Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Freakonomics" on the Rangers' 30-run line score

Freakonomics' Stephen Dubner argues that the Rangers' line score in yesterday's 30-3 win is unusual. Dubner says he would have predicted something like this:

431 056 353

But the actual line score was

000 509 0(10)6

There was a lot more clustering than Dubner would have expected.

The post went up 40 minutes ago, but already commenters are arguing that there are reasons that runs come in clusters in baseball. TWstroud makes the important point that there is a "queueing issue," in that the first 2 or 3 singles don't score right away, but instead join a "queue" that makes it easier to score future runs.

One point I'll make is that record-breaking scores are more likely to be clustered than non-record-breaking scores. Scoring 30 runs likely means you hit better than normal with runners in scoring position. That means your hits were clustered more than usual.

That is, suppose team A and team B both put 40 men on base; team A scores 20 runs, team B scores 28 runs. Team B left fewer men on base, which means more clustering of hits.

The Rangers had 29 hits and 8 walks. Scoring 30 out of 37 baserunners, you should expect few men left on base, which means the hits were clustered more than usual, which means that the runs must have been scored in bunches.



At Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the reasons why yesterdays game featured large clusters of runs might be that it was the first game of a double header and the Orioles didn't want to waste all their pitchers in a game they couldn't win. If the game was close and it wasn't a double header I am sure that the Orioles would have made better use of their bullpen to minimize the damage, particularly in the 10 run 8th and 6 run 9th. But the game didn't matter so they ran out some of their lesser pitchers and let them finish the game regardless of how they pitched.

At Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

Very good point. Did anyone watch the game? Were the relievers grooving pitches, or throwing with less movement and velocity than normal? Did they maybe start doing that only when they got tired?

At Thursday, August 23, 2007 10:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This game is a good reminder of why I like to derive Pythagorean win expectation on a game by game basis instead of looking at cumulative run differential for the season.

At Thursday, August 23, 2007 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

If I am not mistaken, when using Pythagoras for an individual game, instead of using exponent 2 or 1.83, you use exponent infinity.

Hee, hee. Sorry. :)


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