06 October 2015

Toronto Blue Jays Big Favorites as 2015 MLB Postseason Begins

Photo credit: MeCreative Commons 2.0

It begins again: Rational Pastime projections for the 2015 postseason. Tonight, the RP model has the Houston Astros as slight favorites over the New York Yankees. Were these teams evenly matched, the Yanks would be favored 54-46, thanks to home field advantage. However, my RP Score system believes that the Astros are a better team.

In tomorrow's game, my system finds that the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are a pretty even match for exactly the same reason.

As for the rest of the playoffs, the model—which relies on the Log 5 equation and Matt Swarz's numbers for home field advantage—picks the Toronto Blue Jays to win it all as nearly 2:1 favorites. In the Senior Circuit, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the most likely to make it to the World Series, and are 7:1 to win it all. Of the two teams playing tonight, I find the Astros twice as likely to take home the Commissioner's trophy.

Most likely World Series Outcomes:
  1. TOR over LAD in 6: 2.7%
  2. TOR over LAD in 7: 2.4%
  3. TOR over NYM in 6: 2.1%
  4. TOR over STL in 6: 2.1%
  5. TOR over LAD in 5: 2.1%
  6. TOR over NYM in 7: 1.8%
  7. TOR over STL in 5: 1.8%
  8. TOR over NYM in 5: 1.8%
  9. TOR over STL in 7: 1.7%
  10. LAD over TOR in 7: 1.5%
Stay tuned for day-by-day updates this October (and probably November!).

14 August 2015

Mets Poised to Put Nats in Rearview

Though the New York Mets overtook the Washington Nationals in the standings over a week ago, only just now have they caught up with their rivals in Potomac in terms of true talent. As of today, the Mets and Nats are neck-and-neck on the RPScore leaderboard. The last time the Metropolitans had rated better than the Nationals was all the way back on April 29 of this season.

There's still plenty of season left, but the preseason World Series favorites are digging themselves quite a hole just as the Mets are loading up on wins. At present, I'm projecting the Nats to finish five games behind the Mets, six games behind the fifth wild card, and out of the playoffs.

05 August 2015

For Mets, Regress No Barrier to Progress

The New York Mets began the 2015 season figuratively on fire, winning 15 of their first 20 games. Despite their hot start, the RPScore model wasn't impressed. My model, which has been rather stable in its predictions for the Mets all season, expected them to regress heavily, and regress they did.

Albeit, the Metropolitans haven't regressed entirely; Apu's fav-or-ite squadron is still outperforming its RPScore by .024. What's more, the Mets have demonstrated some real improvement of late, improving their rating by .039 since July 1st.

The preseason favorite Washington Nationals, on the other hand, represent the Mets' mirror image. Starting out slow, they righted themselves by the middle of May, conforming rather well to their RPScore expectation. Theirs is a case study in a different type of regression: the positive kind.

While the Nats may have been the better team on paper, the Mets have been luckier. With less than a third of the season remaining, the Mets have a one game lead on the Nationals (they're tied in the loss column). Despite the Nationals' superior RPScore, Elo rating, Pythagorean and BaseRun expectations, my simulator projects a tie in the NL East between the Mets and Nats.

In other words, if the theoretically superior Nationals are to take the division outright, they must play above their theoretically superior talent level.

28 July 2015

Are the 2015 Minnesota Twins Lucky Enough to Reach the Playoffs?

The Minnesota Twins have no business being as good as they are.

By every advanced metric, the 2015 Twins are overachievers, and have been all season. On May 31st, the Twins reached their high water mark, posting a win rate of .612 and sitting pretty at 11 games above .500. That was good for the best record in the American League and second best in Major League Baseball.

To reach that lofty position, Minnesota had scored 225 runs over 49 games while allowing 204. Plug those numbers into the Pythagenpat* formula and you get an expected win rate of .546. That's good, but it's not upper echelon. With the second best win rate and only the seventh best expected win rate, we can deduce that the Twins had been at least a little bit lucky in winning the games they did.

*ExpectedWinRate = RunsScored ^ Exponent / (RunsScored ^ Exponent + RunsAllowed ^ Exponent) where Exponent = ((RunsScored + RunsAllowed) / GamesPlayed) ^ 0.287

But just how lucky were the Twins to score (and prevent) the runs they did? Turns out, very.

06 July 2015

Will Astros Go from Second-Worst to First?

The 2015 Houston Astros are among Major League Baseball's more pleasant surprises.*

*Degree of pleasantness may vary for fans of AL West competitors.

Despite early projections that they would field a below-average team, Houston currently occupies the top spot in the AL West with a three-game lead on the Los Angeles Angels. Even better, the Astros' 48-36 record at the start of play on Monday, June 6, puts them one half game behind the Kansas City Royals for the best record in the American League. Not bad for a team that tied last season's Minnesota Twins with a 70-92 record, outperforming only the hapless Texas Rangers.

My ratings system has considered the 2015 Houston Astros an average-or-better team since mid-to-late April and ranks George Springer's squad among the best in all of baseball at the approximate halfway point. At the conclusion of play on June 5th, Houston's .557 RP Score trails the Oakland Athletics (yes, really) for the AL lead by decimal points, while the two AL leaders trail only the St. Louis Cardinals (.573) and Los Angeles Dodgers (.569) on the MLB leaderboard.

Their strong record to date combines with a favorable RP Score to project a successful finish for Houston. Today's projections, based on a Monte Carlo simulation of the remainder of the 2015 season perfomed 1,024 times, incorporating my RP Score ratings and using the Log 5 method generate win probabilities, give the Astros a median win total of 90. Compared to the median projected win totals of other squads, this leaves Houston in a tie with Kansas City and trailing only the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, Dodgers and Cardinals.

According to the same simulation, there is a 5% chance that the Astros log as many as 97 wins or as few as 83. Each of these totals is four better than their closest division rival, Los Angeles. This despite the fact that the Angels have slightly more home games remaining (48% vs. 47%) and a slightly easier remaining strength of schedule (.509 vs. .513).

Should these projections hold, expect the Houston Astros to make their first postseason appearance since 2005, when they fell to Ozzie Guillen's Chicago White Sox in that season's World Series. For more information on the methodology behind my RP Score ratings system and MLB projections, please visit their respective pages.

24 June 2015

St. Louis Cardinals Sitting Pretty Despite Injuries

Injuries to Matt Adams, Matt Holliday and Adam Wainwright have yet to stop the juggernaut that is the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals. At the start of play on June 24, 2015, the NL Central leader remains atop the RP Score list with a rating of .580. Though this is significantly lower than their posted win rate of .657, the disparity only goes to show that the Cardinals could regress significantly toward the mean and still be the best team in baseball.

Thanks to their league-leading numbers, and thanks to the parity that currently pervades the sport, the Cards are the only team that's more likely than not to win 100 games. The latest simulation puts St. Louis' median win total at 101, with a 95% chance that they will win at least 93. Incidentally, the low end of the simulation's confidence interval its above the median projected win total of every other team.

One reason for these rosy projections, besides team quality, is the schedule: the remainder of the Cardinals' match-ups average out to a weighted RP Score of only .484, and 52% of those contests will take place at home.

And as for those injuries? Since Wainwright went down, the Cardinals have slightly improved their RP Score, from .576 to .580. Likewise, the Cards have improved their score by .008 since both Adams' and Holliday's injuries. This is a team that really knows how to pick up the slack.

06 April 2015

Playing Pepper: The 2015 Washington Nationals

Nationals Park • Photo Credit: Me

Baseball season is upon us!

At 4:05 PM EDT the Washington Nationals will open their season at home against the New York Metropolitans. As I did last year, I contributed a few words about the Nationals' upcoming season for Daniel Shoptaw at Cards Conclave. Dave Nichols at District Sports Page shares his thoughts as well.

We cover the Nats' offseason, their strengths and weaknesses, expectations for Bryce Harper, who we expect to break out and where we expect the team to be come October. Head on over and give it a look.

Rating Systems Challenge: National Championship Game Will Crown ESPN National Bracket or Lunardi RPI

This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

The bad news is that Wisconsin's (1) upset of undefeated Kentucky (1) killed Sagarin's chances of winning the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge. The good news is that we're not done yet. Lunardi RPI, the only system to pick Duke (1) to win it all, can leapfrog to the top of the standings with a Blue Devils win tonight.

Should Wisconsin cut the nets tonight, it will be the first time since before WWII, and it will mean a victory for the ESPN National Bracket. No matter what, ten systems will have outperformed chalk this March (and April): an admirable performance.