Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday Pythagorean - 4/9/2007

One of the things that I like to do during the baseball season is compile a weekly report of the AL standings, looking at runs scored and allowed, to see who's better than their records and who's worse.

For those unfamiliar, the Pythagorean report is based on a Bill James discovery regarding the relationship between runs scored, runs allowed and winning percentage. It intuitively makes sense that a teams record will be related to how many runs they score and how many they allow. What James discovered was that, for almost all teams, the winning percentage is very close to a ratio of the square of the runs scored to the sum of the squares of the runs scored and runs allowed. Which was dubbed the "Pythagorean" theorum of baseball.

The report consists of, for each team, its runs/game, runs allowed/game and Pythagorean project winning percentage, along with its rank among the teams in the league for each of those categories. The Pythagorean winning percentage is calculated as (r ^ 1.83) / ( (r ^ 1.83) + (ra ^ 1.83) ). (1.83 has been determined to be a slightly more accurate exponent with the current offensive levels than 2.) Using the Pythagorean winning percentage, the expected wins total is calculated and compared to the actual win total. Any difference between actual and projected performance is expressed as "luck", with negative numbers representing underperforming teams. Then I do a linear projection of final records, based on current winning percentage, and based on Pythagorean winning percentage.

Finally, you get my weekly commentary on noteworthy items revealed by the numbers, or general purpose Sox items that I feel like mentioning...

  • Why are the Red Sox 3-3? Because they aren't scoring runs. Take a look at these OBPs:

    Ortiz .333
    Lugo .320
    Lowell .320
    Ramirez .308
    Youkilis .308
    Crisp .227
    Varitek .211

    That's 7/9 of the lineup making outs over 66% of the time. Combine that with 3 HR in the first six games, and you've got a team that's hitting, cumulatively, .237/.315/.338. That's not going to get it done.

  • The pitching, on the other hand, has been great in 4 of 6 games. The two bad starts were bad but not insurmountably bad. The Saturday game in Texas got out of hand due to an incredibly awful performance from J.C. Romero, who faced 5 batters and allowed 5 hits.

  • One week is too soon to make even cursory assessments about anything. The Yankees should have an excellent offense, and thus far they have. Their pitching is suspect, and this week it was. The Red Sox should have an excellent offense, and this week it wasn't. But their pitching should be good, and this week it was.

  • Papelbon was awesome last night. The Rangers' hitters looked overmatched. And that was the right time to bring him in - he didn't pitch Saturday, Monday's an off-day, and that's where the game was on the line.

Given the pitching, they should be better than 3-3. Given the offense, they're lucky not to be 1-5. All things considered, the positive signs (Papelbon, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Schilling's bounce back, Pedroia) outweigh the negatives. I don't believe that Ramirez, Crisp, Ortiz and Youkilis will all continue the way that they've started. It's not a racing-out-of-the-gate start, but 3-3 is just fine for week one.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/9/2007


Los Angeles4(7)2.29(1)0.736(1)52520




New York6.6(2)6.2(13)0.529(5)3223-1





Kansas City3.17(11)3.67(5)0.433(10)3324-1




Tampa Bay5.2(4)6.8(14)0.38(14)23230

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles11646




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Los Angeles11943




New York8577

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