The Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks should win their divisions, while the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds will make it to Major League Baseball’s post-season as wild card teams in the National League (NL) in 2012, according to NJIT’s baseball guru Bruce Bukiet. The San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers and Florida Marlins could be close on the heels of the Reds and Braves but should miss out on the post-season by 3 or 4 wins. For more than a decade, Bukiet, an associate professor and associate dean, has applied mathematical analysis to compute the number of regular season games each Major League Baseball team should win. Though his expertise is in mathematical modeling, rather than baseball, his projections have compared well with those of so-called experts over the years.This year, he says that in the American League (AL), the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers should repeat as division champions, while the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels should be the wild card teams. “In the AL, the competition for the wild card shouldn’t even be close,” Bukiet says. “The next best team, the Tampa Bay Rays, should win 9 less games than the 93 games both the Red Sox and Angels should win,” he adds.
Bukiet makes these projections to demonstrate and promote the power of math. He wants to show young people that math can be fun, that it can be applied to improve one’s understanding of many aspects of life and that if you love mathematics, it can be a great college major and lead to a satisfying career.
Bukiet bases his predictions on a mathematical model he developed in 2000. He has made various revisions over the years. His results have led to back-to-back wins as predictions champ at baseballphd.net in 2010 and 2011. More results concerning his baseball modeling can be found at http://m.njit.edu/~bukiet/baseball/baseball.html and at www.egrandslam.com.
In the NL East, the race for first place should be tight with the Phillies repeating as division champions, winning 92 games and the Braves just two games behind at 90, with both teams making the playoffs. (The model predicted the exact same number of wins for these teams in 2011, but the Braves won just 89 games and missed the playoffs by a single game.) In the Central Division, the St. Louis Cardinals should win 94 games, the most in the National League, while the Reds should win 87 and be the NL team that makes the playoff under the new system in 2012 in which 5 teams in each League go on to the post-season. In the West, the Arizona Diamondbacks should repeat as champions with 88 wins.
The New York Yankees (of the AL East) and Texas Rangers (of the AL West) should tie for the best record in baseball with 97 wins. They should each be 4 games better than the second-place Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, respectively.
Bukiet should have plenty of time this summer to spend doing math since his favorite team, the New York Mets, should come in last place in their division, the NL East, winning just 72 games. His only consolation is that there should be 7 teams with even worse records, with the Minnesota Twins earning the least wins of any team (64). And once again, for the 20th year in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates should finish with a losing record. Their 68 wins are well below the 81 wins needed to break their famous streak.
Bukiet expects the AL win totals at season’s end to be as follows:
AL East: Yankees – 97; Red Sox 93; Rays – 84; Blue Jays – 80; Orioles – 67.
AL Central: Tigers – 96; White Sox – 82; Indians - 78; Royals – 70; Twins – 64.
AL West: Rangers – 97; Angels – 93; Mariners – 70; Athletics – 68.
For the NL, he projects each team having the following number of wins:
NL East: Phillies – 92; Braves – 90; Marlins – 83; Nationals – 75; Mets – 72.
NL Central: Cards – 94; Reds – 87; Brewers – 83; Cubs – 70; Pirates – 68; Astros – 66.
NL West: Diamondbacks – 88; Giants – 84; Dodgers – 81; Rockies – 80; Padres – 78.