Sunday, April 23, 2023

League Rules on Sweeps and Rotations Make it Easy to Add Surging Pirates

We start each Statis-Pro season by relegating five teams in whichever league we are playing, thus starting with 10 teams to help us get in enough games for a sample size. However, if one or two of the five extra teams plays well in MLB we sometimes add them and let them catch-up in games.

This year it looks like three of our NL relegated teams - the Nationals, Giants and Rockies - will stay relegated.

The Miami Marlins are 12-9 so far, but they have been outscored by 20 runs - meaning their expected win loss record is only 8-13, so we are still suspect on them. Generally teams with a bad run deferential fall toward the expected winning percentage as the season goes on - because bad teams can get lucky and pull off some one and two run games but likely not sustain that.

# League Rule 1 - SWEEP for winning by +5. This is the reason in our short Statis-Pro season we count each game as a 3-game series and only give a team a sweep the 14% of the time they win by 5+ runs, the same percentage as a team sweeping a 3-game series. This gives a more accurate record because a team that barely wins some games and then gets blown out in their losses is likely going to lose more of their games long-term.

A perfect example in a recent series, the Braves have much better cards then the Reds. However, the Reds hit a 3-run homer in the 8th to stun the Braves by a run. In the nightcap the Braves drubbed the Reds by double digits. If we played our season straight up then both teams would go 1-1 in the series, but with our League Rule 1 the Braves win the series 4 games to 2. The reason this makes the game more accurate, is if one team wins a game by 1 and the other team by 14 runs, it is very likely the team that won by 14 is going to win more games in the rest of the series due to the expected win loss record based on run differential.

# League Rule 2 - pitch 1st and 4th in rotation or 2nd and 3rd in rotation. The possibility that we might add a team or two is also a reason we have our rotations go from the Ace or #1 starter in the first game to the #4 pitcher in the next game. Then in the second series the #2 and #3 pitchers pitch. This is so that if we add a team late after others have played games, they can play several series no matter who they are up against rather than have the advantage or disadvantage of  having one team's #1 & #2 pitcher go up against the other team's #3 and #4 pitcher. Rather, if the teams are in different places in their rotation, a #1 and #4 on one team vs. a #2 and #3 is fairly even.

Which leads us to the 15-7 Pittsburgh Pirates, whose +23 run differential means they should be almost that good at 13-9. We are considering going ahead and putting Pittsburgh in the league.

Right now our next series are Philadelphia vs. Arizona and New York vs. San Diego, but before or after that we may add Pittsburgh to the grid.

Here is a look at the Pirates Statis-Pro cards for pitchers and batters.

We can see at first glance why the team is playing better than expected based on the line-up. Three hitters with above average but not great hitting cards are Connor Joe and Jack Suwinski (who in the game look like a strong platoon in left field) and the once again Pirate Andrew McCutchen. During the great 15-7 start they all have an OPS of a couple of hundred points higher then their card, so we will see if they cool off in the real season or can keep it up.

Meanwhile, the pitching staff doesn't look great at first glance, but because they pitch in a hitters' park, they all get to turn the top home run number for each opposing batter into an out. For that reason David Bednar's PB 2-8 really does look like a big time closer, which he has also been in 10 relief appearances in the actual season. And even a couple of PB 4-7s in the rotation are strong when turning the home run number into an out.

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