Picking the "Dancing with the Stars" winners with sabermetrics

Sabermetrics can tell us the "Dancing with the Stars" finalists before anyone has danced a step

9/16/13 in Media   |   JoeKukura   |   492 respect

Blog Photo - Picking the "Dancing with the Stars" winners with sabermetrics"Dancing with the Stars" trots out another season premiere Monday night, with a new one-night-per-week, Monday-only format. To make room for the new Joss Whedon thingy "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", ABC has eliminated the Tuesday night elimination show. "DWTS" losers will now have to twist in the wind for an extra week, and fans won't know who they've voted off the show until the following Monday.

None of this matters. I can tell you who's going to get eliminated right now. Using a sabermetric formula that takes into account previous seasons' results, I'll tell you right now which "DWTS" contestants are contenders and which ones are chum. You may recall that I correctly predicted Donald Driver as the Season 14 winner as soon as that cast was announced. I am happy to share my formula with you. This formula is not 100% accurate, but has correctly predicted the finalists in 14 of 16 previous seasons of "Dancing with the Stars".

It's simple -- you just look at the contestants' professions. Professional athletes tend to do really well on "Dancing with the Stars". Boy band members, girl band members and musical television series cast members should always be considered favorites.  Actresses and solo female vocalists are often "DWTS" contenders, though male actors and vocalists are seldom contenders.

Blog Photo - Picking the "Dancing with the Stars" winners with sabermetricsPrevious years' winners are plotted on the graph at left. In 16 previous seasons, athletes have won the Mirrorball Trophy on seven occasions. Pop vocalists have won on four occasions. Actresses have won twice. Profession is the most reliable indicator of "Dancing with the Stars" performance.

So sorry, Snooki and Jack Osborne -- reality show contestants almost never win "Dancing with the Stars", so I am declaring that these two contestants have no chance. Yes, former "Bachelorette" contestant Melissa Rycroft did win Season 15. But Ms. Rycroft is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, giving her advantages to which Snooki and Jack Osborne cannot aspire.

Similarly, Bill Nye the Science Guy is not a serious candidate on "DWTS" Season 17. Comedian Bill Engvall and soap opera star Brant Daugherty both meet the profile for early elimination. Only one male actor has ever won (J.R. Martinez, Season 13), and he was an Iraq vet whose face was disfigured in combat. A male actor without a musical background needs a really compelling life story if he's to stand a chance of winning on "Dancing with the Stars".

Actresses have occasionally won (Kelly Monaco, Season 1; Jennifer Grey, Season 7). Typically a winning actress will have some background in musical theater, or a film role in which they did some "Dirty Dancing". Elizabeth Berkeley, Valerie Harper and Leah Remini do not have significant musical theater background, so they are not likely to be finalists on "DWTS" Season 17.

So who will be the "Dancing with the Stars" Season 17 finalists? Click on for my fearless sabermetric analysis that picks the winners....
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview