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On the wisdom of crowds

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So we recently wrapped up balloting in the Annual BCB Over/Under Contest, the biggest such contest I've ever been a part of. Fifty two ballots came in on time, plus one more that arrived too late to be entered. I decided to run this contest for two reasons: First, it's a fun contest and an opportunity for people to express opinions on a variety of issues. Second, though, it's also an interesting opportunity to put one's finger on the pulse of the community as a whole, and see who we're optimistic and pessimistic about entering the 2009 season. Here's a look at the results:

The Locks:

  • Pitchers to appear in a game, 19.5: 88% OVER
  • Brewer pitchers to start a game, 8.5: 83% OVER
  • Rickie Weeks' batting average, .245: 81% OVER
  • Jason Kendall starts, 134.5: 81% UNDER
  • Runs Allowed, 750: 79% OVER
  • Mike Rivera ABs, 119.5: 77% OVER
  • Corey Hart BB, 31.5: 77% OVER

The Brewers have put 20 or more pitchers into a game each of the last three seasons, but it's been exactly 20 each of the last two years. The Brewers have used just eight starting pitchers twice in the last three years, but used twelve of them in 2006.

Weeks' batting average projection shows some optimism from the community at large: He hasn't broken .235 in either of the last two seasons, but more than 4 out of 5 voters predict he'll break .245 in 2009.

If Mike Rivera is paired with Dave Bush and Bush makes all his starts, Rivera will start 35 games and probably finish around 140 ABs, with Kendall starting 127 games, barring injury. Most readers seem to think Rivera will play at least that much.

The average NL team allowed 749 runs in 2008, but almost 4 of 5 readers think the 2009 Brewers will allow more.

Corey Hart walked just 27 times in 657 plate appearances last season, but most readers seem to think he'll walk more in 2009.

Less Sure

  • Runs Scored, 800: 75% OVER
  • Playoff appearances, .5: 73% UNDER
  • Brewer leader in wins, 14.5: 71% OVER
  • Seth McClung starts, 14.5: 71% UNDER
  • Jeff Suppan ERA, 4.90: 71% UNDER
  • Team finish, 2.5: 71% UNDER
  • J.J. Hardy slugging, .470: 69% OVER
  • Mitch Stetter innings, 49.5: 67% OVER
  • Brewer leader in losses, 12.5: 63% OVER
  • Team Wins, 84.5: 63% OVER
  • Ryan Braun OPS, .946: 63% UNDER
  • Mat Gamel games, 24.5: 62% UNDER

Eight hundred runs scored would have been second in the NL in 2008, and it's 50 more than the Brewers scored, but three out of four voters picked the Brewers to score at least that much.

The playoff appearances voting is perhaps the most interesting one: 27% of voters are predicting the Brewers will make the playoffs this season. In a less surprising note, 71% of voters think they'll finish second or better, and 63% think they'll win 85 games or more.

Despite the fact that most readers think at least nine Brewers will start a game this season, 71% don't think Seth McClung will make 15 starts. And while Jeff Suppan's ERA has increased each of the last three seasons and he posted a higher ERA in 2008, the same percentage of voters think Suppan will keep his ERA under 4.90.

The Brewers haven't had a pitcher reach 15 wins since Chris Capuano did it in 2005, and he was the first Brewer to do it since Cal Eldred did it in 1993. The Brewers haven't had a pitcher lose 13 games since Victor Santos did it in 2005. A fair majority of fans think both feats will happen in 2009.

J.J. Hardy has averaged a .470 slugging percentage over the last two seasons, and 69% of voters think he'll do better this season. Ryan Braun has averaged a .946 OPS over the last two seasons, but 63% of voters think he'll underperform that.

A full season as a LOOGY is worth about 55-60 innings, and 67% of voters think Stetter will pitch that much. Fans aren't as optimistic about Mat Gamel's chances of spending consistent time in the lineup.

Flip A Coin

  • Prince Fielder HR, 39.5: 56% OVER
  • Brewers with 30+ HR, 2.5: 56% UNDER
  • Mike Cameron OPS, .800: 54% UNDER
  • Chris Capuano starts, 2.5: 54% UNDER
  • Brewer batters with 100+ K, 5.5: 52% OVER
  • David Riske, 49.5 innings: 52% OVER
  • Bill Hall games, 119.5: 52% UNDER
  • Starting pitchers with 160+ innings, 3.5: 52% UNDER
  • Manny Parra ERA, 4.20: 52% UNDER
  • Trevor Hoffman saves, 29.5: 52% UNDER
  • Brewer All Stars, 2.5: 52% UNDER

So these are the debates, issues where at least 40% of voters believe each side.

So what, if anything, do you find interesting here? Which issues aren't as clear-cut as the voters would have us believe? Which toss-up issues should be clear cut?