You are currently viewing archive for October 2013
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

It is 8 AM Sunday night and I am looking forward to Game 4. What an incredible ending to Game 3. As I stated on Facebook, I think it is clear that the home plate umpire made the right call in the ninth inning. Even though the obstruction was not intentional, the third baseman clearly impeded the progress of the base runner. By the way, this was the first WS in history in which the winning run was scored on an error in two consecutive games. The third game is pivotal in determining the eventual winner of the WS because in the last 18 WS when the two teams were tied 1 to 1, the winner of the 3rd game went on to win the series 16 times.

As I discussed in my previous blog, the first World Series was in 1903 between the Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates, which was won by Boston 5 to 3. What is interesting is the owner of Pittsburgh, Barney Dreyfuss, donated his ownership share to the players making the losing player’s share of $1316 more than the winning player’s share of $1182.This never happened again.  

Here are some interesting facts about the WS from 2000 to 2012. Fifteen different teams (50% of the 30 MLB teams) have taken part in the WS. The 15 teams appear in the table below. The Yankees have played in four WS, the most of any team. The Cardinals and Giants are next playing in three WS. The Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, and Cardinals have the most WS wins at two. The winner of the 2013 series will then be the leader in WS wins for the years 2000 to 2013. Of the teams with at least two WS appearances, the Red Sox are the only team not to lose a WS. In fact they won all 8 of their WS games and extended their streak to 9 games and then lost Game 2 of this year’s WS. The Yankees, Tigers, and Rangers have lost the most WS at two. Of the 13 series, 4 have ended in 4 games, 4 have ended in 5 games, 2 have ended in 6 games and 3 have ended in 7 games.

I next thought it would be interesting to break down the wins and losses of WS games from 2000 to 2012. The table below presents this data.World Series Wins and Losses

Some of my observations from this table are:

The Yankees have both won and lost the most WS games. Based on playing a minimum of 10 WS games, the Giants have the best winning percentage of 68.75% and the Yankees had the worse winning percentage at 54.16%. After 4 games in the 2013 WS, the Red Sox have a record of 10 and 2 and even if they lose the next 2 games will still have the best winning percentage based on a minimum of 10 games.

Here are two interesting facts in the history of all WS that will cheer up Yankee fans. The record for most consecutive WS victories belongs to the Yankees who won the WS consecutively from 1949 to 1953. The record for most consecutive WS wins is also held by the Yankees. Appearing in the 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 WS, the Yankees won 14 straight games. Since the boomer generation dawned in 1946, when the Cardinals beat the Red Sox, the table below compares 1946 prices to 2012 prices.

Woirld Series Items Then and NOw
Would you believe another strange ending just happened in Game 4? As I finished writing this blog, for the first time in the history of all post-season games, a game ended on a pickoff of a runner on first base. Why was the Red Sox even holding the pinch-runner on first base anyway? Why did the pitcher even throw over to first base? The entire ending of Game 4 goes against all baseball strategy. What strange results remain to be seen in the remaining 2013 games?

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
As the 2013 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals begins, I felt it would be appropriate to discuss how the World Series started. Before 1903, many attempts were made by baseball to declare a champion between existing leagues. Leagues were made and disappeared throughout the 19th Century. In 1894, Pittsburgh’s owner William Temple offered a championship trophy to the winner of a best-of-seven-game series between the first and second-place teams in the National League. This experiment lasted three years and its popularity became the forerunner of the World Series as we know it today. In 1900, The Pittsburg Pirates were sold to a man named Barney Dreyfuss.
Barney Dreyfuss was born in Freiburg, Germany in 1865. He came to this country as a young man of age 18. Due to his poor health, he was encouraged by his doctor to play the game of baseball. In 1890, Dreyfuss obtained part ownership of the Louisville Colonels, a Major League team in the American Association League. Upon purchasing the Pirates, a team in the National League, he brought with him from the Louisville team future Hall-of-Famers Honus Wagner, Rube Waddell, and Fred Clarke.
With the founding of the American League in 1901, a rivalry between the two leagues was created. The two leagues fought over getting fans and getting players. In 1903, a truce between the two leagues was established. Dreyfuss led the successful battle to obtain a commissioner over both leagues. Dreyfuss was the leading force in establishing a document between the two leagues establishing player procurement and player salaries. Also, the document established the World Series to be played between the top team in each league. Because of his efforts, Barney Dreyfuss was called the “Father of the World Series.
The first World Series was between the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League and the Boston Americans of the American League. The first series was a best of nine-game series. The Boston Americans won the series 5 to 3. Even though the first official World Series was a success, the 1904 series was cancelled. John Brush, president of the National League champion New York Giants, refused to play the Boston Americans. The reason he gave was that the American League was an inferior league. However, through negotiations the series was resumed in 1905 as a best-of-seven series. The New York Giants defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 4 to 1. The World Series has remained a best-of-seven series. The exception is for the years 1919 to 1921. For those years, it was a best-of-nine game series. There was no 1994 World Series due to a player’s strike.
The contributions of Barney Dreyfuss to baseball led to his induction into the baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2008. He owned the Pittsburg Pirates from 1900 to 1932. He built the first modern steel-frame stadium, Forbes Field, in 1909. His Pirates won the World Series in 1909 and 1925.
If you read my previous blog you saw my new formula for predicting a team’s winning percentage. The formula states a team’s winning percentage is equal to .000683*(runs scored by a team – runs allowed by a team) +.50. Using my formula for this year, the Red Sox were number one with a predicted winning percentage of .6346 and the Cardinals were second with a predicted winning percentage of .6277. I will go with my formula and predict the team that won the first World Series will win the 2013 World Series. Yes, Boston will be the champions.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

 In my July 23, 2013 blog posting, I made my predictions for the post-season. You can read this blog by going to my blog page and clicking on the month of July in the archives. Quoting from that blog I wrote, “These are my playoff predictions for 2013. First, the division winners are for the AL-East Boston, for the AL-Central Detroit, for the AL-West Oakland, for the NL-East Atlanta, for the NL-Central St Louis, and for NL-West the Dodgers. My two wild-card choices are for the AL Tampa Bay and Baltimore or Texas (a tossup) and for the NL Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. I pick Detroit for the AL-Conference winner and St. Louis for the NL-Conference winner. The last time Detroit won a World Series was in 1984 under the leadership of Sparky Anderson. Detroit’s current manager Jim Leyland managed the 2013 All-Star game to win and the AL won. Yes, with the help of home field advantage the Detroit Tigers will win the 2013 World Series. Sadly, I predict my beloved Yankees will be on vacation during the playoffs.” It turned out of the 11 teams (a tie between Tampa Bay and Texas for the second wild-card) that made the post-season; I correctly predicted 10 of them. The only mistake was the choice of Baltimore over Cleveland. My two choices for the World Series, St. Louis and Detroit are alive and doing well.

These predictions were made on July 21 and printed on July 23. The principal tool I used to make these predictions was the new formula I developed which I called the Linear Theorem for Baseball. The formula is as follows:

The Expected Winning Percentage for a Team is equal to .000683*(the runs scored by a team – the runs allowed by a team) +.50.

Expressed symbolically: Expected Win% = .000683*(RS-RA)+.50.

The idea behind this formula is that the best predictor of a team’s performance (after several games) is the difference between their runs scored and runs allowed. I will be presenting my new formula in Baltimore at the Joint Meeting of the American Math Society and the Mathematical Association of America on January 18, 2014.

So how did my formula equate to the final MLB team’s standings in 2013? The following table list only those MLB teams whose (RS-RA) were positive. The table is sorted on the Linear Theorem % Column which gives the percentage of wins based on my Linear Theorem. Here are my observations:

(1) The six divisional winners (Boston, Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Dodgers) won their divisions based on my formula.

(2) The top 11 teams by my formula (see the last column) made it to the post-season. How about that?


 Dr. Stan The Stat Man's New Formula Predictions


I also have formulas for the NFL and the NBA.

For the NFL, Expected Win% = .001538*(PS-PA)+.50 (PS is points scored and PA is points allowed)

For the NBA, Expected Win% = .000364*(PS-PA)+.50

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The “Shul By The Sea” is actually Temple Beth-El in City Island, NY. My talk was titled Minorities in Baseball. The audience was really into baseball and made me feel welcome. I observed they were wearing Yankee and Mets hats and shirts. My talk looked at the contribution of Jewish, African-American, and women baseball players.

The Jewish players I singled out for their special contributions to baseball were Lipman Pike, Barney Dreyfuss, Morris Berg, Hank Greenberg, and Sandy Koufax. Some of their contributions were developing the first professional baseball league, negotiating the first World Series, and building the first steel-framed stadium. Did you know: There was a time when it was illegal for a baseball player to play for pay; there was a Major League catcher who, while working as a spy during World War II, helped to plan Colonel Jimmy Doolittle’s famous raid; there was a Jewish Major League player who suffered the same type of abuse as Jackie Robinson did; the first designated hitter in baseball was Jewish; the first batter when Fenway Park opened in 1912 was Jewish; there was a barnstorming team called “The House of David” and Satchel Paige actually pitched for that team.

Some of the African- American players discussed were Moses Walker, Rube Foster, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and Artie Wilson. Did you know: Jackie Robinson was not the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues; the last man to bat .400 for a season in a professional baseball league was not Ted Williams; there was actually a pitcher who pitched in more than 2500 games with over 100 no-hitters, Bob Feller and Sandy Koufax supported the integration of baseball; there was a pitcher who pitched 64 consecutive scoreless innings; there was a catcher who hit over 70 home runs in several seasons and was rumored to have hit a fair-ball out of the old Yankee Stadium (if true, he would have been the only player to ever do it).

Some of the women contributors to baseball were Amelia Bloomer, Jackie Mitchell, and Joann Weaver. Did you know: The last person to hit .400 on a professional team was a woman; the first organized women’s baseball team was formed in 1866; there was a woman pitcher who struck-out Ruth and Gehrig in an exhibition game; Rogers Hornsby started his career playing on a women’s team; there were barnstorming women’s teams that played exhibition games against men’s teams; a woman actually signed a minor league baseball contract; and the movie “A League of Their Own” was an accurate portrayal of the Women’s Professional League.

My talk was well received and at the end of the presentation, there were several interesting questions. I wish to thank all of the members of Temple Beth-El for their invitation to speak and for making me feel very welcome.

If your organization would like me to speak about one of my several topics on baseball, please contact me by email.

Dr Stan talks at Shul By The Sea

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In 2012, the MLB changed its playoff format (thank you Bud Selig) to include two Wild Card teams in each league, with those clubs playing each other in a one-game playoff for the right to move on to the Division Series. Let’s turn the clock back to 2012. The two Wild Card AL teams were the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers with the Orioles finishing the regular season tied with the Rangers. If there was only one Wild Card team they still would have had a playoff game anyway. The Orioles defeated the Rangers and then lost to the Yankees. The two Wild Card NL teams were the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlantic Braves with the Braves being the first Wild Card team. The second Wild Card Cardinals went on to defeat the Braves and then the Nationals before losing to the eventual World Series Champion Giants. This year the Rays, after beating the Rangers to break a tie for the second Wild Card spot, went on to defeat the first Wild Card Cleveland Indians and now will meet the Boston Red Sox in a five-game Division Series. The second Wild Card Reds were eliminated by the first Wild Card Pirates who now will play the Cardinals.

I will now look at what I feel are the benefits of increasing the number of teams that enter the playoffs from eight to ten, which include in each league the three Divisional winners and two Wild Card teams. Since every year will now guarantee at least two one-game playoffs, the increased drama and excitement will be felt by the fans. If you watched the two one-game Wild Card playoff games this year in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the fans treated their games as if they were the seventh game of the World Series. Baseball was again relevant in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The fact that two extra teams are added will keep more teams in the chase for a longer period of time. In the AL this year, six teams stayed in contention for the two Wild Card spots. These teams included the unlikely Kansas City Royals who were in the hunt until the last week of the season. It would be great to see the Royal fans fill Kaufmann Stadium, the way they did in the days of George Brett, shouting like the Pirate fans did this year. Since no team wants to have their entire season dependent on a one-game playoff, winning the Division Title is now a top priority. General Manager Brian Cashman referring to 2010 said, "I'm not taking away from Tampa Bay's Eastern Division title, but we didn't try to win the division. We tried to line ourselves up for the playoffs and that worked. We wound up sweeping Minnesota.” In the history of the Wild Card format (since 1995), the AL Wild Card team has come from the Eastern Division 13 out of 17 years (the Red Sox 7 times and the Yankees 4 times).With the addition of the second Wild Card team, the other two Divisions will now have more teams in the playoffs.

However, there are of course critics to the new format. One argument put forth by critics is it is not fair that a 94–win team that claims the first Wild-card spot should have its season dependent on a one-game playoff against a second Wild Card team with only 85 wins. Detractors argue that if too many teams make the playoffs it diminishes the value of the regular season. Of course, the old-time traditional baseball fan is against any change to the way baseball was from 1903 to 1960 (two leagues, eight teams in each league, two pennant winners playing in the World Series).

In the 18 seasons since the Wild Card became part of baseball (1995-2012), 9 Wild Card teams have been to the World Series and five have won. Can you name them? On the other hand, only three times has the team with the best regular-season record won the World Series. Can you name these teams?

I ask the following question: What will the traditional old-time baseball fan say if a second Wild Card team was to win the World Series?       




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