One more thing on Red Sox’ side: Math

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Red Sox fans already knew their team looks pretty good on paper.

Today’s the day we introduce the guy who actually wrote the paper.

Dimitris Bertsimas, a professor of operations research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, has crunched the numbers and is predicting 101 wins for the Red Sox this season. Last year, he was just one off — he called for 90 wins; the Red Sox had 89.

“A player is a vector of numbers and from that, we can make accurate predictions of how many runs they will score and translate those to overall team statistics,” Bertsimas said in an MIT press release announcing the results contained in Bertsimas’s research paper, “The Analytics Edge in Baseball.”

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Bertsimas predicts the Yankees will have 93 victories in 2011.

Bertsimas, who teaches a course about how companies use analytics to boost their bottom line, used three analytic models that rely on a variety of statistics to project a team’s success over 162 games. It is similar to the type of analysis most professional teams use in their decision-making.

However, after the regular season, all bets are off because luck plays a much greater role in a five- or seven-game series.

“In a five-game series, the worst team in baseball will still beat the best team in baseball 15 per cent of the time,” Bertsimas says. “Analytical principles are very useful for getting a team to the playoffs, but they are much less helpful once the playoffs start because the level of randomness is much higher. Any general manager worth his salt sees his job as getting the team to the playoffs, but once they get that far, luck plays a much larger role.”

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