MaxPreps released its final computer-generated baseball rankings this past week. Houston County was 46th out of 100.
“Foul,” cry Bears faithful, feeling disrespected and firmly believing either one, the computer is broken, or two, MaxPreps is run by a bunch of synchronized swimming experts (no offense to real synchronized swimming experts).
Truth be told, however, that’s actually really really good. For starters, this includes “every” high school baseball team in America. We’re talking literally thousands!
Second, only three teams from Georgia made the list. Mount Paran Christian out of Kennesaw is 25th. (Granted they, at 29-4, might have gotten a little “heavenly” help as they were the Class A Private state champion.)
Parkview (30-10) is 34th. It was the Class AAAAAAA state champion.
Allatoona (32-7), which every Houston County fan knows the Bears beat in the semifinals was 74th. (It was the only series that went to a Game 3.) That’s it for Georgia schools. (Houston County was 24th on Perfect Game’s Top 50 list, but oddly enough Buford was eighth and it was eliminated in the GHSA Class AAAAAA Sweet 16.)
Xaverian Brothers out of Westwood, Mass., was No. 1. They were the Division 1 state champion and finished 18-1.
One might ask how they rated so high considering the number of games – or lack of – they played (versus the 40 – with a 33-7 record – Houston County played).
They offer this explanation on their website:
“One hypothesis for why a team can play less games against fewer unique opponents and rank higher in the ratings has to do with how the ratings work. In a perfect world, all of the teams in the nation can be rated against each other based on the premise that teams play a variety of opponents within the state and outside of the state. As results are compared, the algorithm makes adjustments to a team’s ratings based on how its opponents have performed and how their opponents have performed against how their opponents have performed, and so on and so on until equilibrium is achieved.
“High school baseball normally has a high number of games with many of those against teams from other states. However, limited travel and the cancellation of national-level tournaments (like the National High School Invitational) prevented this type of scheduling that normally would enhance the accuracy of the ratings. Instead it created ‘pockets of isolation’ which made computer rating comparisons difficult.
“There were situations like those in Massachusetts and North Carolina. In Massachusetts, schools played, for the most part, a league schedule with few (if any) non-league opponents followed by the state playoffs. With no play outside of the state by which to measure the Massachusetts teams, they were rated against themselves and thus their ratings stayed higher than they historically have been in the past. Case in point, no Massachusetts teams in the past 14 seasons has had a rating higher than 27.1, compared to Xaverian Brothers’ rating of 35.64 this year.
“North Carolina was similar, with the independent schools playing in March and April and the NCHSAA schools playing in May and June instead of at the same time with interplay between the two associations. There was thus very little play (if any) between those organizations, resulting in the independent schools being rated much higher this year than in the past.
“This is not to say that the teams that were ranked in the top 100 computer rankings are not great teams. Nearly all of them are state champions with impressive ratings. The difference this year is that COVID prevented a more accurate (not inaccurate) depiction of how those schools rank against each other at the national level.”