2017 MX Outdoor Nationals Prediction Update - 1/4 Season
Now that we're a quarter of the way through the season, you're probably asking yourself, "I wonder where the season-long 450 MX predictions stand?" Especially since -- as motocross does -- Eli Tomac has had some combination of problems, maybe fluky and maybe not, that have put him in a hole compared to the expected runner-up Marvin Musquin.
As for frequency of posting, unfortunately there hasn't been much on MotoXGraphs because I've been slammed with a variety of real life things, and MXG doesn't pay the bills (in fact, it's the other way around). I have some other stats that I really want to get to, such as a graph that compares riders in each section of the race, but I can't say when I'll have time to get to it. If it were my job, I'd be cranking out posts every day (because there's definitely enough to look at that hasn't been covered), but unfortunately it's not.
On to the updated 450 projection. There are some big changes, especially for Blake Baggett (oh yeah, and Malcolm Stewart -- how did I miss that he wasn't going to start the season and was still looking for a sponsor?) and a few injured riders.
Each projection, as usual, should be taken with a grain of salt. The injury factor is far from perfect, so either prediction needs some human interpretation, such as whether the rider's motocross previous results or injuries (or lack thereof) will continue or not. The entire point of these predictions is to focus solely on what the numbers say and leave the scouting and interpretation to the people.
Tomac maintains a slim lead over Musquin, but another week where Musquin does better than Tomac and I think they would project as dead even. There's a very large gap to 3rd place with Jason Anderson, but that's partly because of a DNF due to a fluke rock to the head.
While Baggett looked amazing at Thunder Valley and has many thinking he could even contend for #1, the numbers take a longer view, believing in some of the improvement but need a little more success in 2017 before putting him in the same class as Tomac/Musquin. Cooper Webb has shown some flashes but has yet to put together 2 good 450 motos. That only drops him 1 spot, but he's followed very closely by Justin Barcia and Cole Seely.
Justin Bogle surprised nearly everyone with a moto win, which left him with more points already (86) than his preseason prediction (81). He jumps up 5 spots as the biggest mover from the original Top 20. On the other hand, Christian Craig fell to injury, meaning his quality finishes in the first 3 motos (9th, 14th, 4th) and a shot at a Top 10 season will probably be left in the dust by the time he returns to health in a couple weeks.
Speaking of injuries, what happens when we add in the injury prediction? This adjustment is made by looking at what percentage of races each rider missed over the past 5 seasons and reducing their expected points proportionally:
The injury predictions don't have a big impact on the predicted standings, but Trey Canard slips as his most recent injury seems to be prolonged. Some likely culprits such as Barcia and Seely, who have had injury problems in the recent past, lose some points from their projections but not any spots in the standings.
All that's left is the racing! The pressure is back on Tomac, and just like in the Supercross season, he finds himself trailing without much margin for error. And not only is Musquin looking like a real threat to be #1, if Baggett is for real, then Tomac will be taking on contenders from all sides.