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538 Runs the Numbers on the American League

The ELO model predictions for the Rays and the rest of the AL

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

With Opening Day just around the corner, last minute predictions and projections are being run from websites, tv stations, and newspapers across the country.

The folks over at 538 have released their own predictions for the 2018 season, and just released their guide to the American League.

As with most things 538 does, it’s well worth reading the whole thing. But if you just want the Rays stuff, let’s cut to the chase.

538 explains their prediction model (using the Elo system). Their Elo baseball model is summed up:

In our baseball Elo system, each team has a rating (the average is about 1500), and after every game, the winning team gains some Elo points while the losing team loses the same number of points. The number of points exchanged is based on the chances our model gave each team to win the game and the margin of victory; a win by a big underdog results in a bigger exchange of Elo points than a win by a favorite, and the larger the margin of victory, the larger the exchange.

The Rays are predicted by this model to finish 4th in the AL East with a record of 78-84. The model also projects at 19% chance to make playoffs, 6% chance to win division, and 1% for World Series.

Neil Paine also highlighted the Rays as the AL East’s ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Team. He makes mention that they are certainly a bit of a wild card team (even if they aren’t a Wild Card team) as the projection systems have been all over the place on them. While Vegas and many pundits have projected a really low win total, and PECOTA has projected a potential playoff season, the Elo model from 538 predicts them somewhere in the middle of those extremes.