I usually write my posts the day before they publish here on Fire Brand of the American League and then press publish them when I get to my computer in the morning. In theory, today – as you read this – is no different. In reality however, as I publish this, the Red Sox are in the midst of playing their first game of the year in Japan.
But I will not be detoured from my normal course of business as I have an important experiment to unleash on the Fire Brand readers and hopefully a larger part of the Internet at large.
The concept of social networking has blown up over the last few years as the Internet has continued to allow for more diverse groups of people, who have to this point been unable to connect, to come together around central topics in mass and share information. MVN itself is a perfect example. As this has happened, there has been great research done in around the concept of collective intelligence and the ability of information to flow through large groups of people.
One of my favorite books on the topic is James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. Surowiecki contends and backs up with case studies that in the right situations a crowd can produce decisions and answers to questions that are more accurate in average than all but a very few of the individuals that make up that collective intelligence.
A great example is the contest to accurate guess the number of jelly beans in a glass jar. More often than not, the average of all the answers will be closer to correct than the winning answer. In the author’s own words;

The wisdom of crowds isn’t about consensus. It really emerges from disagreement and even conflict. It’s what you might call the average opinion of the group, but it’s not an opinion that every one in the group can agree on. So that means you can’t find collective wisdom via compromise. – James Surowiecki

In the book Surowiecki uses multiple sports references, primarily in relation to sports betting, line setting, and predictions.
That got me thinking. While the idea of community projections has existed in blog circles for a while, I haven’t seen any real good breakdown as to if those projections were more accurate in aggregate vs. any single individual or experts predictions.
So here is what I propose to you today; let’s find out.
All you have to do is click on the links below to fill out a form for each player asking for predictions for the following statistics; AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, SB and for pitchers – Wins, Losses, ERA, Strike Outs/9 IP, IP, and Saves.
If you would like to provide your name or MVN “handle”, it will only be used to call out how correct, or incorrect you are at the end of the season. If you would rather not provide any information linking yourself to your predictions and providing a layer of plausible deniability, feel free to leave it blank.
Lastly, please provide the team you root for on a regular basis. Could it be that the collective intelligence of Yankee fans about Red Sox players is more accurate than the fans that live and die all things Sox? We will hopefully find out.
Click on player names to fill out forms with your predictions:
Kevin Youkilis
Dustin Pedroia
Julio Lugo
Mike Lowell
Jason Varitek
David Ortiz
Manny Ramirez
Jacoby Ellsbury
Coco Crisp
J.D. Drew
Sean Casey
Alex Cora
Kevin Cash
Josh Beckett
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Tim Wakefield
Jon Lester
Clay Buchholz
Julian Tavarez
Mike Timlin
Manny Delcarmen
Hideki Okajima
Jonathan Papelbon
These forms feed into a series of Google Spreadsheets that will allow me to post graphs, updates and analysis as the season progresses.
I’ll be leaving the voting lines open until the home opener to allow as many votes as possible to trickle in.
Here is where I need your help. Please do pass this along to friends, family, message boards, blogs, etc.
I am not only looking for Red Sox fans to participate. So spread this far and wide. If you have an MVN blog or blog elsewhere please spare me a mention with a link to this post. Like I mentioned before, it would be more than interesting if fans of other teams forecasts were more accurate than Red Sox fans were.
The more people we get predicting, in theory, the more accurate our predictions will become.
It should be an interesting experiment!