Box-Toppers picks the Nationals over the Red Sox in the 2017 World Series

Box-Toppers picks the Washington Nationals to beat the Boston Red Sox in the 2017 World Series.

Box-Toppers 2017 preseason predictions

Box-Toppers picks the Nationals to beat the Red Sox in the 2017 World Series. Here is the predicted order of finish of all 30 teams in their divisions and their projected win total.

American League
1 Red Sox 104 Indians 103 Rangers 95
2 Blue Jays* 103 Tigers 88 Astros 89
3 Orioles* 95 Royals 78 Angels 80
4 Yankees 78 White Sox 66 Mariners 73
5 Rays 69 Twins 58 Athletics 63
National League
1 Nationals 110 Cubs 102 Dodgers 104
2 Mets* 89 Cardinals 79 Giants* 98
3 Braves 81 Pirates 64 Dbacks 79
4 Marlins 77 Brewers 57 Rockies 71
5 Phillies 72 Reds 49 Padres 55
* Wild card
ALCS: Red Sox over Indians
NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers
World Series: Nationals over Red Sox

While the Los Angeles Dodgers are the top-rated team in Box-Toppers’ 2017 preseason team rankings, they are picked to lose in the National League Championship Series to the projected overall champion Nationals.

How can that be?

The Dodgers are the top team based on accumulated Box-Toppers points players on the roster earned in 2016. Dodgers players had 122.7 Box-Toppers points while the Nationals were as close behind as they could possibly be at 122.6.

But when picking winners each season, Box-Toppers looks at more than just last year’s statistics—it takes into account players’ Box-Toppers point totals from previous years (although point totals from recent years and especially last season are weighted more heavily).

So while the Dodgers rank slightly higher based on its roster’s 2016 Box-Toppers points, the Nationals rank ahead of the Dodgers based on its roster’s Box-Toppers points over the past five seasons (2012-2016) and based on its roster’s combined career Box-Toppers point total.

Here is a look at the top five teams based on players’ 2016 Box-Toppers point totals:

  • 1. Dodgers 122.7
  • 2. Nationals 122.6
  • 3. Indians 119.7
  • 4. Red Sox 117.7
  • 5. Cubs 117.1

Here is a look at the top five teams based on players’ Box-Toppers point totals from 2012-2016:

  • 1. Cubs 240.6
  • 2. Nationals 239.8
  • 3. Blue Jays 236.5
  • 4. Indians 232.9
  • 5. Red Sox 225.4

(The Dodgers finish sixth with 219.5.)

Here is a look at the top five teams based on players’ overall career Box-Toppers point totals:

  • 1. Nationals 596.8
  • 2. Red Sox 548.8
  • 3. Giants 520.4
  • 4. Blue Jays 518.9
  • 5. Dodgers 499.4

While Box-Toppers gives more weight to more recent statistics when making predictions, it does rely on past history. And while the Dodgers are narrowly the top team based on 2016 statistics, they rank sixth among teams over the past five years and fifth among teams in career points. Meanwhile, the Nationals are among the top two in each of the three categories.


The Nationals in 2016 were led by overall Box-Toppers points leader, pitcher Max Scherzer (25.7 points). Pitcher Stephen Strasburg ranked 10th among all players with 15.1 points. The 2017 Nationals batter with the most 2016 Box-Toppers points is catcher Matt Wieters, who played for the Orioles last season. Wieters had 11.0 Box-Toppers points, fifth-most among American League batters. He is Box-Toppers’ highest-ranked batter to change teams going into 2017.


The Dodgers leaders include pitchers Clayton Kershaw (24.4 Box-Toppers points in 2016, ranked second overall), Rich Hill (14.4 points, eighth among National League pitchers) and Kenta Maeda (10.0 points). Dodgers top batter is Yasmani Grandal (7.2 points).

Red Sox

Box-Toppers projects the Boston Red Sox to be AL champions over the Cleveland Indians, despite the Indians ranking higher in Box-Toppers 2017 preseason rankings—the Indians ranked third among all teams with 119.7 points and the Red Sox ranked fourth with 117.7.

Top player on the Red Sox going into 2017 is pitcher Chris Sale, who had 13.4 Box-Toppers points in 2016 with the White Sox, sixth among AL pitchers. Sale had the most Box-Toppers points of any player to switch teams in the offseason. Also among Red Sox leaders are pitchers David Price (12.4 Box-Toppers points, ninth among AL pitchers in 2016) and Drew Pomeranz (12.4 points, 11th among AL pitchers). Top returning batter is Hanley Ramirez (7.0 Box-Toppers points in 2016). David Ortiz, who led Red Sox batters in 2016 with8.0 points, retired at the end of last season.


Last year’s World Series champion, the Chicago Cubs, are projected to have a strong, 102-win season, winning the NL Central, but are not among the teams projected to contend in the NL Championship Series. While the Cubs are the top team based on players’ Box-Toppers points over 2012-2016, they rank fifth based on players’ 2016 Box-Toppers points and just 12th based on players’ overall career points. The Cubs had four of the NL’s top 13 pitchers in Box-Toppers points in 2016 (Jon Lester—22.1, third; Jake Arrieta—15.7, sixth; John Lackey—13.4, ninth and Jason Hammel—13.0, 13th). 

One of those pitchers, Hammel, leaves the Cubs in 2017 for the Royals. That loss, combined with the loss of closer Aroldis Champman (7.4 Box-Toppers points) back to the Yankees, caused the Cubs to drop from their lofty status atop Box-Toppers rankings in 2016. Still, despite the losses, they are projected to dominate the NL Central in 2017 (and are in fact, the only NL Central team projected with a record of above .500), even if they are not picked to repeat as World Series champions.

Box-Toppers projects the Nationals to win 110 games in 2017, compared to 104 for the next highest-rated teams, the Dodgers and the Red Sox.

In all, nine teams are projected to have 90-win seasons (six teams did it in 2016)—the Nationals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Cubs, Indians, Giants, Rangers and Orioles. Box-Toppers also projects three teams to have 100-loss seasons (only the Twins did it in 2016)—the Reds, Padres and Twins.

Box-Toppers projects that all teams that made the 2016 postseason will also make the 2017 postseason in the same spots in terms of division champions and wild cards.

How Box-Toppers' 2016 picks fared

Last year, Box-Toppers picked 7 of the 10 participants in the 2016 playoffs correctly. Remarkably, all four participants of both league championship series were correct. And in the World Series, Box-Toppers projected the Cubs to be playing but not winning (even though they were Box-Toppers’ top-ranked team in 2016 preseason standings). Box-Toppers projected the Blue Jays to win the World Series over the Cubs.

Based on Box-Toppers’ 2016 projections, the Toronto Blue Jays had the most disappointing season—even though they made it as far as the AL Championship Series (See chart below: A look back at Box-Toppers 2016 preseason predictions). Box-Toppers projected them to win 111 games, but they actually won 22 fewer games than expected (89) and finished second in the AL East, earning the top AL wild card spot.

Here are the top five teams who underperformed based on 2016 Box-Toppers projections, ranked by most games short of projected wins:

  • 1. Blue Jays, 22 wins short of projection (projected to win 111, but won 89).
  • 2. Angels, 20 (projected: 94, actual 74).
  • 3. Diamondbacks, 19 (projected: 88, actual 69).
  • 4. Royals, 15 (projected: 96, actual 81).
  • 5. Cardinals, 12 (projected: 98, actual 86).

Conversely, the Cincinnati Reds had the best season of any team compared to 2016 projections. The Reds were projected to win only 41 games, but actually won 27 more games than that, winning 68. Still, the Reds finished fifth and last in the NL Central as projected.

Here are the top five teams who performed better than expected based on 2016 Box-Toppers projections, ranked by most wins over the projection:

  • 1. Reds, 27 wins over projection (projected to win 41, but actually won 68).
  • 2. Phillies, 26 (projected: 45, actual: 71).
  • 3. Brewers, 20 (projected: 53, actual: 73).
  • 4. Rockies, 15 (projected: 60, actual: 75).
  • 5. Tie between Braves and Padres, 12 (Braves— projected: 56, actual 68; Padres—projected: 56, actual: 68).

Despite faring better than projected in 2016, none of those six teams faring better than projections contended for a playoff spot.

It should be noted that the Washington Nationals, Box-Toppers’ pick to win the 2017 World Series for the first time in its franchise history, is also the team Box-Toppers picked to win in 2015. That year, the Nationals finished second the NL East and did not make the playoffs.

So, Box-Toppers picks are mostly wrong, as are most preseason picks. But in 2009, Box-Toppers did correctly make the preseason pick that the Yankees would beat the Phillies in that year’s World Series (but then, that year, so did everyone else).

About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

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A look back at Box-Toppers’ 2016 preseason predictions

How did Box-Toppers 2016 preseason predictions pan out by the end of last season? Here’s a look showing how many games Box-Toppers predicted each team would win, the number of actual wins each team had and the difference (+/-) between prognostication and reality. For example, Box-Toppers predicted the San Francisco Giants would win 87 games—and they did, exactly, right on the nose! But Box-Toppers also said the Toronto Blue Jays would win 111 games when, in reality, they won 22 fewer games than that (89). On the flip side, Box-Toppers said the Cincinnati Reds would only win 41 games. They weren’t as bad as all that, winning 68 games, which was 27 games more than predicted.

American League
EAST Predicted
+/- CENTRAL Predicted
+/- WEST Predicted
1 Blue Jays 111 89 -22 Indians 98 94 -4 Angels 94 74 -20
2 Red Sox* 96 93 -3 Royals* 96 81 -15 Mariners 93 86 -7
3 Orioles 86 89 +3 White Sox 82 78 -4 Rangers 91 95 +4
4 Yankees 84 84 0 Tigers 75 86 +11 Astros 89 84 -5
5 Rays 76 68 -8 Twins 68 59 -9 Athletics 62 69 +7
National League
EAST Predicted
+/- CENTRAL Predicted
+/- WEST Predicted
1 Nationals 94 95 +1 Cubs 107 103 -4 Dodgers 99 91 -8
2 Mets* 89 87 -2 Cardinals* 98 86 -12 Dbacks 88 69 -19
3 Marlins 73 79 +6 Pirates 84 78 -6 Giants 87 87 0
4 Braves 56 68 +12 Brewers 53 73 +20 Rockies 60 75 +15
5 Phillies 45 71 +26 Reds 41 68 +27 Padres 56 68 +12
* Teams picked as wild card teams in 2016.