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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The table below shows for each of the NL teams their actual 2016 winning percentages (W-L%) along with their expected winning percentages (Lin W-L%), calculated using my linear formula Lin W-L% =.000579*(RS – RA) +.50, RS is runs scored and RA is runs allowed.

2017 NL Picks
My choice to win the NL East is the New York Mets. If healthy the Mets starting rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz (currently injured), and Zack Wheeler could be the best in the Major Leagues. Robert Gsellman will be a great temporary replacement for Matz. The loss of 16-game winner Bartolo Colon is a negative. The resigning of Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker bodes well for the offense. Moving Jose Reyes to third base give the Mets a dependable leadoff batter. Yes, the bullpen is a question mark and of course the health of the starting pitchers could bite the Mets. Granderson will be Granderson and produce his 20+ home runs. If healthy the Mets should increase their Lin W-L% to 0.580 from 0.538. Right on the Mets heels will be the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have a solid lineup around maybe the best two positional players in the NL shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Bryce Harper and a starting rotation that should be top-notch, provided Stephen Strasburg stays healthy. The bullpen is a question mark. However, look for the Nationals to be one of the Wild Card teams.

My choice for the NL Central is the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are easily baseball’s most complete team. They have emerging stars all over the depth chart, an excellent rotation and bullpen, and a great defense. In 2016 their Lin W-L% was the highest in the majors which allowed them to have 103 wins. Look for over 100 wins again in 2017.The St Louis Cardinals have an experienced rotation and offensively an already balanced attack will get stronger with the addition of center fielder Dexter Fowler. The Cardinals will battle for the second Wild Card.

The Los Angeles Dodgers should repeat as NL West winners. The Dodgers brought back all the stars they needed. With Clayton Kershaw healthy and shortstop Corey Seager improving on his National League Rookie of the Year season the pitching and offense remain strong. The biggest addition for 2017 was acquiring Logan Forsythe from the Rays. Forsythe fills their hole at second base and gives them a sorely needed right-handed bat. The Dodgers should improve their Lin W-L% from last year’s 0.558 and win 93+ games in 2017. Right behind the Dodgers will be the San Francisco Giants who arguably have the best lefty-right rotation duo in Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. The signing of Mark Melancon improves their bullpen. Yes, the Giants will battle the Cardinals for the second Wild Card.

To summarize the three divisional winners in the NL will be the Mets, Cubs, and Dodgers. A fight exists between the Giants, Cardinals, and Nationals for the two Wild Cards. My choice for the two Wild Card teams are the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2017 we will see a World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. Last year the Cubs broke their 108-year drought and in 2017 will extend their WS winning streak to two. Yes, the Cubs will repeat as World Champions.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The table below shows for each of the AL teams their actual 2016 winning percentages (W-L%) along with their expected winning percentages (Lin W-L%), calculated using my linear formula Lin W-L% =.000579*(RS – RA) +.50, RS is runs scored and RA is runs allowed.

2017ALPredictions
 

My choice to win the AL East is the Boston Red Sox. Yes, the Red Sox lost David Ortiz and his 38-home run 2016 season. But, kudos to the Red Sox management for acquiring Chris Sale. Sale will join defending American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and David Price (if healthy) to give Boston a front-of-the-rotation combination that potentially could be the best in the Major Leagues. Sale hasn't won his own Cy Young Award, but he has finished in the top six in AL balloting each of the past five years. Two other notable moves included the signing of free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland to upgrade the infield defense and trading for Tyler Thornburg, who will serve as a setup man for Craig Kimbrel. Offensively, no one expects Moreland to replace Ortiz. However, Moreland taking over first base will allow the Red Sox to shift Hanley Ramirez into the DH role and that improved overall defense does help close the value gap between Moreland and Ortiz. Sorting out the No. 4 and 5 starter spots between Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez is a problem every team would love to have. I believe the Red Sox are the most improved team in the AL and will improve on their 2016 AL best Lin W-L% of 0.606 increasing their win total to over 95 wins.

My choice for the AL Central is the Cleveland Indians. The starting pitching should be improved over last year with the return of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar to full-time duty fortifying a rotation fronted by Corey Kluber. Adding Andrew Miller as their closer to go along with Cody Allen will improve an already excellent bullpen. The signing of Edwin Encarnacion, Austin Jackson, and Chris Colabello will create more runs for the offense. With strong starters and an improved bullpen and offense, the Indians should increase their Lin W-L% to about 0.585 which would put their win total at 95 and make them a runaway winner of the Central Division.

In my opinion the AL East and AL Central have clear cut winners in the Red Sox and Indians. However, the AL West is not so clear cut. In 2016, The Texas Rangers won the division with a W-L% of 0.586. However, their Lin W-L% was only 0.505. The reason for this discrepancy is they won 36 of 47 1-run games. This will not happen again in 2017. So, I have eliminated Texas as a winner. This leaves me with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros as my two choices. Both these teams have made notable additions. For Seattle, Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson will give them a great one-two punch at the top of the lineup setting the table for a trio of 30-homer sluggers Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager. For Houston, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick will join an offense that already featured Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer, giving Houston an offense that potentially stacks up to any in baseball. Seattle should improve their Lin W-L% to about 0.550 and Houston should improve their Lin W-L% from 0.515 to 0.535. Whichever pitching staff does better will determine the winner. My choice is Seattle based on my belief that King Felix Hernandez, who turns 31 in April, after a shaky 2016 will return to his throne in 2017.

To summarize, my 3 divisional winners are Boston, Cleveland and Seattle and my two Wild Card teams are Houston and Toronto. Finally, the team that will represent the AL in the 2017 WS is the Boston Red Sox. 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This is the first blog of a three blog series. This blog will give the reasons I use for making my MLB predictions for a new year. The second and third blogs will give my actual predictions for the three division winners and two wild card teams in each league for the 2017 season.

To recap the 2016 season these were the final standings.

2016 Results

The three division winners in the AL were BOS, CLE, and TEX. The two wild card winners were TOR and BAL. The three division winners in the NL were WSN, CHC, and LAD. The two wild cards were NYM and SFG.

My Linear Formula for the 2016 season was W% = .000579*(Runs Scored – Runs Allowed) + .50 where W% was a team’s expected winning percentage based on their (runs scored – runs allowed). Using the expected winning percentage from my formula the following would have been the final standings for 2016.

2016 Linear Formula Results
 

From my formula the three division winners in the AL would have been BOS, CLE, and SEA. The two wild card winners would have been TOR and BAL. The three division winners for the NL would have been WSN, CHC, and LAD. The two NL wild card winners would have been SFG and STL.

The only difference in the five playoff teams, comparing the actual playoff teams to my expected playoff teams from my formula, was for the AL TEX made it and SEA did not and for the NL the NYM were in and STL was out.

The reason for giving the above data is to justify why I use my formula to help me make my predictions for next year’s playoff teams based on how the runs scored and runs allowed for each team will change from the previous year. These changes in runs scored and runs allowed are estimated by looking at the new players added and the old players deleted from each team. From the addition and subtraction of players for each team I estimate a new runs scored and runs allowed for each team. Then using my Linear Formula, I arrive at a team’s estimated winning percentage for the new season.

My next two blogs will give my predictions for the two leagues for the 2017 season.

By the way using my method last year I predicted the CHC would defeat TOR in the World Series. Of course, even though TOR made the playoffs it was CLE that represented the AL in the World Series. 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Two Major League Baseball batting records were in play on Saturday, August 27th. As a side note this was the date 49 years ago that I married my lovely wife, Tara. Since I do not know the record for the longest marriage, I will return to something I do know about: baseball records. The two players connected with these records are the Yankee rookie catcher Gary Sanchez and the Red Sox veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Wouldn’t you know it the 2 players come from the 2 teams that have always been bitter rivals. Pedroia entered Saturday’s games with 11 consecutive hits in 11 at-bats while Sanchez entered Saturday with 10 home runs in 22 games this season.

Pedroia started his hitting streak on Thursday when in his last three at-bats against the Rays he had 3 hits. He followed that performance on Friday against KC with a 4-for-4 game and a walk. Going into Saturday’s game against KC he had a steak of seven straight hits in seven at-bats and a streak of eight times reaching base successfully in eight plate appearances. In his first four plate appearances on Saturday he got four more hits which extended his hitting streak to 11 hits in 11 at-bats and his on-base streak to 12 in 12 plate appearances. However, both streaks ended when he bounced into a double play in his last at-bat on Saturday. The last player to have 11 consecutive hits in 11 at-bats was the Yankee Bernie Williams who accomplished this streak in 2012. The Major League record for most consecutive at–bats with a hit is 12 and is shared by Johnny King (1902 Cubs), Pinky Higgins (1938 Red Sox) and Walt Dropo (1952 Tigers). The modern era Major League record for most consecutive times reaching base successfully is 16 held by a Red Sox player you might have heard of named Ted Williams in 1957. The breakdown of his 16 successes include 2 singles, 4 home runs, 9 walks and 1 HBP. The all-time record is 17 held by Frank Ward in 1893.

In Chapter 16 of my book “Sandlot Stats: Learning Baseball with Statistics,” I presented two mathematical formulas, one developed by Michael Freiman and the other developed by me, which use any player’s batting statistics to assign a probability of that player duplicating any batting streak. The mathematics used comes from the area of mathematics called probability. If interested, please read my Chapter 16 to see what these two formulas look like and the logic used to develop them.

Using my formula, the probability of Pedroia having 11 hits in 11 at-bats was .0012 (this equates to 12 times in 10,000 seasons); his probability of having 12 hits in 12 at-bats was .0004 (this equates to 4 times in 10,000 seasons. The probability of Pedroia reaching base 12 times in 12 plate appearances was .0033 (this equates to 33 times in 10,000 seasons); the probability of Pedroia reaching base 16 times in 16 plate appearances was .0001 (this equates to 1 time in 10,000 seasons).

How does this compare to the actual record-holders? Walt Dropo’s probability of setting his record of 12 consecutive hits in 12 at-bats was .0001 (this equates to 1 time in 10,000 seasons); while Pinky Higgins’s probability of 12 hits in 12 at-bats was .0002 (this equates to 2 in 10,000 seasons). Ted Williams’ probability of his record of reaching base 16 consecutive times was .0083 (this equates to 83 times in 10,000 seasons). The very small probabilities associated with all the record holders achieving their records shows that chance and luck is a very big factor in attaining these records. The year Walt Dropo set his record his batting average was a very mediocre .279.

As for Gary Sanchez, with his home run Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles, he became the fastest player to reach 11 career home runs, doing so in just 23 games. My next blog will discuss all the other batting records approached by Sanchez in his rookie year.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The last Yankee dynasty which began in 1996 was triggered by the young players’ rookie Derek Jeter, second-year pitcher Andy Pettitte and second-year pitcher Mariano Rivera. Soon afterwards Jorge Posada joined the other three and the four became known as the “Core Four.” Beginning in 1996 and ending in 2007 the Yankees made the playoffs every year and were 4-time World Series Champions.

What a weekend August 12-14 was in Yankee-Land. On August 12 the Yankees celebrated A-Rod’s last Yankee game, on August 13 the Yankees celebrated the 20th anniversary of their 1996 World Series Championship team and on August 14 the Yankees honored Mariano Rivera by adding his plaque to Monument Park.

With A-Rod unconditionally released on Friday, the Yankees on Saturday brought up from their Triple A farm team Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge. Both players in their first at bats on Saturday powered back-to-back home runs. The feat of two players hitting back to back home runs in their first at bats in the majors had never been done before in the history of baseball. Austin’s home run was to right field and just cleared the 314-foot sign, whereas; Judge’s home run traveled 457 feet and tied for the fourth longest home run ever hit at Yankee Stadium. In that same game home runs were also hit by Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. Manager Girardi has stated Aaron Judge will be their permanent right fielder and it is clear that Gary Sanchez is their catcher of the future. All of the above mentioned players are under the age of 27 or as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling put it, the “Baby Bombers” have arrived.

It is fitting that after celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1996 World Series Championship team, which also marked the first year of the last Yankee dynasty, we can talk about the next Yankee dynasty.  Clearly the strategy of GM Cashman is working better than I expected and probably even better than Cashman expected. The Yankees as of this writing are still in the hunt for the second wild card spot. But there are too many teams in front of them and their starting pitching as it stands now is suspect to say the least. Except for the Tanaka and Sabathia the rest of the starters including Pineda, Eovaldi and Severino have been woeful. However, the bright side for the next couple of years will be watching these young players develop into solid major leaguers triggering the next Yankee dynasty. 

Why do I call this the early stage for the next Yankee dynasty? Over the next two years the Yankees will be rid of many costly salaries. After the 2018 season, with Beltran’s $15 million, Teixeira’s $22.5 million, Sabathia’s $25 million, A-Rod’s $21 million and other bad contracts gone, the Yankees will have globs of money to throw at almost any great player they want. What about signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or Jose Fernandez, a free agent in 2019? Cashman’s strategy of unloading Chapman, Miller and Beltran to receive back 12 very good prospects has rebuilt the Yankee farm system into one of the best in baseball. These good prospects can be used as trade bait to bring back to the Yankees top starting pitchers. I predict the new Yankee dynasty will start at the beginning of the 2018 season. The Yankees will be very competitive in 2017 and possibly can be a second wild card team. This will depend on the Yankees fortifying their pitching staff in the off season. Remember, the Yankees could resign Beltran and Chapman for the 2017 season. The addition of 29-year old Adam Warren this year has already helped the pitching staff.

It would be hard to predict now which of the young Yankees will be the “Baby Bombers” that trigger the new Yankee dynasty. But for the next few years Yankee fans can really enjoy watching the new Yankee dynasty taking shape


 


 
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