08 April 2008

Somewhere along the way I became obsessed with statistics and baseball. Ever since I was a little kid I would take the box scores for the previous days games and line by line go through each game. The sport, with its highly structured play, makes it the best candidate of all sports to be continually dissected by numbers.

Basketball players are remembered for their dunks and three pointers, football players are remembered for their amazing side stepping moves and grit, and baseball players are remembered for the number of home runs they hit and the number of players they struck out.

In a sport where getting 25 more hits over 162 games can improve your hitting from .250 to .300, making you an All Star and saving you from the minor leagues, statistics rule the sport. The entire genre of fantasy sports has become a multi-million if not billion dollar industry because of baseball.

Using the simplest of numbers a lay person can predict the second half of baseball after the All Star game. Seeing that the St. Louis Cardinals are with in 3.5 games of the Cubs may worry some, but seeing that the run differential is only +16 while the Cubs are at +102 tells fans that the Cubs are blowing a lot of teams out while the Cards are scraping by.

Looking to the American League, the same thought process can be used. In the East, Tampa Bay has shocked everyone and many would doubt their ability to maintain that lead over the Red Sox and even the Yankees, but with a run differential of +75 they are just as solid as the Red Sox who are +77. That divisional race will be interesting to watch.

Looking at the numbers is not going to stop fans from buying Yankees tickets, but will tell fans that the Rangers are not as good their record indicates. They are actually -26 which means they have weak pitching and will eventually fade away.

The numbers also give a good overview of the strength of a division. The numbers are not good in the National League West, where the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers are tied for first place with sub-.500 records. Both teams have run differentials just over even, justifying their records.

Baseball will continue to be a game of little details and little numbers, but the game itself remains popular with just about everyone. Of course the caveat is that all the numbers go out the windows once the World Series rolls around.

- Guest written by David

No comments: