April Showers

What makes the Red Sox performance this past month the more remarkable is that even beyond this being a rebuilding year and not even having the full offensive weapon set available to them they have been doing it in the context of a division that is just plain vanilla on fire. Consider:

  • The Bill James heat index. Of the top five teams three of them, #s 1, 3 and 5, are all from the AL East. And the #11 team is AL East as well.
  • In the last ten days one team has gone 8-2 (the Pirates) and seven have gone 7-3. Yep, four of them from the AL East.
  • Collectively the AL East is 35-22 against out of division teams, 61.4% and leaving out the lowly Blue Jays it’s 29-15 or 65.9%. But consider the Jays – they are just one game under .500 against out of division teams (6-7) and (3-10) in division. That 61.4% is good enough to win 100 games a season. 65.9% is 107 wins. Either is likely good enough to win any division.
  • Sure the Sox are on a pace to win a projected 117 games (ridiculous). But the Yankees are on pace to win 101 and the Orioles 97 and the Baseball Prospectus still thinks it will only take 90 wins to take the division. Something, as they say, gots to give.

OK, but still:

  • The Red Sox haven’t been out of first place all season. (I know I should put this into the traditional games behind chart but I haven’t. Here’s what it looks like in terms of winning percentage:

    image

  • In terms of heat, yes the Sox are hot, but they haven’t been below room temperature but for a single two-day stretch! And they’ve been above 100* on seven days.

    image

  • At their current pace they are projected to win a disgusting 117 games. They won’t, but still.

    image

    And definitely check out the Yankee and Oriole projections as well. (And I cheated on the last to losses bar. Not there yet. I’ll fix it if they crash.)

So definitely an impressive April. For the division.

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The boys of spring

Sometimes I dabble in baseball statistics. I’m by no means a true sabremetrician, although I do love to read Bill James and have, pretty regularly, since he started publishing his home bound editions. Somewhere I have both of the hardbound versions, if the weather hasn’t got to them.

My dabbling varies depending on how much free time I have, or more accurately, how little I want to work on what I’m supposed to be working on. A few years ago when the Red Sox were behaving like the Yankees I wrote a full batting order simulator. It was pretty cool. Usually though I just stick to doing things easily accomplished in a spreadsheet. I claim it keeps my skills fresh, but I’ve been using Excel since, well, the earlier of when dinosaurs roamed or when it came out. It’s my second favorite spreadsheet program – but that’s a different discussion.

I am a Red Sox fan. Actually, living in the mountains I tell people that I’m a Rockies fan, but that where on the form it says “religion” I put down “Red Sox”. There is way too much truth in that. So pretty much my sabremetrics are constrained to the AL East.

So this season was approached with mixed thoughts. Burtman was positive, I didn’t, and still don’t see it, but he’s more accurate about this than I am, even if my math is (much) better. Once the ski season ended I went about reconstructing my spreadsheet from scratch and it’s now, mostly working. I started the spreadsheet because I have a chart I produce that I believe tells the story of a season well and that I’ve never seen elsewhere. It’s a simple plot of wins vs losses covering the entire season. Right now it looks like this:

image

There are three types of lines on the chart:

  • Solid lines are the actual plot.
  • Light dashed lines are a simple linear projection extended to 100 games.
  • The grey lines are a few standards – 81-81, 90-72 and 100-62 at the moment, 100 wins being what usually pretty much guarantees a playoff spot, 90 what the Baseball Prospectus projects will do it this season.

The nice thing about the beginning of the season is that short term performance projects very nicely indeed. Right now, the Sox will 119 games, which is pretty much ridiculous, if they continue to perform at the current pace. More interestingly, to win the 90 games the Baseball Prospectus projects necessary to make the playoffs will only require them to go 79-68 over the rest of the season, which is a 0.537 pace. This actually seems reasonable. I mean, we know they aren’t going to keep this up, but 79-68 is pretty reasonable. You have to go back to 2006 and 2001 (not counting last year’s disaster which we have forever blocked from memory except when recounting horrors) for them to have not done that well, which basically means that they have historically done this about 80% of the time. That’s six games above .500 for those of you counting.

Now mind you if they only go six games above .500 for the rest of the season they aren’t very likely to go very deep (like two games) into the playoffs, but still.

And it certainly feels like they’ve already won more games this April then in all of last year.

Of course, back when I had a little more time and was reading Bill a little more regularly, I recall reading that the Red Sox had, historically (but probably not including last year) the best major league record in history – in April.

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Father’s Wedding Roll…

Sometimes I get asked questions. It’s frequently not a high mileage thing to do.

Q:  My daughter is 26 and getting married in a couple of months – so gulp, father of the bride time for me! I think I’m supposed to act like an adult on the big day – does anyone have any suggestions regarding ‘proper’ behavior for this role? 

A: OK, so “father of the bride”. Here are the basic guidelines. (For the definition of “guideline”, see Ghostbusters…) If you need a definition of “adult” I fear you’ve come to the wrong place. Here goes:

While still ambulatory

    Repeat

        Repeat

            Drink.

            Drink heavily.

            No, seriously. You’re not trying. Remember, mixing champagne and whiskey (not
            in the same glass! This isn’t high school!) isn’t bad until you wake up.

        Until pretty drunk. If you are thinking about it, you’re not.

        Cry.

    Until you think you might be seriously drunk.

    Start to tell a story about when she was little, or the first time she did anything. Make
    the introduction to the story so long that only your closest friends stick with it. Then
    giggle, cry, forget where you were, and start again. If anyone is foolish enough to ask you
    to give a toast, produce a 3×5 card from your jacket and then do this.

    Toast your daughter. Down the hatch!

    Fall down, with a happy and contented look on your face. If people catch you, thank
    them. Profusely. You can fall when they let go of you. If they don’t, breathing in their
    face usually works. Secondary high.

    Try, desperately, though you will fail, not to concentrate on what this is costing you and
    the injustice of you having to pay for it all. Unless she’s marrying a partner at Goldman
    Sachs or Bain Capital, in which case you should try to think of it as an investment. It
    won’t be, for you, but she’ll make out like crazy later on, so ok.

    Realize that you aren’t completely drunk yet and increase your intake.

    Show anyone near you a tear and alcohol stained picture of her at age two. At least you
    think it’s a picture of her. It might be her mother. Actually, it might be the picture that
    came with the wallet. If you have this train of thought you have had enough to drink.
    Have a glass of water to pace yourself. No, just joking. Wine.

End while.

Notes:

  • Stay away from your wife as much as possible because she is not going to understand this at all. Trying to explain won’t help. When she finally asks you why you are doing this, smile, burp, kiss her (she will pull away, but it’s your breath, not how she feels about you) and then sob uncontrollably and hug her.
  • Stay away from the wedding cake. It’s not for you and falling into it is not cool even if it does look like a really, really nice pillow, and you could use a really, really nice pillow right about now….
  • Anyone wielding a camera while you are on the dance floor is not your friend. This goes double for video cameras. Triple if they have good sound.
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