Monday, October 24, 2005

2005 World Series: Fate 1, Analytical Forecasting 0

Not to pick on the amazing Baseball Prospectus or to disparage analytical forecasting (of which I am a fervent devotee), but this White Sox-Astros series is exactly the kind of matchup that confounds reasoned projections. Houston and Chicago meeting in the World Series was an absurd fantasy 6 (or even 3) months ago; even the smart guys got fooled. I cherry picked some choice quotes from BP2k5's capsule forecasts of the teams for effect:

Houston Astros:

There is almost no chance that the Astros can repeat their '04 success in 2005...This isn't a contending team. The question is whether new GM Tim Purpura can get his hands around that fact early enough to salvage positives from the season. The turning point for the 2005 Astros is as likely to be a 6-1 loss on Opening Day as anything else, what with all their flaws. [For the record: Houston lost 7-3 to St. Louis on Opening Day -- Ed.]

Chicago White Sox:

The investment in pitching is defensible, but for all that, the rotation is still really two and a half pitchers deep: Garcia, Mark Buerhle, and El Duque whenever he's healthy. That won't be enough to make up for an offense ill-suited for its home park and likely to struggle to score anywhere else. The new master plan might be a bold stroke, but it's the sort of gamble that will more likely have the Sox keeping the Royals company in the basement than finally getting them back to the top of the standings.

Not to belabor the point from my previous post, but isn't this why we watch? Sometimes that optimism in spring is not so hopelessly misplaced after all. In March and April, few in the baseball forecasting community predicted this matchup or picked the ChiSox to win it all, and those that did were dismissed as drunks or charlatans.

And not to go too nuts about fate like I also did in my last post, but the White Sox have that look of inevitability about them.'s Bill Simmons wrote about this in regards to last year's Red Sox team; that all the bad calls, weird bounces, and crazy plays that traditionally went against them started to go their way, and they rode the good fortune and timely play all the way to the title. The White Sox seem to be following the same script.

It started in Game 2 of the ALCS when A.J. Pierzynski stole an extra out and the game from the Angels. But tonight furnished the best examples yet: an inside pitch glances low off Jermaine Dye's bat and the foul ball is ruled a HBP; the very next batter (Paul Konerko) wallops a grand slam. And then Scott Podsednik, who hadn't homered all season until Game 1 of the ALDS (507 regular season ABs, 0 HRs), turns around a Brad Lidge heater for the game winning blast!

Sorry 'Stros fans, but that's fate: the White Sox are going to win the World Series.

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