Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Shoulda Been a Contender

Not be confused with the sorely missed XFL, X-W-L (aka Pythagorean expectation) is a formula invented by Bill James to estimate how many games a baseball team "should" have won based on the number of runs they scored and allowed. The term is derived from the formula's resemblance to the Pythagorean theorem. (According to the always accurate Wikipedia). For those math geeks in the audience, the formula is...

In more simpleton terms, it's a measure of who's lucky, and who's really F-ing up.

Yankees - $200 million dollars just doesn't buy what it used to (for proof, check out Sahara.) As if being 39-42 wasn't bad enough, Yank-off nation only has to look two columns over to discover they SHOULD BE 46-35 (thanks to scoring a net of +60 runs over the season). To quote SoSG favorite Nelson, "HA HA!"

Detroit, Florida, and Cleavland - These three teams avoid confrontation with the math gods by having records exactly equal to their Pythagorean expectation.

Seattle - Proving it's better to be lucky than good, the Mariners are five games over their X-W-L. And at least one of them knows this. Fearing the vengeance of Pythagoras, Mike Hargrove went underground in a geometric-proof bunker.

DODGERS - The team has opted to not be the five games behind that X-W-L dictates. In the formula world, the Dodgers are playing with the House's money.


carolinabluedodger said...



(Nevermind, he's on a roll.....)

Delino DeShields said...

All mentions of Seattle Marlins are gone. Those responsible for this mistake have been sacked.

Rob said...

I wish I could find the quote, but there was a piece I read at work at lunchtime yesterday discussing the usual problems with statistical modeling not matching real-world circumstances... with Pythagorean numbers, this is especially true.

Rob said...

... er, what I meant to repeat is that it's a fallacy to assume that discrepancies between real life and your model are due to luck.