In 2006 and 2007, we called this “No Chance In Hell.” In 2008 it was “The Rays Are Getting Warmer,” and 2009 it was “Rays Are In For A Dogfight.” Last year it was “One Tough Ass Division.

In one of our favorite preseason posts, Replacement Level Yankees Weblog, have released their “The 2011 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout.”

In the Projection Blowout, stats from five different projection systems are used to project the 2011 season using the “Diamond Mind” simulator. Each set of projected stats is used to simulate “hundreds of thousands” of seasons. The projected stats used  include Bill James, CAIRO, Marcel, Oliver and PECOTA.

In the overall projections (averaging the 5 systems), the Rays, on average, finish 3rd in the AL east with 86.1 wins. Last year the Rays were projected to finish third with 91.2 wins.

Below we have summed up the results from each of the projection systems for just the Rays. Data for 2007-10 are how the Rays performed those seasons. We have added a few notes below the table (click “Read the rest…”)

A few notes on the projections

  • The Red Sox are projected to finish first with 94.4 wins and the Yankees are second at 92.4 wins. In the projections, the winner of the AL East won an average of 98 games and the Wild Card winner won an average of 92 games.
  • The Rays actually are projected to finish third in each of the individual projections, with the Red Sox projected to finish first in each of the projections.
  • The Rays are projected to score 40 runs less this season, and give up 55 more runs than a year ago. This would translate to an 87-75 record based on the Pythagorean Win Percentage.


  1. Scot says:

    Thanks for the link Prof.
    1) The spreadsheet you list seems misleading. The numbers you list for previous seasons are the actual results, not the projected results. Last year again the Rays were projected (using the Yankee site) to end up 3rd with 91 to 92 wins.
    2) A 30% chance of making the playoffs. That means the Rays have a real chance. Another exciting year.

    • Beth says:

      good point - the question is, how accurate have these projections been in the past?

      Just clicking back to the links for earlier years, it seems as though the projections really underestimated Rays wins in 2008; overestimated them (by a smaller amount) in 2009, and underestimated them by 6 games, (taking the average) in 2010.

      I know these projections are based on all kinds of sophisticated calculations, and of course just testing them against 3 years of Rays results is a tiny sample, but it doesn't seem as though these systems are great at predicting deviations from past performance -- when the Rays are coming off a bad season they are underrated, and when they came off the 2008 season they were overrated.

      • Scot says:

        Even if these projections were 100% accurate, there is enough randomness in 162 games that there is decent spread of 12 games around the "true" record. There is a 66% probability the Rays will finish within 6 games of true record. I.e., the standard deviation of 162 games for teams playing near .500 is about 6 games. This means a record between 80 to 92 wins. So the way I read these projections is not the average record (86 wins), but rather what is the probability of the team making the playoffs - essentially passing either the Yankees or Red Sox. 30% is a reasonable number and says we should all be encouraged, but not assured of a post season for the Rays. (A probably less that 5% says essentially no chance.)

        • Beth says:

          The 162 game season is precisely why we research nerd types like baseball -- such a large "n"!

          Scot, I like your analysis of the best way to view these projections -- no point getting hung up on 80 vs. 82 vs. 90 wins; just focus on the chance that we'll be playing meaningful games in September.

          • Scot says:

            Yes, 162 is a heck of a better way to determine a deserving winner than 16. And thanks for the compliment. It is pleasant interactions such the one we are having that encourage me to return to the RaysIndex. (For more about competitiveness, I recommend "Soccernomics". They mostly analyze soccer, but digress into American football and baseball. For this discussion, they say the data show that there is a smaller separation in quality of teams in baseball than in American football. It is the fact that n=16 that makes football look more competitive.)

  2. Gus says:

    If bullpen is good or great: 93-96 wins

    If bullpen is terrible: 75 wins.

    Relief pitching is the least understood aspect of baseball evaluation, apparently, so the Rays have gone young or cheap and unconventional. I hope it works out for them, becase as scoring continues to decrease (Major League Baseball teams averaged of 4.4 runs per game in 2010, the lowest mark since 1992), you are going to be in more closer games on a percentage basis (I haven't done the research, but that must be true), making the effectiveness of your bullpen especially important (more so when management heavily manages pitch counts; teams will just wait the Rays starters out and run up their pitch counts, and win the games late if they are weak in the pen. Pitching in relief in Boston, NYC and even Toronto (where the Rays have seemingly had several bullpen collapses in the last few years) is not easy.

    I really hope this isn't 2007 all over again. The spring results have been promising, but Fort Myers isn't Fenway Park.


Leave a Comment