An Analysis Of The Current Poll Question


People love poll questions.

I imagine it’s due to the idea that there is such thing as a popular vote, and no electoral college will snatch away your contribution. My parents have hated this about their Republican selection winding up in the hands of the most liberal state in America — California — for every presidential race since I’ve been alive. Poll questions are the utopian scenario for what we think a democracy should be. They also appeal to a certain curiosity everyone has about what results are on the other side of a bunch of blank bubbles. You just can’t help yourself to click on one of the choices, because you want to know how well (or contrary) your perception matches up with everyone else’s.

About a week ago I posited a new poll asking which bracket the Rangers would end up in on the win curve in 2013. As of Saturday, 9 February, the results have been mixed between whom I would consider realists (86-90 wins) and optimists (91-95 wins), though these seem (to me, at least) the two most rational stances to take.

Analytically speaking, nearly 50% of the vote has belonged to the realists (28/57 votes); just north of 30% has been selected by the optimists (18/57). The other 11 votes were divided amidst the pessimists (80-85 wins) and the lunatics (<80 wins; > 95 wins).

For what it’s worth, if you were part of the 11, and were not, in fact, trolling, I’d be curious for your reasoning.

In 2012 the Rangers won 93 games, despite their cumulative WAR suggesting that they should have been closer to 96 wins. Now let’s take a look at what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained:

Lost: Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, Mike Adams

Gained: Lance Berkman, A.J. Pierzynski, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor

If we concede that Lance Berkman will essentially be replacing Michael Young, and that A.J. Pierzynski will be replacing Mike Napoli, then we’re left with Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry filling in for Josh Hamilton, and a veritable wash among those relievers (since relievers are the lowest priority and offer the least amount of value on the diamond).

Earlier in the offseason when I posted that, as of now (in a relative, offseason sense), the Rangers are an 87-win team, I was strictly basing it off a WAR projection. We lost about 12.0 WAR off a 93-win team, and I surmise that we’ve gained roughly 6.0 WAR. (This is, of course, conflated with the idea that guys like Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz will bounce back from sub-par 2012’s, and that David Murphy and Adrian Beltre will regress from their amazing production.)

The obvious argument the anti-SABR contingency could throw out would be “Well what did WAR say about the Orioles and Athletics in 2012?”

This is a fair point. However, when you achieve the bulk of your success with untenable W-L records in one-run and extra-inning affairs, it skews results. Luck is an entity that can only exist in short spurts; over time, when it evens out to neutral, teams are simply left in their naked, bare bones forms. That’s the place where true talent survives, and flourishes, which is the reason both Baltimore and Oakland will very likely find themselves reverted back to reality in 2013.

Dan Symborski, who every year runs his ZIPS projections, agrees with my perception, in that this is an 87-88 win team. So that’s good.

When I’m suspended in an elevated conscious, my non-reality takes me to a higher plane where anything is possible. It’s as if it’s pointless to try to make order out of the disorder involved when a guy is chucking a small sphere into a block of wood. Whenever I play pickup baseball games and a random guy happens to make a nice throw, or provides solid contact on a pitch, isn’t that just the beauty of baseball? Isn’t it nice to believe anything is possible?

When I get back down to earth, I realize it’s not about making just one nice play — or two or three — it’s about how long one can sustain success making multiple plays consistently. The Rangers have a ton of talented athletes, but how far can we project them to go with so many question marks?

That is the question.