June 28, 2007
Help Me Find The Bad Luck
Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Many believe that the difference between the team's actual wins and the team's pythagorean wins is a matter of luck.
The difference between the Yankees actual wins and their pythagorean wins, right now, is minus six.
So, in your opinion which 6 of the Yankees 39 losses, to date, were because of bad luck? Please list them in the comments section below. Thanks in advance for your help with this exercise.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at June 28, 2007 12:51 PM
Well, for starters, that game against the Mariners where the runner was called safe at second when he was clearly out.
And when Mo gave up the homer to Scutaro.
eh, only two I can think of at this moment.
Sorry, Steve. The entire season's an absymal pit of blackness to me right now.
Other than the blown call on Bloomquist's phantom steal of 2nd base (he was out by over a foot), I don't think you can pinpoint any specific bad luck. Sure umps have blown calls vs. the Yanks this year (a bad call on ARod at 3rd comes to mind, as do phantom strike 3 calls on Abreu/Jeter to end games) but that sort of stuff happens to every team.
They're not winning because they're not executing in certain situations and because Torre seems to be swinging and missing on his in-game decisions. Sometimes he'll make a bad decision that goes predictably wrong and sometimes he'll make a defensible decision that still blows up in his face.
Don't forget, the team has started Karstens, Rasner, Wright, Clippard, DeSalvo, Pavano, and Igawa. Show me another team that's .500 or better that has trotted out this many below-average guys in a season (on top of Mike Mussina's regularly-scheduled poor performances). They dug themselves a hole in late April/early May and are now treading water. A 9-game winning streak just to get to .500? What did you think was going to happen when they came back to earth?
The idea is not that particular losses were due to bad luck. It's that, given X runs scored and Y runs allowed, there should be a certain distribution on average among games that reflects the pythagorean (or better, Pythagenport or Pythagenpat) expectation. Surely you can agree that if a team scored the same number of runs as they've given up, in theory their record should be .500, right? Of course this won't always be the case, but history has shown it to be the MOST LIKELY one.
The luck lies in the fact that their margin of victory is much much bigger than their margin of loss, as I showed yesterday.
So in essence, rather than looking at a particular loss as being unlucky, you can look at pairs or groups of games as being unlucky.
For example, (making these scores up) - a 7-3 win, and a 5-3 loss. We could have scored 6 runs in each game and won both of them.
Of course there are a million variables - you can't take runs scored against Kameron Loe and say they should have been scored instead against Johan Santana.
But in general over time these things even out.
Bobo nailed it. The concept of luck in this context just doesn't apply to individual games. Its more like saying, "Overall, the Yankees have been unlucky that when their pitchers play well, their offense is unable to score many runs", etc.
The loss in Boston, game 1 of the series when they got swept. Pettitte pitched a great game and ARod hit two taters. I would argue that Torre went to Mo in what looked like an act of desperation in the eighth. The Sox won in a big comeback. Is that bad luck or bad decisions?
~~~Is that bad luck or bad decisions?~~~
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at June 28, 2007 03:11 PM
I really don't put umpire calls under the heading of bad luck as what comes your way goes against your way.
Bad luck is injuries and the injuries to Wang, Moose, Karstens, Rasner and Hughes all affected the pitching staff and resulted in the early callups of Wright/Clippard/Desalvo, all who did well for a short while but did not have the consistency to last beyond 2 or 3 starts. I think Karstens, Rasner and Hughes would have put in creditable work. Something beyond bad luck is the story of Carl Pavano, who will, I fear, be signed by the SAWKS and go on to an illustrious career with several Cy Young awards.
The only one so far who has escaped is Pettite, who because of the overworked bullpen always seemed to be the one leaving games ahead and never getting a decision. I always hold my breath with both Pettite and Clemens, figuring an injury will have them joining Schwilling on the DL for a few weeks. Ditto Moose, but I think we are over that hump with him now.
Now contrast our bad luck with shit luck. Outside of Mattie Clement whose appearance on the DL registers as a Pavano-esque blessing of sorts, the SAWKS really only have had brief appearances on the DL by Brendan Donnelly and Beckett and now a slightly longer one by the Scwill. Think of what that would be equal to for the Yanks. We'd be half-dozen games ahead with that kind of luck.
The amazing thing about the Yankees has been the incredible pitching depth they've shown. There was always hope. What they have not been able to overcome is the offensive woes. The combination of the Giambino out, Damon seriously affected by injury, Abreu pressing too hard and dealing with a major slump, Matsui injured at the beginning of the year, and Cano batting like a nitwit at times has truly tested a team that has had zero zip nada in terms of backup or bench players.
I don't think anyone saw that coming. Spring training was a consensus view of 1000 runs scored and one of the monster lineups in the history of baseball. Minky in late innings or playing the mark balanger weak hitting ss role seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.
The real weakness of the team was relief and this got exacerbated by the the starting rotation woes.
Now I know Steve (You're only Stevie to me when you whine like a spoiled child of the 90's) has asked this because he wants to wallow in how bad the Yankees suck and (unbelievably) question their will to win. Man Up poof boy!
But I will once again state that the season is long. Luck evens out most of the time and I hold on. More than ever because I want to tell you I told you so (not once but many times). They will come back. They will take the east or a wild card. They will get on a hot streak prior to the playoffs and, if you take the AL pennant in my book, you're inna world serious state of mind.
Please don't threaten my serenity with Shea Hillenbrand, I beg you. That's simply mean. It's Teixeira and Gagne. For Farlessworth and Andy Phillips and a couple of minor leaguers. Praise the Lord.
As I wrote the above a monster thunderstorm struck and it poured for a half hour. Now the sun has reemerged and a rainbow, the end of which I can almost see the top of the Yankee's logo has appeared over Boston.
I kid you not.