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Sunday, March 17, 2013

BtBS: A Magic Number to Increase Your Odds of Winning

Joe Lemire from Sports Illustrated wrote a piece a while back detailing this very thing. He calls it baseball’s magic number but I like to look at it as the Rule of 39. [...]

Peterson asked the team’s analytics department to research the correlation of winning percentage with the number of batters faced in a game. That research, he said, found a tipping point between 38 and 39 batters faced.

—snip—

Here’s why: Since 1991 home teams that have faced fewer than 39 opposing batters in a nine-inning game—four full times through the lineup, plus three additional hitters—win roughly three-quarters of the time (74 percent) while teams that have faced 39 or more hitters have won only 31 percent of games.Moreover, in the last 22 seasons home teams that have faced 39 opposing hitters have won almost exactly 50 percent of their games—50.082 percent, to be more precise—making 39 the inflection point of winning or losing.

bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:12 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rick peterson

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   1. jacjacatk Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:39 AM (#4389766)
I'm not sure how's it vaguely surprising that the fewer batters you face in a game the more likely you are to allow fewer runs and the more likely you are to win. The idea that they appear to want to draw from this is that teams could do better with starters pitching fewer innings and relievers pitching more since their performances would then be more likely to result in fewer batters faced. While that's probably true, it seems to assume that pitching resources are decidedly less finite than in real life, and ignores the 25-man roster limit. It might be interesting to see some team try to build a pitching staff out of 25 guys with options left and a AA/AAA affiliate a car drive away, but I suspect that even if it could be done productively it'd just end up with the roster management rules getting changed.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4389770)
AL 2012 average batters per game = 38.2
NL 2012 average batters per game = 38.2
   3. McCoy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4389777)


Bloody bastards.
   4. bookbook Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4389817)
Isn't this just a fancy way of saying that OBP is the most important stat?
   5. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4389845)
Kind of interesting. A standard game has 27 outs of course, so this suggests that an average game has 11 PAs that don't end in an out. Which seems ... rather low, actually. That's an OBP of .289, while the actual rate in the NL was .318 last year.
   6. OsunaSakata Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4389859)
Kind of interesting. A standard game has 27 outs of course, so this suggests that an average game has 11 PAs that don't end in an out. Which seems ... rather low, actually. That's an OBP of .289, while the actual rate in the NL was .318 last year.


Some of the outs wouldn't appear in that calculation of OBP because they would have come from double plays, caught stealing, pick-offs and outs on the bases immediately after a hit.
   7. Misirlou's got a job, but it don't pay Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4389862)
Some of the outs wouldn't appear in that calculation of OBP because they would have come from double plays, caught stealing, pick-offs and outs on the bases immediately after a hit.


Plus sacrifice bunts which don't count against OBP

edit. And not only that, but outs on the bases mean another PA ends up on base. Of course, that can also be balanced by reaching on an error.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4389874)
Reading the article, it's another way for someone to put up the goal of having starting pitchers go only three innings(one time through the lineup) This is something I used to like, but over the years I have grown to not like the concept, and to think it wouldn't work.

Of course I think this is another of those causation = correlation messes that people try to interpret as having meaning. Factor in that you can probably get similar results by looking at runs allowed and win percentage and I'm not sure this article really offers much that is new or isn't plainly obvious.

   9. John Northey Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4389888)
Of course, the WBC and spring training both give examples of limiting starting pitchers to a far shorter leash. Are runs up or down in those situations?
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4389892)
Of course, the WBC and spring training both give examples of limiting starting pitchers to a far shorter leash. Are runs up or down in those situations?


Not really comparable though, in spring training they aren't trying to win and often times are looking at just working one or two pitches. And the WBC doesn't really have the same level of competition that MLB has.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4390030)
The big thing y'all missed on 38 PA per game and OBP is that often the home team only makes 24 outs. If for no other reason than that I missed it and probably should have tried to calculate it as PA per 9 innings which is probably closer to 39-40.

In fact I'd wager that teams have outstanding winning percentages in games in which they make fewer than 27 outs while they almost always lose when they give up fewer than 27 outs.

cfb #8 ... I think that was the point of #1 and #2. If you have allowed fewer than 38 PA per game, you have probably allowed fewer runs than average so of course the win % goes up. It would make no sense at all to use relievers more often to reduce the number of batters faced -- you'd do it to reduce the number of runs scored.

Batters faced per game (or 9 innings) is of course very closely related to WHIP. AL average WHIP*9 + 27 gives 38.77 BF per 9 unadjusted for DP, CS, HBP (I think), etc. It does include SH though.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4390060)
On BF, it would be interesting to see whether (after controlling for pitcher quality) RA goes up after 38 batters (or wherever). I don't see any particular reason for that to be the case -- it's one of the reasons to have relievers -- but at least then it might serve as a magic number of some sort.

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