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I didn't include the possibility of a tie. Here are the odds, by this quick-and-dirty method, of either beating or tying the Yankees.

Yankees and Red Sox evenly matched
Before the Series: 14.4% chance of beating or tying Yankees
After Sweep, good kind: 22.0%
After Sweep, bad kind: 8.4%
After 2-1 series: 16.7%
After 1-2 series: 12.2%

Yankees better by several games
Before the Series: 8.3%
After Sweep, good kind: 14.3%
After Sweep, bad kind: 4.2%
After 2-1 series: 10.0%
After 1-2 series: 6.7%

2. OlePerfesser
Posted: May 07, 2010 at 02:40 PM (#3525440)

Very insightful approach and interesting analysis, MCoA.

Of course, it is vulnerable to the usual criticism non-statheads make about statanalysis: it ignores the intangibles. In this case, the chief intangible is that if we lose the series (or, shudder, get swept) I and people like me will be profoundly unhappier and grumpier, and we will make life miserable for all those around us. I'm still not sure I have recovered emotionally from a certain series in 1978. So, damn right this matters!

3. Cowboy Popup
Posted: May 07, 2010 at 02:48 PM (#3525448)

Hughes v. Beckett, doesn't get any better than that. I can't believe I won't be able to watch this game, RCN is awful. At least I get the two over the weekend. With Posada a question mark, Mo coming off a minor injury, and the middle of the bullpen looking like crap for the moment (looks like I am going to lose that Robertson bet), one Yankee win this series would be just fine. It'd be great if the middle of the lineup decided to wake up this weekend.

The pitching matchups for the series are kind of interesting. The first two games are sort of mirror images with each team throwing an established Ace (let's not get into the "how good Beckett is" thing for now) against the other team's "perennial prospect who seems to finally be getting It" then Sunday is just a really good matchup between good pitchers who are pitching well.

6. PJ Martinez
Posted: May 07, 2010 at 03:27 PM (#3525494)

I think 1 of 3 would make the Yankees very happy.

Really? What professional baseball player is "very happy" to take 1 of 3 in a series?

As a fan, sure, 1 of 3 is all the Yankees need at this point. But I bet the Yankees would be "happy" with 2 of 3 and "very happy" with a sweep and "disappointed, but not exactly brokenhearted" to win just 1 of 3.

If the Sox sweep, I'll begin to entertain the possibility that maybe they could actually catch the Yankees at some point. If not, I won't.

I'm with PJ. I'm all for reducing expectations, but the only time to be happy with 1/3 is up by three games with three to play.

Good post, Matt.

8. Joel W
Posted: May 07, 2010 at 03:58 PM (#3525529)

Apparently Tampa Bay has decided that losing is simply beneath them. They are at 21-7 and are underplaying their pythag. Then I looked at the adjusted standings on BP, and wOBA on Fangraphs and: how the hell have the Rays scored so many runs?

As to this series, I'm only expecting 1 of 3, though I am somewhat optimistic about the team right now: hitting the crap out of the ball lately, and our top four starters are looking like themselves. If those two things hold then the next 133 games should be a lot better than the first 29.

9. Nasty Nate
Posted: May 07, 2010 at 04:01 PM (#3525534)

LASER SHOW!

10. Cowboy Popup
Posted: May 07, 2010 at 04:01 PM (#3525535)

I'm with PJ. I'm all for reducing expectations, but the only time to be happy with 1/3 is up by three games with three to play.

Really? I mean, feel free to wish for the sky, but in Fenway where the Sox play .700 baseball most recent years, missing Posada, with the middle of the order scuffling, and all the bullpen issues, going against Beckett, Lester and Buchholz, one out of three is pretty darn good. It'd be nice to get two and it'd be great to sweep, but it isn't likely to happen. I don't see why we should condition our happiness on extremely unlikely events. Seems like a good way to set yourself up to be miserable. I won't stop rooting for them if they win tonight, but I'm not gonna be disappointed/depressed/suicidal if they only grab one game here.

I had a typo in my formula. I don't really like the new numbers I'm getting, in some ways, but the underlying code is definitely right. The new numbers are much more congenial to the Sox, which has to be right - there's no way, if the Red Sox sweep the series and are mostly evenly matched with hte Sox, we're barely 20% to beat the Yankees, despite being only two games out, theoretically.

Yankees and Red Sox evenly matched
Before Series: 24.9% chance of beating or tying Yankees
After Sweep, good kind: 37.9%
After Sweep, bad kind: 11.8%
After 2-1 Series: 24.7%
After 1-2 Series: 17.5%

Yankees several games better than Yankees
Before Series: 13.7%
After Sweep, good kind: 23.6%
After Sweep, bad kind: 5.5%
After 2-1 Series: 13.7%
After 1-2 Series: 8.9%

I feel like something's wrong in that the odds of beating or tying the Yankees are about equal before the series and in the event of a 2-1 series. And some of the odds for the Red Sox look a bit too good. So I dunno.

I should add, in response to OlePerfesser, that certainly these numbers are based on various assumptions - independence of baseball events, etc - that are not actually the case in real life. I see them as a (possibly incorrectly calculated) baseline, not any sort of definitive finding as to the actual odds of real events happening.

I feel like something's wrong in that the odds of beating or tying the Yankees are about equal before the series and in the event of a 2-1 series.

I would expect that to be the case. A one game swing in the standings between games 30-32 (or 28-30 for New York) wouldn't be something I would expect to have a significant impact. It makes sense (a bit anyway) that the odds for the Sox would be hurt by a 1-2 series more than they would be helped by a 2-1 series. In either case they are still a decent amount back and they have three fewer games to make up the ground.

## Reader Comments and Retorts

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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. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 07, 2010 at 02:37 PM (#3525436)Yankees and Red Sox evenly matchedBefore the Series: 14.4% chance of beating or tying Yankees

After Sweep, good kind: 22.0%

After Sweep, bad kind: 8.4%

After 2-1 series: 16.7%

After 1-2 series: 12.2%

Yankees better by several gamesBefore the Series: 8.3%

After Sweep, good kind: 14.3%

After Sweep, bad kind: 4.2%

After 2-1 series: 10.0%

After 1-2 series: 6.7%

Of course, it is vulnerable to the usual criticism non-statheads make about statanalysis: it ignores the intangibles. In this case, the chief intangible is that if we lose the series (or, shudder, get swept) I and people like me will be profoundly unhappier and grumpier, and we will make life miserable for all those around us. I'm still not sure I have recovered emotionally from a certain series in 1978. So, damn right this matters!

I think 1 of 3 would make the Yankees very happy.

I think 1 of 3 would make the Yankees very happy.Really? What professional baseball player is "very happy" to take 1 of 3 in a series?

As a fan, sure, 1 of 3 is all the Yankees need at this point. But I bet the Yankees would be "happy" with 2 of 3 and "very happy" with a sweep and "disappointed, but not exactly brokenhearted" to win just 1 of 3.

If the Sox sweep, I'll begin to entertain the possibility that maybe they could actually catch the Yankees at some point. If not, I won't.

Good post, Matt.

As to this series, I'm only expecting 1 of 3, though I am somewhat optimistic about the team right now: hitting the crap out of the ball lately, and our top four starters are looking like themselves. If those two things hold then the next 133 games should be a lot better than the first 29.

I'm with PJ. I'm all for reducing expectations, but the only time to be happy with 1/3 is up by three games with three to play.Really? I mean, feel free to wish for the sky, but in Fenway where the Sox play .700 baseball most recent years, missing Posada, with the middle of the order scuffling, and all the bullpen issues, going against Beckett, Lester and Buchholz, one out of three is pretty darn good. It'd be nice to get two and it'd be great to sweep, but it isn't likely to happen. I don't see why we should condition our happiness on extremely unlikely events. Seems like a good way to set yourself up to be miserable. I won't stop rooting for them if they win tonight, but I'm not gonna be disappointed/depressed/suicidal if they only grab one game here.

how the hell have the Rays scored so many runs?They've got like a .950 OPS with RISP.

Yankees and Red Sox evenly matchedBefore Series: 24.9% chance of beating or tying Yankees

After Sweep, good kind: 37.9%

After Sweep, bad kind: 11.8%

After 2-1 Series: 24.7%

After 1-2 Series: 17.5%

Yankees several games better than YankeesBefore Series: 13.7%

After Sweep, good kind: 23.6%

After Sweep, bad kind: 5.5%

After 2-1 Series: 13.7%

After 1-2 Series: 8.9%

I feel like something's wrong in that the odds of beating or tying the Yankees are about equal before the series and in the event of a 2-1 series. And some of the odds for the Red Sox look a bit too good. So I dunno.

I should add, in response to OlePerfesser, that certainly these numbers are based on various assumptions - independence of baseball events, etc - that are not actually the case in real life. I see them as a (possibly incorrectly calculated) baseline, not any sort of definitive finding as to the actual odds of real events happening.

I would expect that to be the case. A one game swing in the standings between games 30-32 (or 28-30 for New York) wouldn't be something I would expect to have a significant impact. It makes sense (a bit anyway) that the odds for the Sox would be hurt by a 1-2 series more than they would be helped by a 2-1 series. In either case they are still a decent amount back and they have three fewer games to make up the ground.

LASER SHOW!I haven't seen that discussed here. I thought that was hilarious (and I'm a Yankee fan).

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