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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Panas: Walk-off Wins and Momentum

Well…there sorta goes McCarver’s theory about Pedroia’s catch changing future geomagnetic jerk patterns.

After Sunday night’s improbable Red Sox comeback, many Red Sox and Tigers fans claimed that the momentum was now on the Red Sox side.  It’s certainly true that it’s better for the Red Sox to be tied 1-1 in the series than down 2-0, but does the walk-off win make them more likely to win game three on Tuesday?

It is widely believed that a walk-off win or sudden victory creates a boost for a team that carries over to the next game more often than not. I wanted to see if this was true, so I went to the retrosheet database and found all walk-off wins between 1995 and 2012. There were 3,769 of these sudden victories during the period which comes out to about seven per team for a season. My goal was to see if walk off winners had a tendency win the next game after their walk offs.

Twenty-eight walk offs fell out of the sample because they occurred in the final game of the season and thus were not followed by another regular season game. That gave me 3,741 games with which to work. I discovered that teams won 52.6% of the games immediately following walk off wins. That’s more than 50% so at first glance it seems that there is a bit of a tendency for teams to win games following walk offs.

Before jumping to conclusions though, there are a couple of important factors to consider. First, walk off wins only happen at home so chances are (85% of the time to be exact) that the next game would also be at home. Since teams win 53.9% of their home games, you would expect them to have a good winning percentage in games after walk offs even without a carryover effect. Also, teams with good winning percentages tend to have more walk off wins. For both of these reasons, one would expect a win the next game after a walk off more than 50% of the time even if walk-off wins had no influence on future games.

...Based on these analyses, the Tigers heart-breaking loss should not affect their performance in game three any more than any other result. Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s theory is that “Momentum is only as good as the next game’s starting pitcher”.  If that’s the case, then the Tigers should be in a favorable position with red hot Justin Verlander facing Red Sox right hander John Lackey on Tuesday.

Repoz Posted: October 15, 2013 at 05:29 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, red sox, sabermetrics, tigers

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. fra paolo Posted: October 15, 2013 at 09:20 AM (#4572746)
Well, I hope so. Go Tigers!

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