Building a Simpler Pitcher WAR Metric – Part 2

Thanks again to Dr. Doom for contributing this series on Pitcher WAR measurement. If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here. In Part 2, Dr. Doom takes a closer look at ERA+. More after the jump.

Greetings again, my fellow stat-heads! In my last post, we discussed the Pythagorean Record (which states that winning percentage is roughly equal to the square of runs scored divided by the sum of the squares of runs scored and runs allowed) and the simple concept I called “decision proportion” (which states that total decisions are roughly equal to total innings pitched divided by nine).

In this post, we’re going to be talking about ERA+, found on baseball-reference.com. This metric is, of course, one of the greatest things Baseball-Reference has ever done. As I recall (those of you still around from the olden days can correct me if I’m wrong), this was, along with OPS+, the first new metric to debut on the site, and it generated a lot of discussion on the old B-R blog. And, with good reason – it completely changed how we talked about players. This was before the days of WAR, and these new stats were a revelation – summarizing OPS or ERA in a number that was neither park-dependent nor era-dependent. It was love at first sight.

I’m going to ignore OPS+ here, because while it is helpful to talk about the offensive equivalent, it has a wrinkle that a lot of people don’t like, so I’d rather not discuss that here (but, If you want to get into it in the comments, please do). For now, let’s stick to pitching, since we’re talking about building a pitcher WAR framework.

The Basics

ERA+ is simply formulated by taking the league ERA and dividing it by pitcher ERA. Why league over pitcher? Because then a higher number is better, and that makes ERA+ numbers look more like OPS+ numbers (we will talk about this more later; for now, let’s just go with it). It’s League ERA over Pitcher ERA (I’m just going to go ahead and assume you don’t need an ERA explained to you if you’ve found your way to this site), then multiply by 100 to make it look pretty.

For example, Chad Kuhl of the Pirates last year had a 4.35 ERA, while the NL as a whole had a 4.34 ERA. Taking league over pitcher, we get 4.34/4.35, or .9977; multiply by 100 (99.77), round to the nearest whole number, and you get 100. Chad Kuhl was average at preventing runs last year. That’s not a surprise to anyone who watches a lot of baseball, I don’t think.

But here’s the thing: not all players are as easy to figure as Chad Kuhl. This is because Kuhl played in a relatively neutral park. What do we do about, for example, Clayton Kershaw? His ERA was 2.31 last year… but he got to play his home games in Dodger Stadium. Using the same basic calculation that we did for Kuhl, we would have Kershaw with a 188 ERA+; however, Baseball-Reference shows him with a 179. What gives?

Well, Baseball-Reference numbers take into account the fact that ballpark matters. We could do the whole calculation here, but I’m just going to ask you to trust the Baseball-Reference numbers, rather than having us figure this out for every pitcher. So, from now on, instead of calculating ERA+ ourselves, we’ll just use the B-R numbers that are so easily accessible.

The Criticisms

There have been some critiques of ERA+ over the years, and I want to discuss them here, so we all know what we’re getting into. What we’re talking about can be dissected at a pretty granular level (as WAR often has been), so I want all the cards out on the table. In other words, I think the quirks are important to acknowledge, because we’re going to be building a WAR metric off of this, so I think we can take some time to learn where our weaknesses or vulnerabilities may lie.

First, there’s the idea that this uses league/pitcher, rather than pitcher/league. I mean, it was done for simplicity’s sake, but the problem is that, at the extremes, it really doesn’t scale well. To use a famous example, take Rollie Fingers‘ Cy Young and MVP season of 1981. If we took pitcher ERA over League ERA, we would see an “ERA-” of 30. That is, Rollie Fingers allowed 30% as many runs as an average pitcher. That’s phenomenal. But with League/Pitcher, we see an ERA+ of 333! (not a typo). That just looks like too big of a number. It leads to comparisons like, “Rollie Fingers was about twice as good as Steve Carlton in 1972, since Lefty “only” had a 182 ERA+.” Well, that’s just silly. A lot of people think it looks better to see it where Fingers has a 30 and Carlton has a 55. The scaling just looks better. Plus, you can end up with a denominator of zero for a pitcher if he allows zero runs (something that really messes up ERA+). For what it’s worth, Fangraphs uses ERA-, and those numbers are readily available if you don’t want to make the conversion yourself (which you can do by dividing 10,000 by either ERA+ or ERA- to get the inverse).

Second, Baseball-Reference has, pretty much forever, used 3-year park adjustments. That is, the park factor used for a season is NOT how that park performed that year, but also includes how that park performed in the year prior and the year following. This is supposed to help eliminate the problem of, for example, really wonky weather in one season, something which might, for that season, exaggerate or minimize a park’s normal effects. Instead, using a three-year factor, there’s a lot more stability in the park effect numbers. True, but also, it means you’re comparing things to a baseline that isn’t authentic; the weather that one year might have been really different – extra windy, or hot and dry, and that might actually have made it a more difficult pitcher year. Honestly, though, most of the time, this doesn’t make that big of a difference. Off-hand, I can’t think of any examples in which this criticism really fundamentally changes anyone’s final numbers (but, if you know one, please tell us in your comments). Back when these things were new, we discussed stuff like this a LOT more often… but that was over a decade ago, so I can’t remember it all anymore. Brand-new stadiums, without three years of data, always messed stuff up… but that gets corrected once a stadium is three years old, so it’s not an issue with “historical” analysis like this.

Third, a valid criticism of ERA+ is that it uses ERA rather than RA. That means you’re always reverting to the question of which runs are “earned“, which, in baseball, means that human judgment starts to enter the equation. In contrast, Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs (under “RA9”), in their WAR calculations, use Runs Allowed, not Earned Runs. Subtle distinction, but something worth talking about, especially when a pitcher allows an unusually high number of unearned runs and thus does comparatively better by ERA+ than he would by a metric based on RA. Again, most of the time, this doesn’t matter too much, but there are small differences depending on the pitcher. Nolan Ryan, for example, gave up about 10 unearned runs per year, whereas Tom Seaver allowed about 7½, and Curt Schilling only 4. Steve Carlton gave up 11 and Gaylord Perry nearly 13; the point is, it has an effect.

Fourth, and finally, we have defense. Obviously, ERAs are dependent upon the defense playing behind you. I know I’d rather have Andrelton Simmons manning shortstop than Yuniesky Betancourt. Wouldn’t you? Obviously, defense has an impact. There’s no way for ERA+ to take that into account, because there’s no way for ERA to take that into account. This is why Fangraphs uses FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) numbers. They take only home runs, walks, and strikeouts into account. The FIP discussion is for another day (or today, if you want to hash it out in the comments below), but for now, just know that what we do in our final part of the series can be done with FIP-, if an enterprising person who favors Fangraphs’ model is interested in making those calculations.

Conclusions

ERA+ does the job, really, in spite of its flaws. It certainly gives us a number we can use for the purposes of these calculations. In Part 3, we’ll be taking the information we’ve discussed in these first two parts and applying it to build a WAR metric, by which I mean a number we can use to indicate the value of a pitcher’s contribution. Hopefully, even if you’ve been a little bit bored through these first two parts of the series, you’ll be able to enjoy the third part!

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no statistician but
Guest
Unearned runs, spot checking the more prominent pitchers: 9 to 11 per season on average was pretty standard from the forties on, and the variants usually went higher—12 (Nolan Ryan was 12, not 10), 13—that is, until recently, meaning post- Clemens (9)/ Maddux and R. Johnson (11). Why the drop in the New Millennium to Pedro 6; Verlander 7; Schilling 4 (as you note, although he is a true outlier); Sale 5, etc.? Three guesses? Three little words? Prior to the forties, Lefty Grove 16; Carl Hubbell 14; Dazzy Vance 15; Pete Alexander 20; Walter Johnson 22; Christy Mathewson 28;… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Several years ago, I did a couple of posts about unearned runs. They may have some relevance to your observations here.
Part 1
Part 2

There is also a spreadsheet where you can pull up estimates of how well individual pitchers did in preventing unearned runs from scoring (data are for 1961 to 2012).

e pluribus munu
Guest

I guess I was on one of my HHS breaks when these posts came out, Doug. They’re terrific.

Doug
Guest
More generally, the decline in unearned runs in the current era has a lot to do with the rise in strikeouts. Fewer balls in play means fewer errors and fewer unearned runs. Counteracting this to some degree is the increase in home runs, turning more ROEs into UERs. Strictly observational, but my sense is official scorers have become more likely to score hits than errors on debatable plays. The guidelines of “normal effort” seem to now dictate that, for example, if a player had to make any sort of effort beyond normal to get to a ball, then he is… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Doug, how much importance would you place on the improvement in equipment (particularly gloves)?

Doug
Guest

Certainly compared to the pre-expansion era, I can see modern gloves resulting in fewer errors. But, don’t really think they would have had much of an effect since then.

no statistician but
Guest
A ramble about ball gloves: When I was very young, around 1951-2, I remember seeing some early TV games and baseball photos, probably in newspapers, that stuck in memory. Part of what stuck was how primitive the gloves were, compared even to when I started playing little league in 1954. The earlier gloves were not only on the small side, but they were almost flat, nearly shapeless, padded-out things with fingers like stuffed sausages, a pathetic small piece of webbing held in place on four corners with strings of rawhide, and maybe or maybe not one strip of rawhide stringing… Read more »
Doug
Guest

When I was growing up in the late ’60s, my dad gave me his old ball glove, very much like the one you described. I said “Thanks Dad, but no thanks”.

Another picture that sticks in my mind, from the ’20s I think, is players shooting the breeze near the dugout (during BP, I suppose), and one of them has his glove stuffed in his pants hip pocket, and I mean the whole glove. They were tiny.

Richard Chester
Guest

Back then it was fairly common for players to stuff their gloves into hip pockets. And it was some time back in the 50s that players could no longer leave their gloves on the field probably because they no longer would lay flat and would pose a hazard. And I remember the most popular gloves used by the general public being Red Rolfe and Warren Hacker endorsed gloves.

e pluribus munu
Guest
The key late change to baseball gloves seems to have been the introduction of the flexible heel in 1959, which allowed more players to look like Willie Mays. (But my recollection is that Mays himself was a basket-catch man — but I’ll alter my memory in deference to nsb’s elegant turn of phrase.) Vic Power was famous for his one-handed style when I was a kid. I had a drawer full of the type of mitts nsb describes from the early ’50s, and I remember using them when my hands were so small they couldn’t reach the finger holes of… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Re Mays and the basket catch: Yeah, he did that too, and for the same reason, I suspect, to let people know how easy it was for him to get to the ball. Showing off wasn’t seen as good form in that era, no high fives, no gratuitous enthusiasm, no pointing to the heavens. A solemn handshake was the rule, not the exception, following an outstanding play. Ballplayers (footballers, too, parenthetically speaking) were cool, not hot, restrained and serious except for something extraordinary. Mantle circled the bases with his head down after a long home run—supposedly didn’t want to embarrass… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Just looked at some stills and video footage of Mays’ greatest catch (at least by reputation). He’s wearing a very substantial mitt, and, interestingly, for all the distance he ran and the fact that he caught the ball with his back to the infield, he made a typical two-handed catch: that is, as nsb describes it, catching with the glove, but the other hand close by. Mays himself said the catch was easy, and in some respects it was, because he made it so. Mays got such a terrific jump on the ball that, despite its distance, he was there… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
nsb, epm, Longing for the good old days? I recall RM Jackson standing in the batter’s box and admiring a roof top home run in the ’71 All Star game at Detroit. At the time, as a young kid, I thought it was rather odd for him to gloat like that. Actually, pretty jive. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end for the “good old days” and the lack of respect for opponents? Nowadays, guys are dancing in the dugout, hugging in lieu of handshakes, pointing to deceased Uncle Fred in the sky, ……and, naturally, the announcers have to… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

epm: I should have said that the Rolfe and Hacker gloves were two of the most popular gloves. I owned a Rolfe glove and quite a number of the guys I played with had those gloves.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Ah. Science. Well, you nevertheless astonished me by naming my glove.

no statistician but
Guest
Doom: In Doug’s first old post the subject of RE24 comes up. It is an after the fact, cumulative assessment of a pitcher’s ability to keep baserunners from scoring, as you know. If we’re looking for pitcher effectiveness, shouldn’t it or the thing it measures. be part of the evaluation? Or is it a different approach altogether? At any rate, what I find interesting, being more into baseball history, is that second on the all time RE24 list is Lefty Grove. Spahn is seventh, Ford tenth, Feller twelfth, Hubbell nineteenth. These are the only pre 1960s careers that appear. In… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
A couple of things: 1. There isn’t enough play-by-play data for pre-1920, so we miss a lot of “big names” that usually dominate such lists. 2. Runs were more abundant in the 90s, thus similar activities are worth more runs. A runs-to-wins conversion would make a little bit of a difference (though not huge). 3. Pitchers get less effective the more times they go through the lineup. These pitchers faced lineups a third time through fat less often, and a fourth time quite rarely. 4. Finally, and this is not to be underrated, these were really, really, really good pitchers… Read more »
mosc
Guest

I like RE24. The context it provides to me is a lot like RBI’s were intended to be. I don’t like to correct it. Opportunities on good teams and bad teams are different and although it’s not the player’s fault, their relative contributions are also of relative value.

I like a triple crown of pitching stats which is ERA+, RAR, and RE24. What was their relative rate? How many runs did they save? And how much situational value did they provide?

CursedClevelander
Guest
So I don’t want to derail this thread too much by discussing something off-topic and, as of about 30 minutes ago, likely immaterial, but I’m going crazy reading stuff from Indians fan sites. Harper to the Indians. It was always likely a longshot. And look, I’m not sure I’d do the trade if it takes McKenzie, Bieber and a couple more lower tier prospects. But many of my fellow Cleveland fans seem to have this insane viewpoint that more “bites at the apple” are prime facie superior to getting a better team this year during an almost guaranteed playoff run.… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Cursed, if you have a black hole and you can fill it with Harper, I’d agree that paying a decent price for him is very attractive. Harper could light it up the rest of the way. He’s a terrific talent having a difficult year. Wake him up, and he could carry any team.

CursedClevelander
Guest
Well, it’s moot now, as Harper was pulled from the market, but yes, Harper is the type of player who can carry a team in October, and he’d have been joining a lineup with Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Michael Brantley. In lieu of him, we got Leonys Martin, of the career .303 OBP. I know it hurts to give up guys that become future stars, but like we just discussed in the deadline deals thread, the ideal MLB trade is a win for both sides. You can’t get talent without giving up talent. You see these guys on fan… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

If you are a GM on the cusp (of playoffs or possibly a WS) it has to be excruciatingly difficult knowing you could be giving away terrific futures for a boost that could end up losing a one game playoff (I hate the one game playoff,I think it’s idiotic). But, then you also have to ask yourself, when, realistically, will you be in this position again?

Paul E
Guest

Harper is sort of hitting into some tough luck with a .241 BAbip. This ranks him 151st of 157 players eligible for the batting title

CursedClevelander
Guest
Yeah, I think he’s due for a hot finish to the year, which is probably why the Nats decided to roll the dice with him – besides, would have been a bit of a PR nightmare unless they got an absolutely ridiculous haul for him. Prospect fetishization tends to only go one way – fans will overrate their own but not think too highly of ones from other teams. So even if the Indians fan blog contingent were rending their garments over losing Shane Bieber, Nats fans would likely be furious that they gave up a former MVP for a… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Since the break Harper is batting .286 with a .952 OPS. Nine games don’t mean much, but I’d guess management would rather hang on, since he’s been a streak hitter his whole career, and in most respects he’s outdoing his 2016 performance. His dWAR is way down. Is that just a fluke or is he really having trouble in the field? As for the Tribe’s chances, it’s their pitching that seems’s suspect to me. The bullpen’s ERA+ is well below 100, and Kluber’s recent starts suggest he might be wearing out. Better to keep Bieber, I’d say. He’s young, and… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
I don’t think there’s a right answer, nsb. As a small market team, do you build for your longest window of contention possible, or do you build for the best chance of a WS win this season? I mean, this isn’t like the Padres waking up one morning, deciding they were suddenly contenders, then disastrously mortgaging the farm for an under-.500 season. The Indians have a pennant in 2016 and a 100+ win season in 2017. They’re definitely on the cusp. They also have substantial long term assets – pretty much their entire rotation (including the out for the season… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
There is an article on FiveThirtyEight.com concerning structural features of this year’s deadline market that I found quite interesting. Basically, it assigns to each team a number that reflects the potential payoff of acquiring short-term talent for a postseason run at this point, and relates that to the depth of each team’s prospect talent, since trade-deadline deals have increasingly come to be trades of short-term gains from mature talent for long-term gains from top prospects. (I don’t think this was always the case — it seems to me there used to be more mutual-gap-filling trades at the deadline.) The FiveThirtyEight… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

I read that tonight’s 25-4 loss to the Nats was the worst drubbing in Mets history. I had no idea that with a history like the Mets’ the possibility of a game being the team’s worst remained open.

no statistician but
Guest

I think it’s typical, in a way, that the commentary is all on the Mets about this game—no criticism intended, epm. But what I see is that Murphy is back in the lineup for the Nats and getting hot, while Harper’s bat continues to mend. The Nats are only five or so back of the unlikely duo of Phillies and Braves, young teams without many players experienced in a pennant race. Was this just a random blowout? or the start of a charge to the top of the standings?

Mike L
Guest

NSB, I suspect that, given the low key approach the Nats took to the trading deadline, the front office shares your optimism.

Paul E
Guest

Regarding injuries, Zimmerman, Rendon, Strasburg, and Wieters have also missed time this year. But, can anyone explain why the Nats let Wilson Ramos move on in free agency? It appears he signed a two-year deal with Tampa (12/12/2016) and then DC goes and signs Wieters (2/24/2017) for more money?

mosc
Guest

I think they viewed Weiters as better. He used to have a very strong defensive reputation and his bat was much more reliable than they’ve gotten.

Paul E
Guest

….and Eaton missed a boatload of games as well.

e pluribus munu
Guest

No criticism registered, nsb, but, in fact, the Mets factoid was one sentence in one report that I read: none of the others mentioned it or focused on the Mets, and I was drawn to the one that did because the link mentioned that Murphey had done something unusual. Of course, my commentary was all about the Mets, but no one should be surprised about that.

Mike L
Guest

Actually, I was impressed that the Mets defense managed two safeties.

Richard Chester
Guest

The Mets worst loss had been 26-7 to the Phils on 6-11-1985.

Richard Chester
Guest

The Nats scored 3 runs in each of 4 consecutive innings in that game. That’s happened only 5 times from 1901-2017.
Yankees on 6-25-30
Yankees on 6-30-30
Dodgers on 8-15-53
Cards on 8-27-78
Red Sox on 6-30-93.

Paul E
Guest

Yes. Erich Von Hayes (Right Field Marshall) of the Phillies hit two homers, including a grand slam, in the first inning . Harry Kalas used to call him, “Vaughn Hayes”, as if he was some sort of calypso singer. That was a very competitive Mets team and a relatively mediocre Phillies squad.

CursedClevelander
Guest

It was by far the Expos/Nats franchise most prodigious output in history, and the highest scoring game by a single team since the Rangers modern era record of 30 back in 2007.

Doug
Guest

Apropos of nothing in particular, but right-hander Oliver Drake was claimed on waivers today by Minnesota. If he sees action with the Twins, he will become the first player (I think) to play for five teams in the same season.

Richard Chester
Guest

Among pitchers I have found 4 others who played for 4 teams in a season from 1901-2018, but none with 5..
Dan Miceli 2003
Ted Gray 1955
Willis Hudlin 1940
Mike Kilkenny 1972

I’ll look for position players later when Fangraphs is operating properly.

Richard Chester
Guest

For position players I found no player to play for 5 teams in a season.
Here are the ones with 4 teams.

Frank Huelsman 1904
Paul Lehner 1951
Wes Covington 1961
Dave Kingman 1977
Dave Martinez 2000
Jose Bautista 2004
John McDonald 2013
Oswaldo Arcia 2016

no statistician but
Guest
Reminds me, somehow, of the record-holding multi-franchise players of my youth, the notorious Bobo Newsom, a very good pitcher whom nobody wanted around because of his behavior otherwise, and the fabled Dick Littlefield, a marginal player for much of his career with one good season for a bad team. Both played for nine different organizations, ten for Littlefield, if you count the Browns and Orioles separately. This in a nine year career. In Newsom’s 20 years he put in five stints for the Senators, three for the Browns, two for the Dodgers, and two for the Athletics, plus singletons for… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Dick LIttlefield — a name to conjure with! It may not count in Littlefield’s career record, but his greatest accomplishment did not occur on any of those nine teams/eight franchises, but rather with the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom he never set foot on the field. Brooklyn accepted Littlefield in a straight-up trade — no other players; no cash — for an infielder named Jackie Robinson. . . . How many journeyman like LIttlefield are traded straight up for an iconic Hall of Famer, whose birthday is a Major League holiday? Littlefield stands alone. Of course, Robinson jumped to the Chock… Read more »
Scary Tuna
Guest

Well, that didn’t take long. Drake appeared in tonight’s game, throwing a scoreless ninth.

Mike L
Guest

Fun little stat yesterday. Lance Lynn, new ace of the Yankees’ staff, managed a Game Score of 87. The highest of his career. True, it was against the White Sox, but grasping at straws is as good as I can do after the smoldering ruins of last weekend.

no statistician but
Guest
Saw a headline: “Is This the Best Red Sox Team Ever?” For position players, no, I’d say. The late 1940s crew—Williams, D. Dimag, Pesky, Stephens, Doerr—and the 1970’s mix of Fisk, Rice, Lynn, Evans, Scott, and the late career Yaz were more dominating, considering the eras, but the current team’s 129 ERA+ with a strong rotation and a strong bullpen, even pitching half their games in Fenway, is what makes the difference. The question is, can they keep it up and stay healthy? As for the Yankees, sorry to be a non-believer in this gang, but the appearance is better… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

The 1978 Yankees were, to refer back to “The Summer of 1949”, RA’s (Red-Asses). This team is young, talented, has a lot of assets, but isn’t quite there. It could use a few Paul O’Neill types. As to the Red Sox, I’m not objective in the least, and won’t comment beyond simply suggesting that the rest of MLB just forfeit the rest of their games against Boston, to spare them the risk of fainting with fear when actually on the field.

Dr. Doom
Guest
So, nsb, I decided to look at OPS+, since you looked at ERA+ but talked about lineups. Let’s keep in mind that the current Red Sox DO have hitting pitchers and the ’70s Red Sox did not (given there was no interleague play at the time). The current Red Sox have a 110 OPS+; from 1974-1980, they were never at 110; they DID reach 109 in 1979, and had a 108 and a couple of 107s in there. Now, if you want to argue that years of numbers that high is more impressive than one year of 110, I can’t… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

There’s every reason to suspect that the Red Sox may be fielding their best team ever, and they may run the table and win another WS. They are certainly living clean right now on top of great performance, with every bounce, every call, even Steve Pearce, etc. going their way. Of course, baseball has this wonderful way of confounding expectations.

no statistician but
Guest
Doom: With fifty or so games to play and the tendency for batting stats to flag toward season’s end, I think you have to be cautious about enshrining the BoSox offense at this point, but even so, what makes the team extraordinary is the pitching. You have to go back to the 1904 squad (ERA+ 126) anchored by Cy Young, Bill Dineen, and Jesse Tannehill to find a possible equal—and only if the current hurlers hold up. Of course, that team had 148 CGs and one save. Trivia point: Buck Freeman, heart of the offense of those early Americans. In… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Other players with HR = 3B and at least 20 of each.

Curtis Granderson with 23 of each in 2007.
Frank Schulte with 21 of each in 1911.

Paul E
Guest

Richard,
If I did the PI correctly, I believe there are only 18 seasons of matching HR and triples, 13 or greater, in a season and, no one has done it more than once in their career?

Richard Chester
Guest

I got the same results for 1871-2017. My original post was for 1901-2017. Going back to 1871 shows Buck Freeman with 25 of each in 1899.

Mike L
Guest

Doom, Boston media already planning on Red Sox beating Mariners record for wins.

no statistician but
Guest
Meaning they have to play at least a 37-11 split, .770 ball, for the rest of the season. Since July 1 they’ve done better than that, true, which is why they’re due to falter a little between now and October. Even if they don’t (and the odds are astronomically high that they do) the world champion Astros—whose team stats for both OPS+ and ERA+ are even better than those of the Red Sox—will be barring the door to the Series. In fact, the Bostons have been over-performing, according to Pythagoras, whereas both Houston and Cleveland have been underperforming. In the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

The Dodgers were in an even better spot last season, needing to go just 26-9 to beat the Mariners’ record. They were 56-11 reaching that point. I was counting chickens, but most turned out to be goose eggs, over easy.

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[…] in Part 1 we discussed the Pythagorean Record and how innings pitched relate to decisions. In Part 2, we saw how ERA+ works. Now, using those tools at our disposal, it’s time to build our WAR […]

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