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 Post subject: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:52 am 
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Looking in the Sunday paper, I noticed that Boston has scored more runs than the Yankees and given up fewer runs than the Yankees. In fact, the Yankees are average or below average in both categories. Yet they are in first place. How do you explain this?


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 10:39 am 
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The Yankees have won more games.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 10:40 am 
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The Yankees have won more games.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 10:42 am 
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Luck.<p>There's an old adage that "the good teams win close games." And that old adage is bullshit.<p>If you go back through the final standings over the last century, the standings in terms of win/loss records almost always correspond to the standings in terms of run differential.<p>When a team significantly deviates from its run differential, it got lucky.<p>In this case, the Yankees have won 8 more games than their run differential says they should have, which is huge at this point in the season.<p>The Yankees should be 73-57 and the Red Sox should be 78-51. Instead, the Yankees are 81-49 and the Red Sox are 76-53.<p>Close games make the difference. The Yankees are 21-14 in games decided by a single run, and Boston is 11-17 in such games.<p>If you believe in the "good teams win close games" adage, there's your answer. I happen to believe that good teams beat the snot out of their opponents, and lucky teams win close games.<p>And I say that as a Yankees fan.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 1:33 pm 
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Well, you're both right. I fear the Yankees have been lucky, given the spottiness of their starting pitchers. I don't think their luck will last forever, so let's hope (I, too, am a Yankee fan) that their pitching improves. But let's say it doesn't. Do you think the Red Sox will overtake them?<p>[ August 30, 2004: Message edited by: ADKbrown ]</p>


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 1:44 pm 
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ps: Matt, can you explain the run differential and how you derived the theoretical won-lost records of the Yankees and Sox? <p>I once looked at the differential between runs scored and runs given up through the years. As I recall, a champion team's differential is not that much greater than the differentials of lesser teams in any given year, when looked at a per-game average.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 3:33 pm 
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Sure. It's an application of the Pythagorean Theorem, and it was invented by noted baseball stat-head Bill James. The formula is Runs Scored [squared] / (Runs Scored [squared] + Runs Allowed [squared]) = Expected Winning Percentage. Then multiply that Expected Winning Percentage by 162 to get the expected number of Wins.<p>Most teams finish seasons within three games of the record predicted by that formula. Right now, the only MLB teams more than three games different from their Expected Win/Loss Record are:<p>New York Yankees (8 games better than expected)
Chicago White Sox (5 games worse than expected)
Detroit Tigers (5 games worse than expected)
Seattle Mariners (4 games worse than expected)
New York Mets (4 games worse than expected)
Chicago Cubs (5 games worse than expected)
Cincinnati Reds (8 games better than expected)
Milwaukee Brewers (4 games better than expected, which is especially sad to say for a team already in last place).<p>At the end of the season, I'll come back and see how that list has changed. I'm willing to bet that it will be shorter, not longer. Over the long haul, run differential is the most consistent predictor of team success, and the more games you play, the closer you tend to get to your predicted record. Obviously, the more close games a team plays, the less accurate this system will be, and so the only remaining question is whether you think the difference in 20 one-run games over the course of a season is made by skill or luck.<p>Troubling to you and I as Yankees fans is that the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the best record in baseball at 86-44, are only three games over their expected record. That means they really are nearly as good as their record says they are, and the Yankees may not be. If the anticipated New York/St. Louis World Series manifests, the Cards have to look like the favorites (though you probably didn't need me to tell you that with the way they're hitting).<p>[ August 30, 2004: Message edited by: Matthew Grieco ]</p>


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 5:27 pm 
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That's interesting, but I must point out that between a quarter and a third of the teams are outside your three-game margin. What is the rationale for squaring these numbers? Is there some statistical validity to it or is it just a formula that happens to work, more or less?


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:32 pm 
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As a baseball fan, I must thank you for that fascinating explanation about run differentials, Matt.<p>As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I must also thank you for proof of my team's power.<p>As a Cardinals fan who wasn't alive the last time we won a Series and who was pushing 4 years old during the infamous St. Louis/Kansas City Series, I must sorrowfully tell both you and ADK that if it comes to a Cardinals/Yankees Series, it will be one hell of a show, but one the Yankees will lose.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:02 am 
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By the way, jugding by previous discussions you two have had in this forum, I think it would behoove you to read Bill Simmons' column. Sure, he's a Boston fan, but he's also an extremely good writer and pontificator of baseball. I was immediately a fan after surfing for accounts last October of "The Game 7" and found his heartbreaking tale.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:45 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Niko Dugan:
By the way, jugding by previous discussions you two have had in this forum, I think it would behoove you to read Bill Simmons' column. Sure, he's a Boston fan, but he's also an extremely good writer and pontificator of baseball. I was immediately a fan after surfing for accounts last October of "The Game 7" and found his heartbreaking tale.<hr></blockquote><p>I hate it when people say, "You should have seen/read/heard him before he made it big," but when he was struggling to get out of Boston in the 1990s, his site was often amazing.<p>Still good.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:03 am 
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From a Yankee fan:<p>The Yankees' success to date has been the result of a lot of luck and a lot of poor pitching by opponents. Against good teams, the Yankees can look rather ordinary (witness their 4-5 record against the Angels, their 5-4 record against the Rangers, their 1-2 record against the Twins and their 5-8 record against the Red Sox--although the Yankees are 4-2 against the Red Sox recently). The one playoff-bound team against which the Yankees have played well is Oakland (7-2), but that was before Barry Zito apparently reversed his fortunes and before Rich Harden started winning, as well as before Octavio Dotel arrived to stabilize Oakland's bullpen.<p>When the Yankees play teams like the Angels (very similar to the Yankees with a suspect rotation but deep bullpen and patient offense), which take a lot of pitches, play small ball and run, the Yankees look like the oldsters they are. The Yankees have a tissue-thin margin for error with their rotation (and much of that tissue is within the back of 39-year-old Kevin Brown and in the elbow of 35-year-old Mike Mussina). <p>No Yankee fan I know would be surprised if the team was either swept in the first round of the playoffs or if it won the World Series. That's how potentially bad and potentially good this team is.<p>GM Brian Cashman deserves a lot of credit for working within the considerable constraints of his position (chiefly the lack of baseball acumen of his boss and the tendency of his boss to ignore the recommendations of baseball-savvy advisers), but deep down he has to know the '04 Yanks are a house of cards (no pun intended), and there's no hope down on the farm.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 6:54 am 
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Tuesday's final from Yankee Stadium:<p>Cleveland 22
New York 0


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:38 am 
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It doesn't get any uglier, except maybe when Golden Teapot beats Suburban Market 54-3. Here's the box score.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 9:14 am 
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JJ, you beat me to it. I was going to log on this morning and post this:<p>Cleveland--22; New York--0<p>SeewhutImean,Vern?<p>And Cleveland's not even a good team.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:47 am 
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I don't have words for how devastating and stupid a loss like that is.<p>But I'll put it in numbers -- the Red Sox are 19-4 in their last 23 games.<p>On August 16, the Yankees had a 10.5-game lead.
On September 1, the Yankees had a 3.5-game lead.<p>Those are some huge numbers.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 11:42 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Niko Dugan:
I don't have words for how devastating and stupid a loss like that is.<p>But I'll put it in numbers -- the Red Sox are 19-4 in their last 23 games.<p>On August 16, the Yankees had a 10.5-game lead.
On September 1, the Yankees had a 3.5-game lead.<p>Those are some huge numbers.
<hr></blockquote><p>I'm starting to fear this might be deja vu all over again in reverse. Remember 1978? Who will be the Red Sox's Bucky Dent?


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 1:48 pm 
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ESPN.com's Page 2 and Bill Simmons have been all over that angle, and they have some interesting columns up today.<p>As Simmons said in his column, even though the roles are reversed, Yankees fans aren't nervous -- yet. Keep in mind there's still six games between the two, with the last three at Fenway. Man, this is going to be a GREAT September.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 2:56 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by ADKbrown:

I'm starting to fear this might be deja vu all over again in reverse. Remember 1978? Who will be the Red Sox's Bucky Dent?
<hr></blockquote><p>Dent gets the credit for the pop fly that cleared the Monster, but Lou Piniella made an even better play to prevent the Red Sox from scoring a run late in that game. <p>With Rooster Burleson on base for the Red Sox, Pinella lost a fairly deep fly ball in the sun. Instead of ducking or otherwise panicking, Pinella stood there as if he had it all the way, freezing the runner. The ball fell in front of him. He grabbed it on the first bounce and got it back to the infield in a hurry.<p>Burleson never scored the potential winning run.<p>It's way too early to think in terms of the Red Sox having their own F-ing Bucky Dent or Sweet Lou. We Sox fans know better. We'll wait until October, then get ecstatic and then likely heartbroken.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 4:02 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Wayne Countryman:
<p>With Rooster Burleson on base for the Red Sox, Pinella lost a fairly deep fly ball in the sun. Instead of ducking or otherwise panicking, Pinella stood there as if he had it all the way, freezing the runner. The ball fell in front of him. He grabbed it on the first bounce and got it back to the infield in a hurry.<p>Burleson never scored the potential winning run.<p><hr></blockquote><p>I didn't remember that. What a great play.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 5:15 pm 
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Don't forget the collison at home plate.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2004 1:05 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by ADKbrown:
Here's the box score.<hr></blockquote>Apropos of nothing and with displaced local pride, I saw Omar "Six-Hit" Vizquel play a season of A-ball.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2004 2:56 am 
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Correction to what I wrote a few posts earlier: Pinella's play in right field prevented the tying run (not the winning run) from scoring in the 1978 playoff game.<p>Peter Gammons


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2004 3:08 pm 
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And the beat goes on. One run in two games against the hapless Orioles (and I don't care how many games they've won in a row--they're hapless).<p>The Yanks could very well not make the playoffs.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2004 11:01 pm 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>The Yanks could very well not make the playoffs.[/QB]<hr></blockquote><p>And most of us outside of NYC will be all the merrier for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:12 am 
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Drawing your attention to the purported breaking of the curse.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2004 1:14 am 
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<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by SeaRaven:
Drawing your attention to the purported breaking of the curse.<hr></blockquote><p>That's taking one for the team.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:23 am 
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Man, I want the Sox to win the division so bad. But if they make it to the Series with my Cardinals, it's gonna be 1967 all over again.


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 Post subject: Re: Damn Yankees, damn statistics
PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:37 pm 
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And 1967, in turn, was 1946 all over again.


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