Despite all the concerns that payroll disparity would lead to boring predictability, baseball has proved to be the toughest sport for the so-called experts to predict in recent years. So did the pundit class bounce back in 2013?
The answer is a resounding no. In fact, they arguably did even worse! This year we ramped up our coverage, tracking a whopping 63 pundits this year from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS, Yahoo, and Fox. On average, the pundits got 29% of their division picks right for a woeful $0.63 Yield. The Yield measures the average payout, on average, had you bet $1 of each of the pundit’s picks; in this case, you would have lost 37% of your money.
Before we get to the individual pundits, let’s analyze their picks in aggregate. Here were the pundits’ division favorites going into the season, with the final rank of those teams in parentheses.
Division Pundits' Pick (#) Final Standing
AL East Toronto (30/63) Last (23 games out)
AL Central Detroit (62/63) #1
AL West LA Angels (37/63) #3 (18 games out)
NL East Washington (59/63) #2 (10 games out)
NL Central Cincinnati (52/63) #3 (7 games out)
NL West San Francisco (32/63) #3 (16 games out)
Every prediction aside from Detroit was wrong. Toronto is perhaps the most glaring one, as almost half the pundits picked the Blue Jays, who finished 23 games out, to win the AL East.
Perhaps even more appalling is just how wrong the pundits were with respect to many of the actual division winners. Here are those leaders along with the number of experts that predicted each team to win.
Division Winner Pundit # Pundit %
AL East Boston 0/63 0%
AL Central Detroit 62/63 98%
AL West Oakland 10/63 16%
NL East Atlanta 4/63 6%
NL Central St. Louis 11/63 17%
NL West Los Angeles 23/63 37%
So zero (yes, zero) out of 63 pundits picked the Red Sox to win the AL East, while only a handful picked the Athletics, Braves, and Cardinals.
Let’s now look at how the individual pundits fared. Since there were so many poor performers, for the sake of space we will display only the best performers here. For the full breakdown of all the pundits, click here.
Best Pundits (those with a Yield > $1.00)
Pundit Hit # Yield Correct
Karl Ravech, ESPN 4/6 $2.07 Tigers, Athletics, Braves, Dodgers
David Kull, ESPN 3/6 $1.79 Tigers, Athletics, Cardinals
Mark Saxon, ESPN 3/6 $1.79 Tigers, Athletics, Cardinals
Jon Heyman, CBS 3/6 $1.79 Tigers, Athletics, Cardinals
Pedro Gomez, ESPN 3/6 $1.77 Tigers, Athletics, Braves
Ben Reiter, SI 3/6 $1.52 Tigers, Athletics, Dodgers
Buster Olney, ESPN 2/6 $1.21 Tigers, Athletics
David Schoenfield, ESPN 2/6 $1.21 Tigers, Athletics
Rick Sutcliffe, ESPN 2/6 $1.21 Tigers, Athletics
Ken Rosenthal, Fox 2/6 $1.21 Tigers, Athletics
Karl Ravech, as the only pundit to get the AL West, NL East, and NL West correct, was the best performer.
To see all the pundits’ individual picks (including Pennant and World Series picks) and to make your own predictions for the upcoming division series, visit our MLB section. We will grade you after each series is over, so use the “Vote Now” buttons to start building you own track record for everyone to see!