Wednesday, March 28, 2012

College Baseball BCS (March 27)

By Samuel Chi

Imagine a BCS for college baseball ...

OK, check that, it'll probably make you barf. But let's say we can import the concept of the BCS standings for college baseball, at least for regular season use.

Why? Because as popularity of the game increases, there's more information than ever at our fingertips. There are five major polls and two credible ratings systems that we have to get through each week. Each poll and computer ranking is unique, but none is so superior that we can disregard all others.

As the BCS Guru during the other part of the year, I'm of course intimately familiar with the BCS standings and its inner-workings. To be sure, the standings are flawed (which I won't get into now), but it's not completely without merit. First and foremost, it blends the elements of human subjectivity and computer objectivity. It's the eyeball test meets the cold-hard data.

So I've decided to use the concept but flip it on its head. The problem with the current BCS standings is that there's too much human influence but no transparency. With that in mind, I've decided to return the primacy to the computers, which only makes sense because if anything, the college baseball polls are even more subjective and biased than college football polls.

What I come up with is the following formula with two-thirds of the standings involving computer rankings and the other one-third human polls:

* RPI (1/3) - As compiled at Boyd's World, the tool that the selection committee relies most heavily on to determine postseason seendings and berths

* Iterative Strength Ratings or ISR (1/3) - This is Boyd Nation's own computer ratings, which is less biased than the RPI and gives more weight to strength of schedule

* Five polls (1/3) - Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game USA, USA Today Coaches Poll and NCBWA, with the lowest ranking for each team discarded

We only include teams that appeared in the top 25 in at least one of the above components. Thus, if a team is not ranked by any of the polls or does not appear in either computer rating's top 25, it will not be part of the standings. With that in mind, here's our inaugural College Baseball BCS Standings:

(Click to enlarge)

A few observations from our first rankings:

* More than anything, this weeds out teams that are grossly overrated in human polls. Case-in-point is Georgia, which is No. 18 on two polls but not in the top 25 here.

* RPI and ISR ratings fluctuate more in the early part of the season, which is why just like the BCS standings, we waited until about the halfway point of the season to unveil our first standings. The computer ratings are from Monday, the same day the polls come out, to provide a clear cutoff and some consistency.

* The strength of the conferences is in clear display here, the most notable being the continuing decline of the Big West Conference, which does not have another team in the rankings besides Cal State Fullerton. As it is, this does not bode well for the Titans as they enter conference play.

* Complete breakdown by conference among the 40 ranked teams: SEC (9), ACC (8), Pac-12 (6), Big 12 (4), West Coast (3), Conference USA (2), Southland (2), Big Ten (1), Big East (1), Big West (1), Big South (1), Missouri Valley (1), WAC (1).


TitaNation89 said...

Nicely done!

Unfortunately, you are right about the Big West. Looks like only 2 post season bids, this year. Strength of Schedule is about to plummet, as conference play begins.

Consequently, Fullerton will need a lot of help to earn a CWS seed. But, it is still possible: If Fullerton, Florida, Texas A&M, TCU and UCLA each dominate their conferences and Fullerton sweeps UCLA....

Johnny Gardner said...

Good stuff. Unfortunately, I don't see Coastal being in there next week.