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Saturday, October 11, 2003

FOR STAT HEADS ONLY....

Before I write about the Dodger players that will be paid through next year, I have decided to write about something super baseball nerdy, but interesting to those who gamble. What teams tend to win in the playoffs?

Most super curmudgeon baseball stathead wienies consider the playoffs a crapshoot. Baseballprospectus.com gave a quick analysis about how a homefield advantage team has a 54 percent chance of winning, which lends credence to the theory that the playoffs are in fact a crapshoot.

My fellow baseball nerdo friend, debated amongst ourselves about whether that was true or not, instead of debating about which girls were cute, which gives you an idea of how we might look and act if you haven't met us. We spat out an idea based only on the playoffs in recent memory, i.e. the last two years. We felt the better pitching tended to win.

Just a moment ago, instead of looking up pornography like a normal computer dork on a late Saturday evening, I decided to look up the pitching staffs ERAs of all the teams that had been in the playoffs since the division series had been initiated in 1995. What I found was surprising: Teams with lower ERA had a 60 percent chance of winning the division series, a 56.25 percent chance to win the championship series, and a 37.5 percent chance to win the World Series. Why this progression? My theory is that old fashioned dumbass managers believe it necessary to go to a four or three man rotation in the playoffs. That theory would work, IF, the world series began right after the end of the regular season. But to tire a pitcher out by using him relentlessly as the playoffs go on, made the team tend to fail in the long run. Yet another example of things that worked for baseball in the 30s, being used now to the detriment of the team.

That being said, why would my friend and I think that better pitching was important? Statheads like baseballprospectus love making predictions on the basis of their feelings rather than the numbers. Or they tend not to look at the picture as a whole. For instance before this year's championship series they predicted the Red Sox startling offense would just blow up the Yankees. But if you watch the games so far, or see the replay of Don Zimmer rolling in the dirt, you know that good pitching has not only thrown through the games, but good pitching has thrown the bench coach of the Yankees into a headspin.

Al Leiter said it best on a recent broadcast: "It's easier for me to strike out a player as a pitcher than for him to get on base." And that should be obvious to everyone. Barry Bonds AVERAGE percentage chance to get on a base, not make a homerun, but to merely get ON BASE, is only 42.8 percent. Which is very good, but remember kids, you don't get points for getting to first. That means that 57.2 percent of the time, Barry was OUT. Totally gone. To correllate this with my above rant: In a small sample size, i.e. the playoffs, pitchers will beat up hitters, because predicting how well a pitcher will do has ALWAYS been based on a small sample size as starters only throw once every few days. But hitters hit over 100 games usually to draw upon their statistics, and how often have we seen players given a few at bats and do well, only to seem them given a full season of playing where they do terribly. For batters to be predictable, you need to have a large sample size. If they only have sucess 35 percent of the time, it is VERY possible that a small sample size for a batter will reveal nothing and in fact show the batter to be a good hitter when he is in fact not. Once more my genious mind has revealed the glaring deficiencies in statheads analysis...and once more no one listens to me. But have at that info, if you're a gambler in these playoffs it can come in helpful.
FUN TIME AT FENWAY AND AN ODD BEGINNING

This blog is a Dodger blog, but it's being created to coincide with new Dodger ownership, and hopefully a new era, to rise up from the crap dark abyss that Fox led this team through. Anyway, as I write this, it is game 3 of the Red Sox/Yankees ALCS, and Don Zimmer is rolling on the grass from a Pedro judo throw. When I first witnessed this, I immediately thought this was the end of Pedro in Boston. Joe Buck calmed me down and pointed out Zimmer was the first to throw a punch. Zimmer is probably best known to Americans as that fat guy who does the hemmorhoid commercials, and also as the Yankees bench coach.

I used to love WWF when I was a kid, and anytime a "serious" sport can descend to the depths of that spandex show, it's a good thing. Replay shows that Zimmer took a swing at Pedro, and like any person who's on national television, the last thing Pedro wanted to do was look like a little pussy and run away from an old man's weak fist. But the alternative was to disarm Zimmer. McCarver is telling us now that Zimmer has plastic for knees, something McCarver is probably familiar with as he and Zimmer were both in World War I together.

This blog is a rambling mess, that is going to focus on the Dodgers, but also whatever big sporting event is on the air. In the next few days I plan to talk about the McCourt ownership, and review all the players who have guaranteed contracts with the Dodgers through the 2004 season, and how I expect them to do, based on my curmudgeon talents of obsessive baseball watching.

Right now I want to express my opinion on this game. I hate the American League first and foremost, and I hate when I agree with any topic with Tim McCarver. Tim McCarver is a southern redneck, and I'm a sophisticated arrogant Yankee, but we both understand that the designated hitter rule is what allows clowns like Clemens and Pedro to bean people with impunity. This is an odd beginning to a Dodger blog, the 4th such blog on the net, and wildly inferior so far to the others. But what a perfect topic to start out with....

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