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Articles Tagged Pythagorean Theorem 

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Sabermetric pioneer Pete Palmer tackles the hit and run and other statistical topics.

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Pete Palmer is the co-author of The Hidden Game of Baseball with John Thorn and co-editor of the Barnes and Noble ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia with Gary Gillette. Pete introduced on-base average as an official statistic for the American League in 1979 and invented on-base plus slugging, now universally used as a good measure of batting strength. A member of SABR since 1973, his baseball data is used by the SABR Encyclopedia, MLB.com, Retrosheet, ESPN, and Baseball-Reference.com. He was selected by SABR to be in the inaugural group of nine given the Henry Chadwick award in 2010. Pete is also the editor of Who’s Who in Baseball, soon to be celebrating its 100th anniversary. His latest book, Basic Ball: New Approaches for Determining the Greatest Baseball, Football, and Basketball Players of All-Time, was released late last year.

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Given a discrepancy between \"Pythagorean Wins\" (what you\'d expect from a team given a specific runs scored/runs allowed set) and actual wins leads to all kinds of investigation, chin-scratching, nose-picking, and navel-gazing. Some people will say a team is \"stronger\" than its actual record because it\'s underperforming the formula, and so forth. Suspects for the gap typically include: Strength of bullpen Managerial use of bullpen Clutch hitting Clutch pitching Chemistry Managerial strategies in tight games Luck This leads to interesting observations and theories (team x is 12-0 in one run games, manager Joe\'s teams consistently outperform their Pythagorean record except when they don\'t) but rarely insight. It\'s not as bad as putting a couple of stats into a blender, pressing the \"pulse\" button a couple of times, and claiming the resulting undrinkable smoothie is some kind of innovation. But it\'s still a waste of time.

RS^2 Winning Pct = WPct = ------------ RS^2 + RA^2

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In this study, I am going to put one of James' premier tools--a tool that I have used uncritically for many years--to the test. The results have forced me to revise some of my own methods. Let's all take a good, hard look at James' "Pythagorean theorem".


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