30 September 2010

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08 September 2010

Weak Sauce? Secret Sauce's Predictive Capacity Wanes in Recent Years

It was late in the 2006 season when Nate Silver, then of Baseball Prospectus, debuted his oft-referenced Secret Sauce formula for predicting playoff success. Secret Sauce—based on starter strikeout rates, closer win value, and fielding—is attractive for a few reasons. First, it appeals to the Sabremetric community's fondness of obscure, normalized, performance-based peripheral stats. Second, leaving offense out of the equation resonates with conventional wisdom: offense wins games, defense wins championships. Third, it passes the smell test: all the best postseason teams have had great closers, right?

Finally, and most importantly, it seemed accurate at the time. The three graphs below show the historical relationship between Secret Sauce Score and playoff success: