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Talking Chop’s Big Board: Over/Unders for the 2021 Braves

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Get excited about wild mass guessing!

KENYA-FBL-WC-2018-FEATURE Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

A while ago, I had this idea. It came from some other ideas, like how the basis of discussion might be disagreement, and how the easiest way to get an answer on the internet is not to ask, but to posit something that can be corrected (Cunningham’s Law). As you know, Talking Chop is rife with disagreement — my idea was to systematize it. In short, I’m thinking of a few different things here, but they all involve drawing lines in the sand (or making marks on plinths, whatever), and then letting the baseball gods judge the value of your beliefs.

Basically, I’m thinking this works in two parts. This post is about one of those parts, and perhaps the less-interesting one. What is this post? This post is about over/unders.

In particular, I made this Google Form thingy, which you can find here: https://forms.gle/LsPDaMAwX24gDgtn9. The instructions are actually in the form itself, so you can more or less go do it. The gist, though, if you want to know whether to bother participating, is this: we’re doing over/unders, with regard to WAR. For each player (most of the Opening Day roster, and a few others), you are given two values:

  • The player’s raw total WAR for the 2021 season; and
  • The player’s pro-rated WAR for the 2021 season (600 PAs for position players, 200 IP for probable starting pitchers, 65 IP for all other pitchers, including swingmen that might exceed that total).

All you have to do is just pick whether you think the player will exceed the given value, or fall short of it. And do this for as many of the players listed as you like. Scoring is pretty simple: at the end of the year, we’ll tally +1 point for every correct over/under and -1 point for every incorrect over/under. You are welcome not to guess, in which case you won’t gain or lose points. (This seems kinda boring but is not actually a bad strategy if you’re trying to win.) To avoid relievers dominating things, points are scaled down for part-timers. The couple of bench humans are only worth half a point, while relievers are only worth a third of a point. Basically pitchers and position players, in sum, are both about half of the available points.

Anyway, go fill it out, or don’t. It might take you 20 minutes, more if you think kind of hard about it. And you may want to — I picked the over/unders to be annoying, both in general and in relation to one another, so be careful with some of the raw WAR versus WAR/600 (or WAR/200 or WAR/65) measures.

To help or mislead you, here are some tables.

Happy prognosticating! Get your picks in before first pitch on Opening Day.

Ah, but there’s a tiny bit more. This sort of fire-and-forget thing would be mildly interesting, but my idea was to have this be a bit more engaging. First, I’ll plan to have regular check-ins about leaders, time-permitting. Of course, these leaders will be temporary in nature, because player performance will evolve. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reshuffle picks to see who’s in the lead as of a certain day. Second, I truly hope that these over/unders are not the only scoring opportunity on the Big Board. Rather, what I envision is that over the course of the season, we’ll have some serious disagreements about something. Where that disagreement is going to be verifiable by the events of the season, we’ll throw it up on the Board in a similar form — a simple question where you can either gain or lose (or abstain).

For a minute bit of added incentive, various parts of the TC masthead have already submitted their picks. Can you best them at this ridiculous exercise? Prove it.

Hey Ivan, I scrolled to the bottom of this post — what’s the link again so I don’t have to scroll up? I got you covered: https://forms.gle/LsPDaMAwX24gDgtn9.