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Just The Sports: Don't Believe The Hype

Just The Sports

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Don't Believe The Hype

Or, in this particular case, don't believe a baseball team's win-loss record without examining the underlying variables. Ted Robinson has fallen into the same trap that catches many unsuspecting sports journalists and followers who fall in love with a team's record in the early part of a season. There are some instances where a team's early success continues throughout the whole season, but there are just as many instances where a team gets off to a fast start only to fall off in the end. So why is that?

In Robinson's article, he discusses the Colorado Rockies who now sit atop the NL West standings and predicts they have what it takes to contend for the league title for the whole season. While this is probably nice for Rockies fans to hear, it is also a misleading claim. Especially coming after the Rockies have lost five of their last seven games.

After only 67 wins in 2005, many figured on another losing year for Colorado, but instead early indications point towards the Rockies being improved enough that they could stay in the N.L. West race all season.

Actually, early indications point to them finishing the season somewhere around .500. If only you knew the right data to look at Ted. To this point, the Rockies have won twenty games while losing fifteen, but they have done this mostly with smoke and mirrors and luck. While their record indicates they have been better than most of their opponents, the Rockies have actually been outscored, 180 to 185.

That brings me to the Pythagenport formula used to predict what a team's record will be at the end of the season by using a team's runs scored and a team's runs allowed. This is not a secret formula. It has been around for years, and has been proven to be pretty accurate. According to the Pythangenport formula, if the Rockies and their NL West counterparts continue to score at the same pace, the Rockies will finish fourth out of five teams. Whether or not this changes during the season will require the Rockies to score more runs while keeping their opponents from crossing home plate.

Another team whose current winning percentage is a smokescreen for their flaws are the Philadelphia Phillies: 178 runs scored; 179 runs allowed. Conversely, a team who will end up improving on their win-loss record is the Atlanta Braves: 202 runs scored, 184 runs allowed. Look for those teams to soon flip-flop places in the NL East.


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