Just change the formula.
As the baseball season inches closer and rosters begin to be finalized, that means we're starting to see standings projections trickle in. One of the most well known systems, PECOTA, brought to us by the renowned Baseball Prospectus, was released earlier this week with some interesting results.
Despite the headlines this off-season generally focussed on debating whether the Yankees or Red Sox had the better off-season, PECOTA projected that the AL East would end up in the hands of the... Tampa Bay Rays. Yankees and Red Sox fans of course rejected this possibility, pointing out that it was the least accurate of all projection systems last year, and ignoring that the the system successfully projected the Rays success from two seasons ago.
Today, magically, the PECOTA standings were updated, to correct what they called an "error" in the system that has been used for years.Now, as you can see here, the Yankees and Red Sox suddenly appear atop the division, sitting one game ahead of the Rays.
Was there actually a math error, or was this actually an attempt to please fans in the cities that likely provide most of their readership? I mean, some of their other surprising projections like Oakland winning the AL West remain. If they overhauled the projections enough to create that big of a jump for two teams in the AL East, wouldn't that change affect the rest of their projections too? But on the other side... does anyone care enough about these projections to go to these measures to make them work out in a more plausible way?
I'm not sure, and to be honest, thinking this much about it is making me feel like even more of a baseball nerd than usual. Either way though, if the Rays do win the division, I bet the Baseball Prospectus people will be kicking themselves pretty hard. So, go Rays?