CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
The BP Broadside: Than... (04/06)
<< Previous Column
Between The Numbers: P... (03/31)
Next Column >>
Between The Numbers: P... (04/08)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Pi... (04/07)

April 7, 2011

Between The Numbers

Fun with selective endpoints!

by Colin Wyers

Did you know? Only two teams have begun the season 0-5 and made the playoffs! It's, like, math and stuff!

Okay, let's put this into some context. Going back to 1974, 68% of World Series teams had at least one five-game losing streak. If we look at all playoff teams, that number creeps up to 70 percent. (Counterintuitively enough, if you only look at World Series winners, the percentage goes up to 75%. Ah, the joys of small sample sizes.)

If you keep going down the line:

  • 39% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least six games,
  • 20% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least seven games,
  • 9% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least seven games.

The longest losing streak ever sustained by a playoff team over that timespan? The '82 Atlanta Braves lost 11 games in a row and still made it to the playoffs.

It's just that normally these sorts of streaks happen in the middle of the season, where they're a lot harder to notice. But the timing of the streaks (or even the order of the wins and losses at all) doesn't affect whether or not a team makes the playoffs, only the number of wins and losses do. Teams that have started 0-5 have dug themselves a hole, sure, but a perfectly manageable one. There's no reason for Red Sox or Rays fans to give up hope just yet. (Astros fans... there are probably plenty of reasons to give up hope just yet, but you knew about most of those before the season started.)

Colin Wyers is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Colin's other articles. You can contact Colin by clicking here

11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

dianagram

thank you!

Apr 07, 2011 08:10 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Charles Dahan
BP staff

"It's, like, math and stuff!" is my new favorite response to nonsense, displacing, "It's brain science".

Apr 07, 2011 08:16 AM
 
BurrRutledge

Rocket surgery.

Apr 11, 2011 10:01 AM
rating: 0
 
RedsManRick

I made the mistake of trying to explain the Baysean nature of examining the Red Sox playoff odds to some of my friends. That didn't go well.

Of course, if all we knew about the Sox is that they're 0-5 we could feel pretty good about writing them. But of teams that have this much talent and started 0-5 (or experienced a 5 game losing streak), how did they fare on the season?

The playoff odds report seems to paint a good picture.

Apr 07, 2011 08:19 AM
rating: 0
 
Michael
(736)

Given that the Red Sox' five-game winning streak is from the beginning of the current season to now, dismissing factoids based on that as "Fun with Selective Endpoints" seems like a misplaced criticism.

The problem is (1) too small a sample size and (2) ignoring all other available information about the team when comparing it to other teams that started 0-5.

Apr 07, 2011 08:48 AM
rating: -1
 
craigburley

No Michael, I don't agree, I think that is *exactly* a selective endpoint. A five-game losing streak to begin the season means nothing more or less than a five-game losing streak at any other time in the season, it's just more noticeable.

Trying to make a big deal of it based on how teams starting 0-5 have fared is cherry-picking.

That said, as a Jays fan, I am confident that the AL East has started as it means to go on.

Apr 07, 2011 10:38 AM
rating: -1
 
Sky Kalkman

There are some semantics here (as always), but there IS something important about the losing streak being these five games. Well, not *these* five games, but a specific five games. It could be August 12th through 16th, too.

A team that goes 0-5 over those specific five games has a very good chance of having another 0-5 stretch at some other time. If we widen our scope to include teams that go 0-5 at any point in the season, we're including a bunch of teams for which that's their only five game losing streak. On average, these teams will have fewer stretches of five game losses, and fewer losses total.

For example, take a .500 team (where you flip a coin for every game). If they start 0-5, we'd expect them to win 78.5 games (50% of the 157 left.) If, on the other hand, we simulate out 10,000 seasons for this .500 team, all the seasons in which they have a five game losing streak average about 80.5 wins.

Apr 07, 2011 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
sensij

Thank you for posting this. Timing of the streak does matter.

Apr 07, 2011 14:40 PM
rating: 0
 
npb7768

The 1983 Orioles had two separate 7-game losing streaks.

Apr 07, 2011 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
Shaun P.
(676)

It certainly doesn't mean anything, but the historical context is interesting.

As many of my Sox friends reminded me this morning, with much glee, "Once upon a time, no MLB team had ever won a 7-game playoff series when they were down 3-0 after 3 games." I think they're just pleased that they start the season 0-6 and then get to play the Yanks. Bad timing for the Yanks.

Apr 07, 2011 14:40 PM
rating: 0
 
drawbb

Is the third bullet point supposed to read "9% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least EIGHT games"?

I'm assuming this is an editing mistake and I know these things happen, but there's been an alarming increase in their frequency over recent weeks and it's not particular to any particular author on the site. One can only wonder if it's due to the effective departure of Christina, but it's certainly not a promising trend.

Apr 19, 2011 08:11 AM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
The BP Broadside: Than... (04/06)
<< Previous Column
Between The Numbers: P... (03/31)
Next Column >>
Between The Numbers: P... (04/08)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Pi... (04/07)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
West Coast By Us: We Bat Flipped a Plane
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, May...
Premium Article Painting the Black: Stealing Signs
Eyewitness Accounts: May 28, 2015
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Started From the Bottom, ...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Eduardo Rodriguez
Premium Article Some Projection Left: Ask the Industry: Catc...

MORE FROM APRIL 7, 2011
Premium Article Future Shock: An Ideal Road Trip
Premium Article Overthinking It: Rule 5 Roulette
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL West: The Fast Starte...
Spitballing: Trading Places
Premium Article Manufactured Runs: The Closer Quandary
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Bullpen

MORE BY COLIN WYERS
2011-04-08 - BP Unfiltered: Pardon Our Dust
2011-04-08 - Between The Numbers: Playing the Odds
2011-04-07 - Premium Article Manufactured Runs: The Closer Quandary
2011-04-07 - Between The Numbers: Fun with selective endp...
2011-02-24 - Manufactured Runs: PS Odds, I Love You
2011-02-21 - BP Unfiltered: Depth Charts and PFM Open
2011-02-18 - Premium Article Manufactured Runs: Projecting Pujols
More...

MORE BETWEEN THE NUMBERS
2011-05-24 - Between The Numbers: A Batted Ball Puzzler
2011-05-12 - Between The Numbers: Good Days for Debuts
2011-04-08 - Between The Numbers: Playing the Odds
2011-04-07 - Between The Numbers: Fun with selective endp...
2011-03-31 - Between The Numbers: Projected Standings and...
2011-03-18 - Premium Article Between The Numbers: The Rule X Draft
2011-02-02 - Between The Numbers: Better With Less: ERA E...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2011-04-08 - Between The Numbers: Playing the Odds
2011-04-07 - BP Unfiltered: In the Beginning...