Math kudzu

DMZ · April 24, 2009 at 12:36 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Or “Step on them! Step on them hard!”

Early in the season, I don’t pay attention to the standings for a while. Certainly not to get excited about. But today I broke down and started playing with the numbers, building on Dave’s “Fun Thought” post, wondering what the chances are the M’s will compete for a pennant and how important this series might be. Start with the pre-season conventional wisdom that the Angels were the team to beat in the AL West. That they were a 85-win team.

Now we’re a tenth through the season. Seattle’s 10-6, LA of A are 6-9. They’re three and a half back already. That’s a surprisingly big hole to climb out of already. A couple games ago, when the M’s were 8-3, you could run the rest of the season out and the M’s would finish three games back.

It’s even tighter now — play out the season with the M’s gong .480 or so, the Angels rally to go .525, and they’ll finish two games ahead.

So let’s look at this next series. What if the M’s sweep? They’ll come out 13-6, the Angels will be at 6-12. Then if you still assume they’re 85 and 78-win teams and play that way the rest of the year, the M’s win the division by a game.

2-1, the M’s finish a game back.
1-2, three games back.

Or to put this another way: if the M’s sweep to get to 13-6 and play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’ll win 85 games, or what the Angels were supposed to win. The Angels, to recover, have to play .567 ball all the way to the finish.

This omits of course any adjustment we should be making to their true strength — are the Angels now worse than their pre-season projections? If so, lower their chances. Does the M’s early start (and particularly the Washburn revival) show us that they’re legitimately stronger than everyone thought, and a team that can go .500 or better the rest of the way? If so, bump their chances up.

No matter what, though, the two teams starts have given the M’s a surprising opportunity to put a divisional rival deep into a whole they may not be able to escape this year… and we’re sixteen games in.

We start The Interview, Newer Slimmer Carlos Silva, and The Bus. This is going to be good.


41 Responses to “Math kudzu”

  1. wabbles on April 24th, 2009 12:50 am

    OK, you see, this is why games in April and May DO MATTER! I get so tired of people saying that only July and August are important. Those magical 1995 Mariners were LEADING THEIR DIVISION before Griffey got hurt. If they hadn’t they would have had a lot ground to make up. The past several years, it has become obvious in about May that the team doesn’t have a chance to contend. Games in April and May matter. We have The Interview, a last minute replacement for a mysteriously ill or injured Silva (oh please, oh please, oh please) and The Bus. Let’s take it to them. Let’s do this.

  2. Dexterwins on April 24th, 2009 1:01 am

    Who says only games in July and August are important?

  3. mark s on April 24th, 2009 4:01 am

    This is shaping up to be a fun year. We all knew it would be a very close season. With every M’s win the final results just get closer.

    Current Mariners status: Cautious Optimism.

  4. zzyzx on April 24th, 2009 4:55 am

    If we were to sweep then yes, I think a lot of people will suddenly find the standings quite interesting.

  5. mrmitra on April 24th, 2009 5:55 am

    As much as Silva sucks, I really don’t think we have any better options in the event he falls “mysteriously ill.” I think as long as our offense shows up we have a good chance of sweeping.

  6. argh on April 24th, 2009 6:21 am

    in the event he falls “mysteriously ill.” I

    You may have hit on an idea there. It’s clear that pitching while “mysteriously healthy” hasn’t worked out for him.

  7. tkight on April 24th, 2009 6:32 am

    Who says only games in July and August are important?

    I think that’s a fairly common cliche sportscasters and analysts use.

  8. tkight on April 24th, 2009 6:43 am

    As much as Silva sucks, I really don’t think we have any better options in the event he falls “mysteriously ill.” I think as long as our offense shows up we have a good chance of sweeping.

    I would hesitate to say the team has a “good chance” of sweeping. As mentioned, the M’s still have Silva starting, they’ve outscored us 4.8 to 3.9 in runs per game, Washburn and Bedard should expect a modest regression at some point, it’s on the road, Yuni still shades too much towards third, et al.

    I’m excited — I think we can take two of three, but let’s not forget that one game behind Felix’s brilliance was the team’s worst game of the year.

  9. sass on April 24th, 2009 7:25 am

    We’ve already seen Silva beat up on this Angels lineup, though, as Dave pointed out before his last outing against them, they are actually the kind of team he can do well against.

  10. Sports on a Schtick on April 24th, 2009 7:26 am

    We start The Interview, Newer Slimmer Carlos Silva, and The Bus. This is going to be good.

    I raise you Shane Loux, (TBD) and Jered Weaver.

    The M’s are throwing Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine compared to the disintegrating Angels.

  11. argh on April 24th, 2009 7:32 am

    But can we get a hit here? That’s what I’m wondering. The Ms’ bats haven’t been strong enough to knock a sick wino off a toilet seat. I know that was forecast but it’s grim to watch.

  12. jzalman on April 24th, 2009 7:34 am

    Nice to get some games in against them while they’re still without Lackey and Santana, not to mention Escobar even later.

  13. bakomariner on April 24th, 2009 7:50 am

    I’m heading down Saturday for the Silva start…praying he has a good outing for once…

    The pitching down there is in so much of a mess, that even our offense should be able to score runs…

    A sweep would be freakin’ awesome…

  14. discorax on April 24th, 2009 7:55 am

    Current Mariners status: Cautious Optimism.

    right there with you.

  15. msb on April 24th, 2009 7:55 am

    well, we know that they are already ahead in the Team Chemistry stakes, so c’mon–
    step harder!

  16. tmac9311 on April 24th, 2009 8:05 am

    Well with all the injury and tragedy the Angels have been plagued with, I think we could actually become the favorites for the division. With the way Bedard and Bus have played it almost seems like those wins are locks, and like stated above Silva can actually succeed against a lineup like the Angels. Hopefully our defense isn’t shown in full effect, and the Angels keep running offense over defense in the outfield.

  17. Eleven11 on April 24th, 2009 8:07 am

    I am not testing your math skills, they would beat mine, however, is it valid to makes a “rest of the way” assumption this early? If the M’s are a .480 team, doesn’t that mean the entire season? All seasons have wins and losing periods, why wouldn’t include the start in that, good or bad? Just asking.

  18. PouxBear on April 24th, 2009 8:15 am

    Think of it this way, if you are planning on flipping a coin 50 times and it comes up heads the first ten times, you would still expect that the remainder of the flips would come up heads 50% of the time and not “magically adjust” for the unblievable start.

    Same thing with the M’s, if you truly believe they are an .480 team, then that’s what you should expect from here on out, despite the unbelievable start.

    My apologies if I’ve stolen this example from somebody else, I read it somewhere in the past week or so…

  19. Dave on April 24th, 2009 8:17 am

    Eleven, read this thread.

  20. Dave on April 24th, 2009 8:19 am

    By the way, even PECOTA now thinks the M’s are the favorites to win the AL West.

  21. smatbte51 on April 24th, 2009 8:23 am

    M’s are winning and Griffey is back home. What a great way to start the season.

  22. niterunner on April 24th, 2009 8:27 am

    It’s even tighter now — play out the season with the M’s gong .480 or so, the Angels rally to go .525, and they’ll finish two games ahead.

    It’s still three games, not two.

  23. HamNasty on April 24th, 2009 8:50 am

    Interesting to see that PECOTA has the A’s only .6 wins behind us. They are currently in last, a game behind the Angels.

    But not as interesting once I looked and saw PECOTA had them winning the division at the start of the year.

    I think it will be good for the offense to get out of Safeco(and not facing #1 starters). Angels Stadium is no Coors Field but it can’t hurt.

  24. bakomariner on April 24th, 2009 8:55 am

    I just hope Branyan is healty enough to get back out there tonight…he wasn’t playing great, but it’s better than the debacle of Burkie last night…

    DL Sweeney with the back and bring up Shelton…

    As Dave (or maybe Derek) said a few days ago, it isn’t time to go with the mantra of “if it ain’t broken…”

    We need to distance ourselves as far away as possible…playing with 12 picthers and a banged up bench is just stupid…if we could sweep, with the team we have there today, then we have a good shot at holding this thing long-term…

  25. Shizane on April 24th, 2009 9:13 am

    I raise you Shane Loux, (TBD) and Jered Weaver.

    The TBD is Anthony Ortega….yes, THAT Anthony Ortega (I actually have no idea who this is, but he has not done well in AAA).

    Anthony Ortega is expected to be called up from Triple-A to start Saturday against the Mariners.

  26. joser on April 24th, 2009 9:13 am

    The problem of course is that the Angels may be a real .480 team now, but could be a (say) .600 team in the second half if they get back healthy Vlad and all their starting pitchers (Lacky and Santana are due back next month, apparently). But they may not come back healthy, and you’d expect them to be shaky initially, doing their spring training in May (or whatever). So it all comes down to timing: how long will they be bad, and how quickly will they get good (and how good will they get)?

    The nice thing is that the rest of the AL West (and everybody else) will be trying to take advantage of them too, putting them in a deeper hole the longer this goes on. But really, right now is as easy as it is going to be for the rest of the season, and the team has to put as much ground as possible between themselves and the Angels in the next couple of weeks.

    I still fear Beane will make use of his secret powers to yet again turn a random collection of arms into the most feared rotation in the AL West, and — a couple of shrewd July trades and a patented A’s offensive hot streak later — put a second-half surging Oakland back into the conversation by September.

  27. JMHawkins on April 24th, 2009 9:14 am

    Oh yeah, every game matters. I look at it this way. A game in April might be only 0.6% of the total schedule, but if you’re in a pennant race in September, it’s likely to be 25% or more of the difference.

    Another way to look at it. Felix is a +4 WAR pitcher. Washburn is +1.5 WAR. That’s a difference of 2.5 wins over the whole season, or 0.833 wins over two months. Getting lucky and winning an “extra” game in April is like trading Washburn for a Felix clone at the trade deadline.

    Oh yes, April games matter.

    And math does spread like kudzu.

  28. Breadbaker on April 24th, 2009 9:46 am

    Course, if we get swept instead, all that math goes out the proverbial doorway.

  29. AssumedName on April 24th, 2009 9:49 am

    You may have hit on an idea there. It’s clear that pitching while “mysteriously healthy” hasn’t worked out for him.


  30. bakomariner on April 24th, 2009 10:01 am

    I don’t think there’s a chance we get swept…

    While we can’t see the future:

    Bedard is a lock…he’s on a roll and Loux sucks…

    While Silva sucks, the AAA guy they are calling up probably does too…

    Weaver is shaky and Wash is pitching out of his mind…

    I think at worst, we’ll win at least two…

  31. The Ancient Mariner on April 24th, 2009 10:08 am

    It seems to me there’s no doubt the Angels are worse than their pre-season predictions, given the losses they’ve suffered in the last few weeks; even if you were to throw out the results for the games so far, as people keep wanting to do, you’d still have to recalculate everything.

  32. Paul B on April 24th, 2009 10:14 am

    The M’s can’t go into this series with 3 injured players on the active roster. No more Burke at first, please!

  33. Evan on April 24th, 2009 10:17 am

    By the way, even PECOTA now thinks the M’s are the favorites to win the AL West.

    That’s doubly impressive given that PECOTA hates Ichiro and doesn’t value defense very well.

  34. WyWyWa on April 24th, 2009 10:19 am

    The logic of projecting a 0.480 record for the last 90% seems misguided. The Mariners have played a set of relatively weak teams and therefore their schedule is presumably stronger in the remaining portion of the season. The odds of winning each game is influenced both sides of the contest.

  35. DMZ on April 24th, 2009 10:21 am

    Except that that’s not true, yes.

  36. Broadcast James on April 24th, 2009 10:39 am

    Anecdotally, this reminds me of my dad saying in 2002, some point in the season, that if we just played .500 ball here on out we’d make the playoffs…

  37. WyWyWa on April 24th, 2009 10:56 am

    Not sure what is not true about it…
    So far the Mariners have played 16 games. 13 of the games have been against teams with losing records. The one team with a winning record (Detroit) beat the Mariners in 2 out of 3 games. The overall record of the Mariners opponents thus far: 32-44 (0.420). The rest of the American League: 66 – 54 (0.550). Presumably the Mariners are expected to perform worse against a schedule with more high quality opponents. I guess this ultimately means I do not expect the Mariners to play as a 0.480 team in the last 90% of the schedule, while I did believe that to be true over the full schedule.

  38. joser on April 24th, 2009 11:23 am

    And if the M’s had lost one more game to the Twins, they would’ve lost to a team with an even record, instead of tying a team with a losing record. We’re still early enough in the season that one game either way can make a huge difference to that kind of argument.

    But, more to the point: two out of the five teams the Mariners have played so far are the ones it is competing with for the AL West pennant — and the Mariners beat them. So if the rest of the season against is going to be harder for the Mariners, it’s going to be even harder for those the A’s and Angels, because one of the teams on their remaining schedule is the M’s, whereas two of the teams on the M’s remaining schedule are the Angels and A’s.

    If there’s a quality disparity within a division, the unbalanced schedule magnifies it. This has worked to the Angels’ advantage over the past few years. It would appear to be working to their disadvantage now.

  39. Paul B on April 24th, 2009 11:27 am

    The overall record of the Mariners opponents thus far: 32-44 (0.420).

    Removing the games they have played against the Mariners, leaves 27-33 .450.

    The M’s have played probably their two biggest division rivals, too.

  40. Dave on April 24th, 2009 11:27 am

    You know what happens when you look at the win-loss record of opponents of winning teams early in a season? They look bad, because they lost games to the team with the winning record that you already selected.

    This is called selection bias.

    And there’s no way you thought the Mariners were going 10-6 in their first 16 games with Ichiro starting the season the DL and Johjima and RRS ending up there as well as the Branyan problems. No way.

  41. BurkeForPres on April 24th, 2009 1:47 pm

    How cool is it to be in a place where we are at now compared to last year? By the end of April I remember there being a few posts, and mostly from Dave, that the Mariners were already in a huuuge hole, bigger than the one the Angels are in now, one that would be tough to come back from. Our season was more or less over by the middle of May wasn’t it?

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