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2021 Season Forecasting

The previews cannot officially begin without an understanding of what last year was. When we investigate forecasting 2021, we do rely on many conditions; some of which are, 2020 and its relevant data, the previous most recent seasons and those trends, age, team changes, off season development, and more. In the past, the previous season was largely the single most influencer to predict the future for most players and teams. Not the case for everyone or every team, yet strong weighting compared to some of the others. This year forecasting will be more difficult unless the homework is done properly.

The “season 2020” had a World Series Champion, played meaningful games, gave young players opportunities to see what they could do, and more. The season was largely experimental. We had to deal with the Covid protocol for the sport which altered the number of games played and the rules. We had zero fans in the stands until the playoffs, then were limited to only a few. The games came across well on tv, but the players have said they felt like exhibitions. The rules were changed for safety. We had a DH in both leagues, extra innings rules, 3 batter minimums for pitcher changes, doubleheader changes, scheduling, and safety protocols like no other. The changes and length of the season do alter what we need to consider for the 2021 forecasts.

A simple understanding is the length of the season. MLB played 60 games or roughly 2 months. A normal season is 162 games and 7 months. Batters made 250-260 at bats in 2020, but in 2019 (a 162-game season), they made 650-700 at bats. Starting pitchers made 12 starts in 2020 and made 30+ in 2019. This gap is large, and we need to view it with importance. A complete season will often have peaks and valleys in performance. A segment of 60 games often reflects those outlier performances, but due to the length of the season, evens out the final numbers. The year 2020 will NOT have the evening out of the numbers. Certain players or teams will not have had their successes or failures included. MLB tv doing the best position player available now series, usually includes the previous season and the one prior. This year they included last season and the previous two seasons to get to their results. I like how that looks. They applied a weighting factor so 2020 would have large bearing on the outcomes, but they did apply some thought and reasoning to the data.

I will be doing some similar comparisons. My belief is that we can apply the projections, then identify trends in performance. We need to identify which trends to follow and which ones to debunk. Using methodology around age, team changes, and trend; I should be able to use last year much the same way MLB tv did. Using 2020 is an influencer on future performance, I should be able to forecast 2021 for both players and teams with a large certainty of expectancy. Being right in these forecasts will set us apart from the betting lines on future market wagers, allow proper understanding of value, and give us an edge in the daily grind of a 162-game season. I will be identifying strengths, weaknesses, player progressions and regressions, player movement, depth of teams, and more for every team. I should be able to set a win total for every team with a divisional rank, which then allows for playoff and World Series forecasts. I am very interested in the prop wagers. It is January as I write this so there are not many to look at, but I will be identifying prop wagers to investigate as well. OK, so let’s get into the 2021 team previews!

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Jeff Dawson

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