Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Square Root of the Sum of the Squares of the Other Two Sides

In a desperate attempt to quell my own fears about the bad start, I tried to look beyond a simple "it's still early" approach to these April struggles.

A more comforting thought is "it's still early and there has been an inordinate amount of bad luck." The Toronto Blue Jays Pythagorean Won - Loss record is 13-12. One game OVER the ever important .500 level. Via Baseball Reference we can do some quick 10th grade math.
What is Pythagorean winning percentage?

Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. It is calculated by

(Runs Scored)^1.83
(Runs Scored)^1.83 + (Runs Allowed)^1.83
The Blue Jays have an early season luck factor of -3. They also have a 1-4 record against left-handed starters with a lineup that everyone said was too right hand-hitter heavy in the preseason. They have a numbing 2-6 record in one run games, which would explain why it feels like the Jays are 0-162.

Compare that with the upstart Orioles. Picked by many experts to be "Vampire Weekend - deplorable hipster - seriously this twee shit is getting on my nerves" bad, the first place Orioles are 7-2 in one run games and have an early luck factor of +2. Combine their 2 up with the Jays 3 down, and you have the 4.5 game spread in the current standings.

But, wait! You make your own luck, don't you? Executing with RISP and getting bunts down and not kicking it all over Missouri means wins! Wins are important! Jesse Litsch is 2-1! He wins! If the Jays keep getting people on base, they WILL score more runs. If AJ Burnett does his job and stops "playing jazz" in the bottom of the 7th inning, he will get wins. If Johnny Mac's role expands beyond pinch runner for the aged, the defence in late/close situations will improve. That is never bad if you want glorious wins. Every team is bound to run through a string of bad luck. I'd rather have it in April than August.

The Gingerstorm will roll through Missouri today, hopefully his luck hasn't run out yet. The Jays can make JP look like a genius today by beating Milton Friedman's biggest fan all over the ballyard.


  1. I hear yah- no team does this bad in 1 or 2 run games for long. But their performance since 2000 does look like they've found a way to consistently underperform their pythag.

    2008: -3
    2007: -3
    2006: +1
    2005: -7
    2004: -4
    2003: -1
    2002: -2
    2001: -3

    2000!!!!: +6

    Ughhh....that's a lot of luck.

  2. That is just it! They're already -3, through 25 games. Their luck is magnified by the sample size.

  3. Yah, it's been just sick. Everyone usually goes on about how "inconsistent" the offense is, but if they had distributed their runs a little less evenly so far they would have won another 3-4 games. I'm just scared to bring up pythag because it almost seems like the Jays are a case study in how to defy it. What could be causing that? No closer for most of that period? Team *shudder* strategy??


Send forth the witticisms from on high