06 November 2015

World Series Expectancy Stats Raise Question: Were the Mets Ever Really in It?

Dave Studeman calls Win Probability Added (WPA) the "ultimate story stat." WPA uses Tom Tango's win expectancy tables to measure a team's probability of victory (ergo, win expectancy) following every play. From these data, we can interpret several different characteristics of the game, including how close it was, how exciting it was and what the biggest plays of the game were. We can also take each change in win expectancy, credit it to the pitcher and batter (or baserunner) involved in the play, and measure their contributions by the sum of all those credits. That's what WPA is.

By combining FanGraphs' WPA numbers and my World Series projections, I aim to depict and uncover the stories of the 2015 World Series in the same way. How close was it, really? What were the biggest plays? Who was on the mound, in the batter's box and on the base path when the biggest plays happened, and what does the sum of the swings in win expectancy say about who the biggest contributors were?

You can read my answers to these questions below, and answer your own questions by using the interactive 2015 World Series Win Expectancy chart.

02 November 2015

Crowned Kings in Queens, Royals Flush Mets in Five

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

Photo credit: slgckgc (Some Rights Reserved)

All good things must end, and end they did for the New York Mets on an unseasonably warm November evening in Queens. On two occasions the Mets were marginal World Series favorites, but they never did get over the hump. The Mets' loss is—literally—a victory for the Kansas City Royals. Favorites since the beginning of the Fall Classic, the Royals clinched their first World Series in three decades thanks to talent, good timing and an unbelievable supply of pluck (yes, that is the sabermetric term).

01 November 2015

Royals on Verge of Coronation

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

Photo credit: Cathy T (Some Rights Reserved)

We've reached the point in the postseason where small mistakes yield huge impacts. But not for a few inches, Daniel Murphy and Yoenis C├ęspedes might have maintained the lead proffered by Michael Conforto. Unfortunately for the New York Mets, those inches made a tremendous difference in their chances of winning the 2015 World Series. Instead of evening it up, the Mets will be facing elimination tonight against the Kansas City Royals. The favorites have a 90% chance of winning it all. The underdogs are in their worst shape since game four of the NLDS.

31 October 2015

Metropolitans Defend Citi

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

The New York Mets rebounded Friday night with an exceptional performance against the Kansas City Royals, displaying genius on the mound and in the batter's box. The win very likely saved the Mets' season, as no team has ever rebounded from a 3-0 World Series deficit. Instead, New York recovered to 7:3 underdogs, about the same place they were between games two and three of the NLCS. The Royals are still very much in the driver's seat as 70% favorites.

29 October 2015

Queens Awaits Heavily Favored Royals

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

Last night belonged to Johnny Cueto and the Kansas City Royals. The Royals' trade deadline acquisition is finally living up to his career numbers, shutting out the New York Mets save for one inning in which the strike zone mysteriously shrunk. His work, along with a four-run fifth, ensured that Kansas City would rise to 2-0 in the 2015 World Series: good enough to become 82% favorites.

28 October 2015

Royals 66% Favorites after Instant Classic

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

Just when we thought the playoffs couldn't get any more exciting, the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets proved us wrong. In a game of rueful valleys and dizzying peaks, the Royals tied game one of the 2015 World Series against dominant Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the ninth. Five innings later, Kansas City walked off with a sacrifice fly off the presumably immortal Bartolo Colon.

By the time they reached their beds, Alex Gordon & Co. were 66% faves to win the Fall Classic. The Mets, now 2:1 underdogs, are right back where they were after game three of the NLCS: not on top, but still in good shape.

27 October 2015

Royals or Mets? Flip a Coin. No, Really: Go Ahead and Flip a Coin.

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

Want to simulate the outcome of the 2015 World Series? Flip a coin. No, seriously: find a coin and flip it.

My simulator—based on Matt Swartz's home field advantage calculations, the Log 5 equation and my own RPScore true record estimates—has the Kansas City Royals winning 51% of the time. Thanks to the work of Persi Diaconis, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Stanford University, we know that if we vigorously flip a coin, there is a 51% chance that the coin will land on the same side it started out on,* conveniently equivalent to the Royals' chances of winning it all.

*h/t Smithsonian Magazine

So, go ahead: find a coin and note whether it's heads up or tails up. Give the coin a good flip. Did it land the same way it began? If so, you just picked the Royals. If not, you picked the New York Mets to go the distance. There's your prediction.