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Parity Newsbeat

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Mathematical Improbability of Parity

Per no less an authority than MLB.com, this is the first time in the last 66 years that no team started 3-0 in their first three games. In that contrived sense, then, this is the most parity since 1954. Given that it was far easier to have no team start 3-0 then (there were only 16 teams), you would even be justified in saying that this was the most balanced start of all time.

That sounds, without putting too much thought into it, very impressive. 1954! Man hadn’t landed on the moon. The LOOGY hadn’t been invented, or the personal computer. It was a very different time.

As fun as it would be to leave it at “Wow, that was crazy,” I thought I’d spoil the fun with a little math. First things first — what if we think every team is evenly matched? Let’s leave home field advantage out for now — we’re just approximating anyway, and that makes the math cleaner. The math for a single series is easy; if each game is a coin flip, all we need to do is find the odds of getting either three heads or three tails in a row.

That works out to 0.5*0.5*0.5, or 0.125, for each outcome. In other words, any given three-game series between evenly matched teams ends in a sweep 25% of the time; with each team sweeping the other 12.5% of the time. From there it’s a snap to work out the odds of it happening to the whole league.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 29, 2020 at 03:51 PM | 2 comment(s)
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