A 1000-year simulation of the 2011 season

About two weeks ago, I wrote about a simulation I did for the 1977 American League. It was an interesting study for me to perform, no doubt, but it left me wanting more. After all, studying a season when leisure suits and 8-tracks were popular can only speak so much about baseball today. So, I revamped the code to include NL teams and fed the 2011 stats and schedule through the simulator. Who knows, maybe the Orioles lucked into the playoffs one of these years, giving hope to us that finally the team is getting out of the decade-plus doldrums they've been in and they are really on their way to something good? After minimal hair-pulling (what few I've got left), and about a week's worth of computer number-crunching, 1000 years were completed and the results are presented after the jump...

First, a little legalese:

     The information used here was obtained free of
     charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.  Interested
     parties may contact Retrosheet at 20 Sunset Rd.,
     Newark, DE 19711.

If you haven't checked out retrosheet, it's a stat-heads dream. This wouldn't have been possible without their records. With a little work you can figure out all kinds of stats for any given player.

I'll cut right to the chase and start with the AL East. Before the year began, computer simulations were pointing at the Red Sox as not only the best team in the division, but the best team the MLB has seen in some time. However, injuries and bad chemistry dragged them down and we all know how that ended (Paplolbon!). One of the advantages of this simulation is that all injuries and minor league callups are accounted for, so there's no guessing projected lineups or estimated performances, so let's see how the division shook out in the study:

Wild cards Division playoffs average st. dev min max real
NYA 284.50 550.00 834.50 94.87 6.11 76 114 97
BOS 361.50 385.00 746.50 93.06 5.91 74 110 90
TBA 171.67 65.00 236.67 85.60 6.29 67 108 91
TOR 2.00 0.00 2.00 72.72 5.79 54 92 81
BAL 0.00 0.00 0.00 63.68 5.58 47 85 69



Unfortunately for us Os fans, it looks like the team overperformed a bit last year, by about 6 games. That is well within a "reasonable" deviation, so any regression won't be too severe. It is worth noting that Tampa ran down a team that was better then they were, although we kinda already knew that given the talent levels on either team. It points to something definitely going wrong with the Sox in September, so hopefully they can keep that up going into next year.

The AL Central really didn't hold too many surprises. Detroit won this division by 15 games last year, and won it a vast majority of the time in this study:

Wild cards Division playoffs average st. dev min max real
DET 10.00 942.00 952.00 95.60 5.83 75 114 95
CHA 50.33 48.00 98.33 80.94 6.02 63 100 79
CLE 10.00 8.50 18.50 76.24 6.21 59 95 80
KCA 2.83 1.50 4.33 73.30 5.84 48 92 71
MIN 0.00 0.00 0.00 60.66 6.10 41 80 63



The Twins had the lowest win average in this study, so anyone who thought that this past year for the Twins was just a blip on the radar maybe disappointed. Of course, a good deal of their woes were due to injuries to key players, but their pitching staff wasn't good last year and they didn't do much to improve the situation as of yet. I'd keep an eye on the Royals in this division for next year- they were a touch better then their record indicated and have plenty of young talent on their roster. This seems to suggest that they aren't ready to take on Detroit just yet, but it finally seems like their time in purgatory is nearing an end. You paying attention, Duquette?

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the West, that went according to plan as well

Wild cards Division playoffs average st. dev min max real
TEX 2.83 991.00 993.83 102.45 5.94 82 122 96
ANA 76.00 6.50 82.50 81.27 5.92 62 97 86
OAK 25.33 2.50 27.83 77.44 6.08 61 101 74
SEA 3.00 0.00 3.00 68.78 6.08 50 92 67



The Rangers had the best average in this study, and were no fluke to represent the league in the World Series. I don't plan on running this simulation for any other year- it takes a little while to do this, but after seeing this and the 101-loss effort they put in for 2010, I'm thinking the 2009 Mariners that won 85 was nothing but a fluke. The addition of Pujols should help narrow the gap between the Angels and the Rangers, one guy doesn't add 20 wins to his team. Of course, it increases their chances if Texas's offense can't match last year's output.

The NL I'll tackle all at once:

Wild cards Division playoffs average st. dev min max real
LAN 73.25 425.67 498.92 88.82 5.91 69 110 82
ARI 62.92 277.17 340.08 86.43 5.94 69 109 94
SFN 68.08 253.17 321.25 86.25 5.99 65 104 86
COL 9.50 28.00 37.50 77.17 6.20 56 97 73
SDN 3.83 16.00 19.83 75.68 6.16 56 95 71



Wild cards Division playoffs average st. dev min max real
SLN 172.17 675.83 848.00 96.00 5.76 75 114 90
MIL 292.83 231.33 524.17 90.47 6.25 67 111 96
CIN 180.08 92.83 272.92 86.75 5.97 65 108 79
CHN 3.00 0.00 3.00 72.32 6.14 53 92 71
HOU 0.00 0.00 0.00 67.77 6.12 49 90 56
PIT 0.00 0.00 0.00 62.89 5.99 44 81 72



Wild cards Division playoffs average st. dev min max real
PHI 11.58 959.83 971.42 99.44 5.88 81 118 102
NYN 74.83 24.00 98.83 82.40 6.23 58 100 77
ATL 35.42 9.33 44.75 80.67 5.91 58 102 89
WAS 11.50 6.83 18.33 77.33 6.17 57 95 80
FLO 1.00 0.00 1.00 72.01 6.24 52 94 72



It's interesting the comparisons between the wild card races- in the AL, the better team was caught from behind by a good, but certainly not great team. In the NL, a great team hunted down an average team and beat them at the wire. The Cardinals were the second-best team in the NL, and third-best in the majors in this study, suggesting that their championship may not be as flukey as some thing, and certainly not as much as I thought is was.

I'll conclude this with a couple random thoughts, and would welcome any comments about this...

1. If I had to choose a breakout team based on all this for next year, I'd take the Dodgers. If they can put the McCourt insanity behind them, and that's a big if, they appear to have the talent in place to take the division. I'd also keep an eye on the Reds as dark horses in the NL Central.

2. The green shoots in Pittsburgh don't appear to be sustainable. As a Flyers fan, anything that suggests that Pittsburgh isn't that good is welcome news.

3. Texas appears to be a juggernaut. Their offense was consistently leading the majors in runs scored, while getting OK pitching. If Darvish pans out, I'd say they are prohibitive favorites for next season.

4. The NL appears to be wide open this year. The Phillies were buoyed by a phenominal starting rotation, but the oldest offense will get be another year older and they were very average last year. The Cards will be hurt by Pujoles leaving, and no one seems dominate in the West.

5. The Orioles were done in by their pitchers, but I think we knew that already. In the years they had even bad pitching, they were getting 75-78 wins.

I don't have a big finish here, or any grand conclusions about why certain teams did better or worse then what I came up with during the study. I assume this is random luck, or there's something I'm not accounting for in this program. There's others who have done something like this too, and would very much like to compare results and methods and things of that sort.

FanPosts are user-created content and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of Camden Chat or SB Nation. They might, though.

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