AL East & Pythagoras

As of this morning, Jame’s Pythagorean runs-scored model predicts the following for the AL East: (The won lost are rounded and the percentage is based on the rounded numbers. The last percentage in parentheses is based on the unrounded numbers

Toronto 27 22 0.551 (0.546)
NY 26 22 0.542 (0.541) 0.5
Boston 26 22 0.542 (0.534) 0.5
Tampa 26 23 0.531 (0.539) 1.0
Balt 26 23 0.531 (0.530) 1.0

Incredibly close and almost the exact opposite of the actual standings

Even as it is only 3.5 games separate all five teams, and they’re all over .500.

Unless Baltimore collapses (which, to be honest, I still expect them to) it’s the best division in history.

There are 10 teams in the east, both NL and AL. NONE of them are below .500.

You’d be crazy if you *didn’t *expect the O’s to come back down to earth (in fact, they may have already started, losing 4 in a row). They’ll be in last place by the All Star break.

Not only are no AL or NL East teams below .500, they are all *above *.500.

Just for clarification, “Jame’s” is a typo and in fact refers to baseball stat man/guru Bill James, correct?

I think we established in a previous thread that never before has a division had all teams above .500 at the end of a season (we found one or two examples were the last place team was dead on .500) and I’m pretty sure never even this LATE into a season.

That said I’m kind of surprised it didn’t happen at least once or twice back when the schedules were more balanced. Now that they are balanced, however, it’d be miraculous for this to keep up; these team have to play each other 40% of the time. Someone’s going to get hammered. I fully expect it will be the Orioles, though, sad though it makes me to say it, the Blue Jays have a lot of alarming new problems nobody expected.

The White Sox are 28-22 and I am not entirely convinced they wouldn’t be dead last if they played in the AL East. The only really good AL team outside that division is Texas, who are terrific. (I don’t buy into the Indians.)

Much more interesting is the NL East. Who there is the Orioles? I don’t see an Orioles there; they’re all decent clubs. The Mets are on the wrong side of run differential but I think, actually, they could improve that. I think Washington could disappoint still, but they show no signs of it yet. The Phillies have holes and just lost Roy Halladay for awhile but that staff is still really stacked up…

Gotta disagree about the Orioles collapsing this time, even though it’s been a longstanding tradition. If there were any doubts about Buck Showalter’s ability to quickly clean out a losing attitude and install some grit in an organization, as he’s done in all his previous managing jobs, the O’s performance this year should prove it.

But there are neither any obvious playoff teams nor cellar-dwellers in the AL East yet, and that is surprise this late in the year. A few more key injuries either way are likely to make the difference.

The Nats have the power of rapidly-developing youth on their side-yes a lot of things would still have to break their way, but this could be the next dynasty-level team. If so, Thank God because I loathe parity.

I really like the Nats this year. I love the youth and the fact that they weren’t afraid to bring Harper straight up the show this early. I do not love the Mets, though. As **RickJay **pointed out, they have a negative run differential. It’s a fairly significant -20, by the way, which is not good this early in the season. The Mets are the team whose roster does not inspire much confidence for me.

Humor the casual baseball fan who doesn’t follow the statistics: What the heck does Pythagoras have to do with anything? I know the name only in relation to the theorem and numerology. The former doesn’t seem to apply, baseball being played on a diamond rather than a right triangle, and there doesn’t seem to be enough derision in this thread for it to be the latter.

The theory is that the winning percentage of a team should be equal to the square of that team’s runs scored divided by the sum of the squares of the team’s runs scored and runs allowed. It’s called the Pythagorean due to the formula’s similarity to the original Pythagorean Theorem, but that’s pretty much a coincidence.

The runs scored/runs allowed formula generally does a better job of estimating a team’s future winning percentage than just extrapolating their current winning percentage forward.

Wikipedia has more.

It’s an estimation of what your record “should” be based on your Runs Scored versus your Runs Allowed.

Correct. Sorry.

I was sort of hoping it may have been Jame Gumb.

To provide the actual equation, James theorized that

Runs Scored Squared / Runs Scored Squared+Runs Allowed Squared = Expected Winning Percentage

So if a team scores 800 runs and allows 700, you would expect them to go about 92-70. And in fact it’s usually pretty accurate. I believe recently they started using an exponent of 1.85 or something like that instead of 2 and found it a tiny bit more accurate but if you square the numbers you’re pretty close.

The usefulness of it is that a team whose record is dramatically different from the Pythagorean projection is almost certainly just really lucky or really unlucky, and their luck is likely to change. The Indians, for instance, are 27-22, which is a very good record, but have actually allowed more runs than they’ve scored. James’s theory was that their runs scored and allowed is a better predictor of how they’ll do the rest of the season, that their luck cannot hold out. It’s usually true; if you want to bet on a team collapsing your smart money is on the Indians.

Why this is interesting is that in the AL East, not only are all the teams over .500, but they’ve all scored more runs than they have allowed, so it’s not because any of them have gotten really lucky, it’s because they’ve all outplayed their opponents.

Asd Toronto and Boston both won today, now everyone in the AL East is better than two games over and the whole division is separated by just 2.5 games. It’s a great race already.