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Study Predicts Baseball's Top Teams in 2008

Pitching for the Yankees AAA Scranton team, New York Yankees Kei Igawa pitches to a batter from the Yankees Trenton AA team in a minor league spring baseball game at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, March 23, 2008. (Image credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The race to get to the National League playoffs will be a tight one this year, while the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels should easily take the American League spots, according to a mathematician who makes annual baseball predictions. For the past seven seasons, Bruce Bukiet of the New Jersey Institute of Technology has used a mathematical model to predict how many games each Major League Baseball team is likely to win. The model computes the probability that a team will win a game against another team given who is hitting, who's on the bench, who the starting pitcher and relievers are and which team has the home field advantage. Bukiet, an avid New York Mets fan, predicts there will be clear frontrunners in the American League (AL) this year. Aside from the Yankees, Sox, Tigers and Angels, the other teams will be "lagging well behind," he said. The National League (NL) has a slightly murkier forecast: "The National League should see much tighter races, with the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves winning the East and the wild card respectively, while in the Central and West Divisions, only the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants have no real shot of making it to the postseason," Bukiet said. Bukiet's model predicts that both the Yankees and the Red Sox should both make it to the postseason, with each team tying baseball's best record of 98 wins. The expected number of wins for each team are:

  • AL East: Yankees – 98; Red Sox – 98; Blue Jays – 86; Rays – 75; Orioles – 63
  • AL Central: Tigers – 96; Indians – 87; White Sox – 79; Twins – 74; Royals – 63
  • AL West: Angels – 92; Mariners – 78; A's – 75; Rangers – 70
  • NL East: Mets – 92; Braves – 89; Phillies – 84; Nationals – 73; Marlins – 70
  • NL Central: Brewers – 84; Cubs – 83; Reds – 81; Cardinals – 80; Astros – 79; Pirates – 71
  • NL West: Rockies – 85; Padres – 85; Diamondbacks – 83; Dodgers – 82; Giants – 75

Bukiet says that his picks are not always correct, though his model has made more correct than incorrect predictions for five of the past seven years. Bukiet's predictions for last season, were down slightly (he picked the Yankees, Indians, Angels, Mets and Padres as clear Division winners – he was right about the Indians and Angels). "These results give a guide of how teams ought to perform during the season," he said. "But there are so many unknowns, especially concerning trades, injuries and how rookies will peform that cannot be taken into account."

Andrea Thompson
Andrea graduated from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in 2004 and a Master's in the same subject in 2006. She attended the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University and graduated with a Master of Arts in 2006.