World Series preview

This column's column simulator has written this column 2,000 times and predicts the Rays in 7. Or something about Jeannie Zelasko.


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King Kaufman
October 23, 2008 1:40AM (UTC)

ESPN has used Diamond Mind Baseball's software and 2008 statistics to run 2,000 simulations of the World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Such simulations have correctly picked the winner of six of the seven playoff series so far this year, missing only on the National League Championship Series, which the Diamond Mind hamsters thought the Los Angeles Dodgers would win because of superior pitching. What kind of idiot would think that?

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The computer is picking the Rays. Dayne Myers and Luke Kraemer of Diamond Mind report that Tampa Bay won 1,414 of the 2,000 simulations, a .707 winning percentage, "the largest winning margin of any postseason projection we've done for ESPN.com."

Here's how many times each result came up:

Rays in 4: 299
Rays in 5: 327
Rays in 6: 437
Rays in 7: 351
Phils in 4: 225
Phils in 5: 179
Phils in 6: 144
Phils in 7: 38

It looks a little weird to me that the Phillies are almost six times more likely to win by a sweep than they are to win in seven games, according to the simulation, but what do I know?

In an effort to find out what I know, I used software called Rice-A-Roni-Sucking Dot-Com Bobo Rube Mind to run 2,000 simulations of my World Series preview column.

It turns out I've got the Rays winning too, in seven games. Here's how many times each column came up in the 2,000 simulations:

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Rays in 4: 38
Mailbag!: 279
Death to placekicking: 13
Rays in 5: 144
Nice job, Jeannie: 8
Rays in 6: 283
Evan Longoria, Eva Longoria -- one letter different!: 3
"Artistic" camera angles suck: 384
Rays in 7: 318
A short story about a one-armed veterinarian with vertigo: 6
Phils in 4: 48
Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe: 1
Hot Megan Fox replaces sexy Beyoncé as random page-view-generation joke: 32
Phils in 5: 82
"Hamlet": 1
Phils in 6: 201
Kids flip coins to predict winner: 22
Phils in 7: 137

That's 783 columns picking the Rays and only 468 for the Phillies. According to the simulations, I think the Rays are going to win because of the depth of their starting pitching. With James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine, the Rays rotation doesn't have the weak spots the Phillies do.

Cole Hamels is pitching like an ace and Brett Myers does that sometimes, but Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton are scary guys to run out there with all the money in the pot.

Then again, this is precisely what I said when I predicted the Dodgers would beat the Phillies. So disregard this column. Predicting a World Series winner is like predicting a coin flip. Go with the simulations. I recommend the one that starts, "ACT I. SCENE I. Elsinore. A platform before the castle."

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The real prediction is that we'll have a Game 6 for the first time since 2003 and a Game 7 for the first time since 2002.


King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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