Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Predictions

Saw an article online wondering how accurate groundhog weather predictions were. I didn’t read the article, but it struck me as an odd concept. 

How would you know?

I mean, it’s not like the groundhog is making predictions down to tenths of degrees. “Six more weeks of winter” is a pretty arbitrary concept. On March 15, what conditions would qualify as “winter”? Snow on the ground? Temps below freezing? Similarly, how do you define “early spring”? I assume it has to mean earlier than six weeks, right? So in, say four weeks, how do I know if I’ve reached spring? Is there a temperature threshold somewhere? It makes me wonder why anyone ever found those predictions useful, or why they bother.

Then I realized, we make these kinds of predictions all the time this time of year when it comes to the Red Sox. It seems to be what the pre-Spring Training days are for.

How will the young outfield do? How will the Hanley Ramirez experiment at first go? How will the rotation be?

None of those have defined answers. But, that doesn't stop us from debating the questions. What's a "success" for Ramirez at first? Fewer than ten errors? Is there a fielding percentage we have in mind? Or, for the outfield. Is there a number of runs saved we're thinking about? Or a number of runs scored? What defines "good"?

I know. That's the very reason these discussions are so popular. You can't really be wrong. Even when you try to work some number into predictions, there's always wiggle room.

I remember an interview with some baseball insider prior to the 2013 season. There were some questions asked. Would the Red Sox finish above .500? Absolutely. Would the Sox be a playoff team? No.

So, the Sox would absolutely win 83 games to finish above .500. But, not win the 89 games it'd probably take to make the Wild Card? Obviously, the Sox did make the playoffs. But, how wrong was the insider, really? There's always some wiggle room.

As we get closer to actual baseball, we'll keep trying to decide if different aspect of the Red Sox will be "good" or not in the 2016 season. Then we'll all wait to see how right we were.

For the record, I think the Hanley experiment will be a "success." The rotation and the young outfield will be "good" and the Sox will "meet or exceed expectations."

Whatever any of that really means.

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