Carleton: Why is it so hard to build a winner?

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on April 24, 2020:

I wasn’t sure what to call this article. It started as “The Case Against Tanking”, but I also toyed with “The Glory of Randomness in Baseball” or even “Weren’t the Cubs Supposed to be a Dynasty?” You could even title this one “Why Are Pre-Season Standings Predictions Always So Wrong?”

We always think we have a good idea of which teams will end up good, but uniformly, we always come to the end of a season wondering why it is that we somehow missed out on the team that shocked everyone. Next year, we’ll proudly proclaim that the surprise team was good all along and that they should be the new favorites to win their division. (please see Twins, Minnesota). Around these parts, we talk about regression to the mean. If a team played above their heads last year, next year they are likely to regress back to where their heads used to be. Unless of course they don’t.

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Originally published: April 24, 2020. Last Updated: April 24, 2020.