The Mockingbird

Pythagorean Pitching

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Bill James gave us a way of estimating how many wins a team will get based on how many runs they score and allow:

Runs Scored2

Runs Scored2 + Runs Allowed2

It looks simple, but there’s some real finite math in there and it works pretty well. For example, here are the projections for the American League East last season:


It’s no surprise that Boston was way off – how do you have a winning season when you allow more runs than you score?? But the rest of them are extremely close, which goes to show that despite all the hand wringing over team strategy, manager’s decisions, clutch hitting, stealing bases, etc., none of that matters in the long run as how well your team can hit and pitch.

Toronto was projected to win 45 games (they finished 44-43) over the first half this season. But what if they had the same offence they did last year? (which is entirely reasonable, seeing that we have the same team except for Hillenbrand being replaced by Thomas, and the young guys like Rios and Hill are just getting better while nobody is really declining except Zaun).

It’s not fair to say that we would have scored the same number of runs (472) that we would have last season because offence is down across the league, but if we managed the same 29 runs above the American League average, that would give us 455 runs this year (instead of 415), which translates into a record of 49-38, or 4 games back of Boston.

More fun with this tomorrow…


Written by halejon

July 17, 2007 at 7:14 am

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