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Standings Stats
Posted: 24 June 2006 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]

I was looking at MLB.com’s Regular Season Standings a few minutes ago while I had my coffee and I thought how unarticulate wins losses, Pythagorian Winning Percentage and the like were. I came to focus in particular on one stat which I felt was the greatest dissapointment where the most should have been expected. Elimination Number. Really, this is what fans would look to in the morning paper in a Bill James Utopia, but instead it is as incapable of expression as its 18th century siblings and expected winning percentage, which good teams seem to always outperform, hinting to some sinister clutchness factor lurking beneath its pristine greek name. While taking my shower, from which I am now shivering seeing as the weather here in massachusetts leaves something to be desired, I thought how it would be really something if elimination number actually told you something about the status of teams like the Royals, the Braves, the Devil Rays and such, who we are told are all at least 60 odd games from “elimination”. Honestly, who will be watching the Royals 60 games from now? Contention is what should be addressed. Something to back up the ESPN analyst whinings about the Braves fallen dynasty. I thought of a simple metric, though I’m not very sure that it is kosher, that would at least simulate what would be desired in a “Contention Number” stat.

CONTENTION NUMBER V.-1 6/24/06

((((teamw-teaml)-(divisionleaderw-divisionleaderl))+gamesremaining)*team winning percentage)

A negative number indicates out of contention by x games
A postive number indicates in contention by x games


12 contention number- kansas city
28 contention number- tampa bay
25 contention number- atlanta

As of june 24, 2006

For example, pittsburghs contention number is found thusly,

((((26-49)-(42-30))+91)*.347)=19.432, which can be rounded to 19

In 19 games at the present pace, pittsburgh will be virtually out of contention===

I am obviously an amateur and this stat may be more of the flying machines of the 1800s compared to the Wright Plane in comparison to a real stat, but it definately looks the part to my eyes and displays what sort of metric one would want in a standings stat to replace elimination number.

I would really be intrested in engaging some discussion of standings stats, their downfalls and their possible remedies.

Posted: 27 June 2006 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Interesting take. (One nit-picky thing—what about ties?)

I’m afraid that I’m unqualified to answer or discuss your questions, but I can offer a question that may help: how easily could your contention cutoff be foiled by a team’s good/returning-from-bad luck, or maybe returning a star from injury (D. Lee and the Cubs), etc.?

For example, after August 11, 1951, the NY Giants were 59-51, far behind the Brooklyn Dodgers (who were 70-36-1 at that point). For the Giants, this would be a Contention Number of 9 with 43 games still to play. So, in theory, if things kept going the way they were, the Giants would have been out of contention in 9 games. Interestingly enough, out of those 43 games, the Giants only lost 8 more. What if they all came right then, after August 11? I mean,  that’s incredibly unfair to your system, but what if instead of turning to success, they waited 8 or 9 more games before they sparked? They would have been eliminated from the pennant race, and then won it.

But the Giants didn’t hold off winning for 8 or 9 more games, but rather won 16 games in a row, beginning what would be the most exciting and improbable pennant race of all time (capped with “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”)

Your system seems to hold up even in this very extreme case of sudden and immediate and pace-changing success, but I suppose it’s always possible that a team breaks your Contention Number.

Perhaps there could be a correlating and opposite Virtual Clinch Number for the division leader?

Posted: 12 July 2006 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Garth Sears - 27 June 2006 09:35 PM

Interesting take. (One nit-picky thing—what about ties?)

I’m afraid that I’m unqualified to answer or discuss your questions, but I can offer a question that may help: how easily could your contention cutoff be foiled by a team’s good/returning-from-bad luck, or maybe returning a star from injury (D. Lee and the Cubs), etc.?

For example, after August 11, 1951, the NY Giants were 59-51, far behind the Brooklyn Dodgers (who were 70-36-1 at that point). For the Giants, this would be a Contention Number of 9 with 43 games still to play. So, in theory, if things kept going the way they were, the Giants would have been out of contention in 9 games. Interestingly enough, out of those 43 games, the Giants only lost 8 more. What if they all came right then, after August 11? I mean,  that’s incredibly unfair to your system, but what if instead of turning to success, they waited 8 or 9 more games before they sparked? They would have been eliminated from the pennant race, and then won it.

But the Giants didn’t hold off winning for 8 or 9 more games, but rather won 16 games in a row, beginning what would be the most exciting and improbable pennant race of all time (capped with “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”)

Your system seems to hold up even in this very extreme case of sudden and immediate and pace-changing success, but I suppose it’s always possible that a team breaks your Contention Number.

Perhaps there could be a correlating and opposite Virtual Clinch Number for the division leader?


Unlike Expected Winning Percentage and much like Elimination Number and Games Back, A Contention Number would only measure the relations of wins and losses of one team to another- so that any change in the winning percentages would be mirrored across the Contention Number by the same degree.

So for example: Contention Number is suddenly better for teams that suddenly do better compared to the divison leader—in a parellel type of change.

Posted: 14 July 2006 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]

Contention Numbers As of July 14th, Using the Wild Card Leader in Each Respective League as Target of Contention,
[  ((((TEAMW-TEAML)-(WILDCARDLEADERW-WILDCARDLEADERL))+GAMESREMAINING)*TEAM WINNING PERCENTAGE) ]

team    w    l    wcw    wcl g rem    win%  CON#
nyy    50    36    57    31    76    0.581    37
tor    49    39    57    31    74    0.557    32
bal    41    50    57    31    71    0.451    16
tam    39    50    57    31    73    0.438    16
min    47    40    57    31    75    0.540    30
cle    41    47    57    31    74    0.466    20
kan    31    57    57    31    74    0.352    8
laa    43    45    57    31    74    0.489    22
sea    43    46    57    31    73    0.483    21

phi    40    47    46    43    75    0.460    30
atl    40    49    46    43    73    0.449    27
flo    38    49    46    43    75    0.437    27
was    38    52    46    43    72    0.422    23
cin    46    44    46    43    72    0.511    36
hou    44    46    46    43    72    0.489    33
mil    44    46    46    43    72    0.489    33
chi    34    54    46    43    74    0.386    20
pit    30    60    46    43    72    0.333    13
snf    45    44    46    43    73    0.506    36
col    44    44    46    43    74    0.500    36
ari    43    45    46    43    74    0.489    34 

So, in this measurement, no teams are yet out of contention, though at the current pace Pittsburgh and Kansas City will be soon, (in 13 games and in 8 games respectively). If the winning percentage of a team improves relative to the wild card leader, their contention number will rise, whether a team is out of contention (a negative number) or in contention (a positive number), so that a team out of contention can come back into contention. Though winning percentages don’t change, contention number drops with every less game there is remaining in the season, as contention number measures “games until out of contention at the present pace.” It considers the difference in record, the amount of games in which to change it without construing a steak-filled long string of bad team wins versus good team losses as a possiblity avalible as elimination number does for most of the season, inevitably, by directly reducing this amount given the direness of present performance.

Posted: 12 August 2006 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I was interested in seeing how this measure held up a month later.  There are about 50 games remaining and the Wild Card races are heating up.

TEAM    W    L    WCW    WCL G REM    WIN%  CON#
DET    76    39    68    46    47    0.661    41
NYY    67    45    68    46    50    0.598    30
CWS    68    46    68    46    48    0.596    29
MIN    67    48    68    46    47    0.583    26
BOS    66    48    68    46    48    0.579    25
OAK    63    52    68    46    47    0.548    20
TOR    62    54    68    46    46    0.534    17
LAA    60    56    68    46    46    0.517    14
TEX    59    58    68    46    45    0.504    12
SEA    56    59    68    46    47    0.487    11
CLE    50    64    68    46    48    0.439    05
BAL    51    65    68    46    46    0.440    04
TB     47    69    68    46    46    0.405    01
KC     41    74    68    46    47    0.357    
-3

NYM    69    45    59    57    48    0.460    42
STL    62    53    59    57    47    0.449    29
LAD    60    56    59    57    46    0.437    25
CIN    59    57    59    57    46    0.422    23
ARI    58    57    59    57    47    0.511    23
SD     58    57    59    57    47    0.489    23
HOU    57    58    59    57    47    0.489    22
PHI    56    58    59    57    48    0.386    22
COL    56    59    59    57    47    0.333    20
FLA    54    61    59    57    47    0.506    18
MIL    54    61    59    57    47    0.500    18
SF     54    61    59    57    47    0.489    18
ATL    53    61    59    57    48    0.333    18
WAS    51    64    59    57    47    0.506    14
CHI    48    67    59    57    47    0.500    11
PIT    43    73    59    57    46    0.489    05 

Only the Royals are out of contention by this measure.  The Pirates are close to being out of contention . . . by this measure.  By all reason, the Pirates are out of contention.  I gather it is just the mediocracy of the NL that the Pirates still “have a chance”.

But it is also interesting that a month ago the measure predicted the Pirates would be out of contention in eight games.  About 25 games later, the measure still says the Pirates have five more games until they are out of the race.

So, by going 14-13 in the last month, the Pirates have kept themselves in contention.

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