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How will baseball season turn out? Here’s what a ‘swarm’ predicted

The Globe’s baseball swarm predicted the Blue Jays will win the AL East.Troy Toarmina/USA Today Sports

The winner of the AL East will be the Toronto Blue Jays. The winner of the American League will be the Cleveland Indians. And the winner of the 2016 World Series will be the Chicago Cubs.

At least that’s what Unanimous A.I.’s swarm intelligence predicted on Wednesday when we held a 30-minute online experiment to predict the outcome of the baseball season.

Swarm intelligence utilizes a group’s knowledge to yield an answer or outcome that appeases everyone. Our baseball swarm consisted of 25 Boston Globe readers who collectively answered 20 questions. The swarm had 60 seconds to come to a consensus on each question and each question had up to six answers.


Some questions were answered quickly while others included some push and pull among the participants.

“And what’s fascinating is when we watch these replays, as you saw today, you can actually see people changing their minds when there’s a situation where they didn’t feel strongly about the choice that they had,” said David Baltaxe, UNU’s chief information officer. “You could see them, by the position of their magnet, you can see them moving to their next best choice. And that dynamic movement back and forth as people work as a group, negotiate together until they find a solution that most of them can be satisfied by.”

UNU has conducted swarms that included as many as 200 participants and as few as five. A swarm earlier this year predicted the Kentucky Derby superfecta: the first, second, third, and fourth horses in the race. The odds of that? 540-1.

“The swarm may not be 100 percent perfect, however, it is almost always better than the average individual who participates and in that way, the swarm is amplifying the intelligence of the participants,” Baltaxe said.


Here are the results from our baseball swarm, along with accompanying gifs for some of the questions that had more push and pull between participants. We’ll check back in October to see how they did:

AL East: Toronto

AL Central: Cleveland

AL West: Texas

NL East: Washington

NL Central: Chicago Cubs

NL West: San Francisco

First AL Wild Card: Boston

Second AL Wild Card: Baltimore

First NL Wild Card: LA Dodgers

Second NL Wild Card team: St. Louis

ALCS winner: Cleveland

NLCS winner: Chicago Cubs

World Series winner: Chicago Cubs

How many games will the World Series go? 6

AL Cy Young Award: Cole Hamels

AL MVP: Jose Altuve

AL Manager of Year: Terry Francona

NL Cy Young Award: Stephen Strasburg

NL MVP: Kris Bryant

NL Manager of Year: Joe Maddon

Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.