They may want to hold off on printing playoff tickets, but the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, none of whom won 70 games last year, may be the sleeper teams of 2005. Those four clubs are the only ones that qualify for almost guaranteed improvement under a strangely effective formula originally developed by the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Sleeper Predictor Formula looks at two factors: a poor record in one-run games in the previous season (because won-lost records in one-run games tend to be random, an improvement in that area can reasonably be expected) and a successful spring training record (chart, below). From 1980 through '88, 21 teams met the formula's criteria--and all 21 improved their records.
Since 1995 the Sleeper Predictor Formula has been on the money with 13 of the 17 teams that met the benchmarks, including the only SPF qualifier last year, the Cleveland Indians (12-win increase), and the two qualifiers from 2003, the Royals (plus-21) and the National League Central champion Chicago Cubs (plus-21).
SPF qualifiers typically improve by about a dozen wins. Such a step up would not put the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Rockies or Royals in the postseason, but it would put them on the road to respectability.--T.V.
To¬†qualify¬†under¬†the¬†Sleeper¬†Predictor¬†Formula,¬†a¬†team¬†must¬†have¬†been¬†at¬†least¬†five¬†games¬†below¬†.500¬†in¬†one-run¬†games¬†the previous¬†year¬†and¬†finish¬†with¬†a¬†spring¬†training¬†winning¬†percentage¬†that's¬†at¬†least¬†100¬†points¬†better¬†than¬†its¬†last¬†regular-season percentage.¬†Four¬†teams¬†meet¬†those¬†criteria¬†this¬†year.
2004 RECORD IN ONE -RUN GAMES
2004 OVERALL RECORD (PCT)
SPRING TRAINING RECORD (PCT)
Aaron Miles went 5 for 6 in the Rockies' opening win over the Padres.