Thursday, October 15, 2009

League Championship Series Predictions

Looking back, looking forward...

Division Series Results



The Bill James Playoff Predictor was 4-for-4 in the division series round. The "Secret Sauce" hit two and missed two.



2009 Division Series - Objective Models
BJPPSecret SauceResult

BOS - 60, LAA - 71Boston (34) over LAA (48)Lanaheim over Boston 3-0

NYY - 100, MIN - 42New York (14) over Minnesota (42)New York over Minnesota 3-0

STL - 64, LAD - 65Los Angeles (16) over St. Louis (47) Los Angeles over St. Louis 3-0

PHI - 88, COL - 59Colorado (26) over Philadelphia (58)Philadelphia over Colorado 3-1


There were some good and interesting individual games, but none of the series were particularly good or interesting, as they played only one over the minimum number of games. The first round could have taken 20 games, it took 13. No team won a game to stave off elimination.

Really, the most interesting aspect of the first round was the sheer magnitude of obviously bad calls made by the umpires. And baseball people continue to support the current system, a system in which n-6 (where n is the number of people in the world) people know that a runner being called out is safe or that a runner being called safe is out, and the 6 who don't know are allowed to determine the outcome anyway. Even more frustrating is the belief that some kind of replay usage would require long periods of time or limited manager challenges. Why on earth doesn't MLB just place another umpire somewhere where he can see all the replays, and let him correct the obviously wrong calls?

Anyway, that's a topic for another day.

So it's on to the League Championship Series.

ALCS - New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim



By record, these were the two best teams in the American League. By run differential, they were first and third. Both have looked like World Series contenders for most of the season, and it is not surprising to see them meeting here.

First, lets' go to the objective models.

Bill James Playoff Predictor:
1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (NYY - 12)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (NYY - 3)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (LAA - 14)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (LAA - 12)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (NYY - 10)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (NYY - 8)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (LAA - 8)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (LAA - 7)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (NYY - 7)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (LAA - 19)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (NYY - 15)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or
    went further (LAA - 12)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (5-5 split)

NYY - 55, LAA - 72

Secret Sauce:

New York (14) over LAnaheim (48)

The objective predictors are split on this series. The BJPP thinks the Angels are a better bet - the secret sauce has the Yankees as a big favorite.

I'm of mixed feelings. I dislike the Angels, but hate the Yankees. (I don't have any affection at all for any of the four remaining teams, and only a couple of individual players.) I expect the Yankees to win, but I'm not sure how much of that is reasonable reaction to what the teams have done this year and how much is the reassertion of the old fatalist New England Calvinism1.

In the end, I think the Yankees have better pitching and a better offense. Given that, there's not much reason, other than the sheer randomness of short series baseball, to be picking the Angels.

My Pick: Yankees in six

My Fervent Hope: To be wrong





NLCS - Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers



Unlike the AL, where there are two new2 entrants to the League Championship Series, this is a rematch. Last year, Philadelphia won the NLCS by beating the Dodgers in five games en route to winning the World Series.

Bill James Playoff Prediction System

1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (LAD - 4)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (PHI - 3)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (LAD - 14)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (LAD - 12)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (PHI - 10)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (PHI - 8)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (PHI - 8)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (LAD - 7)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (LAD - 7)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (LAD - 0)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (LAD - 15)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or
    went further (PHI - 12)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (LAD - 12)

PHI - 41, LAD - 71


Secret Sauce:

Los Angeles (16) over Philadelphia (58)

Both of the objective systems like the Dodgers, by pretty hefty margins. At a cursory glance, it looks like offense vs. defense, but they play in fairly extreme parks, and I think that the Dodgers' pitching isn't as much better than the Phillies' as it looks, nor is the offense the Philadelphia advantage that appears on the surface. The Secret Sauce hates Philadelphia's closer (as, I'm sure, do all Phillies fans). It looks to me, on the whole, to be a pretty well-matched series. I don't have a strong feeling on this one, and there isn't a result (sweep one way, sweep the other, anything in between) that would really surprise me.

My Pick: Gun to my head, I go with the Dodgers in six, but without a single hint of passion.





1 - Though I would deny, strenuously, that I'm actually a Calvinist.

2 - Obviously, this only holds for some definitions of "new." The Yankees and Angels have had numerous playoff trips over the past decade, but neither of them made the LCS last season.

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