The Wisdom of Crowds and Projecting Royals Wins in 2012


This offseason has had its highs and lows. A strong August and September in 2011 increased attendance and had Royals fans thinking of a future with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas (among others) in the fray, but injuries in March to Salvador Perez and Joakim Soria, plus some poor spring performances by some pitchers, have dampened enthusiasm to an extent.

The following is a “wisdom of crowds” style project by Ross Martin, the sports editor of the St. Joseph News-Press. He offered to share his results with us to pass along to our readers. Ross is a good friend of the blog and has been on the Royalman Report as the originator of the #CountryBreakfast nickname for Billy Butler. Definitely give him a follow on Twitter at @PCBearcat.

As Ross mentions in his description of his impromptu polling, some Royals fans, when pressed to guess a win total, may go low so as to avoid disappointment from high expectations. I have to admit that I fall into this category. That stems from years of hearing about teams that were billed as close to turning things around or taking another step towards glory, only to see most fall apart. So my guess for the Royals has been 78 wins most of the offseason. After the Perez and Soria injuries, I’d lower that to 76. That’s still a five game improvement from last year, but I figure that if I set my sights for 76 (or 78) and the Royals get to .500, that’s a three (or five) game bonus for me. If I shoot for 84 and they win 81, it’s a letdown.

But that’s just one opinion. Here’s Ross’s writeup covering what he determined from a sample of 127 twitter users who responded:

Baseball Prospectus’ win projections for the 2012 season hit the Twitter-sphere in earnest Tuesday.

For Royals fans, it was another reason to feel slighted. BP targeted the Royals for 68 wins this season, second worst in the preseason numbers ahead of only the lowly Houston Astros and three fewer than last season.

What happened to Our Time?

This season brought about excitement among Kansas City’s fanbase. The influx of talented prospects yielded results late in 2011, and with most of the major players coming back this year, there was reason to hope for another improvement this season, especially if the much maligned rotation could improve minus Opening Day 2011 members Jeff Francis and Kyle Davies.

Sure the injuries to All-Star closer Joakim Soria and catching phenom Salvador Perez dampened some of the expectations. But a 68-win prediction hit some fans especially hard.

Why the sour feelings from BP, a respected publication among baseball diehards?

I decided to conduct what I can only deem as a very unscientific study of Royals tweeters, mostly from those that follow me. I asked for a realistic win prediction and received 127 that I counted, plus one guess of 17 from @kctacoparty in a clear attempt to sway my results.

The average number of predicted wins from what I consider a substantial enough group to yield at least somewhat worthwhile results? 79.66.

The highest prediction, which I almost ruled out, came at 99 from @bleedgreen53, and the lowest was from noted pessimist and KC Star photographer @mikeransdell with 68. Even if you rule out the one highest and one lowest, the average still sits squarely between 79 and 80.

Plus, the guess of 68 resonated with me.

Royals fans obviously will usually lean on the bright side, but even at the most pessimistic from the fans who I know truly care about this team, worst-case scenario is right in line with BP’s projection. That’s what hurts Royals fans.

At the greatest time of optimism for a franchise with just one winning season post-1994 strike, BP’s projection comes down to what Royals fans would see as the result of a season gone off the rails with even more bad luck than just the two major spring training injuries.

That’s tough to swallow.

Overall, the guesses seem pretty realistic with only six guesses of 90 or more (1 came from eternal optimist @LilFrenchy21, and he’s not seasoned enough at disappointment just yet. Give him time.)

My guess came at 76 and sits right in the meat of the guesses. Eight of you agreed with my number.

Only two put a guess in the 60s, and I hope this very unscientific study favors away from this. I still think 68 is much more close of a reality than those predicting a plus-.500 year (I’m looking at you @BrianMcGannon.)

But again the guesses don’t seem that out of line with what many expect, BP be damned.

The most telling part of what I’ll call a trend of pessimistic realism came in the most common guess by an overwhelming margin: 80. Even at a time where the Royals and their fans have more reason to hope for a turnaround season than ever, 24 of those I polled remain stuck on a number one game shy of .500 — unwilling to set the mark at a number that would lead to disappointment if not reached.

We’re optimistic that this season can lead to an improvement but remain realistic that this team likely remains at least a year — if not two — away from reaching bigger goals.


Here’s a look at the number of guesses at win totals. I received 127 replies I deemed credible enough to use. Guesses ranged from 99 to 68 with the mode at 80 (24 guesses). The majority fell below that number with an average of 79.66.

80 — 24

83 — 11

81 — 10

79 — 10

78 — 9

76 — 9

84 — 8

82 — 8

75 — 7

77 — 6

74 — 4

72 — 4

73 — 3

85 — 2

71 — 2

99 — 1

94 — 1

93 — 1

92 — 1

91 — 1

90 — 1

87 — 1

86 — 1

69 — 1