After further study, statisticians found that the difference between expected and actual winning percentage could be further reduced by using an exponent of 1.83 (or 1.81) in the equation instead of two. However, many baseball web sites, including ESPN, still use James’ original equation. Using the improved version of baseball’s Pythagorean Theorem gives us the following numbers for the 2014 West Coast League regular season (teams sorted by actual wins):
Run Exp. Win
Team G RS RA Diff. Wins Wins Diff.
Bellingham 54 276 195 81 37 35 2
Yakima Valley 54 326 236 90 35 35 0
Corvallis 54 319 230 89 35 35 0
Bend 54 316 274 42 31 31 0
Wenatchee 54 324 298 26 30 29 1
Walla Walla 54 350 357 -7 28 27 1
Medford 54 301 272 29 26 29 -3
Victoria 54 296 296 0 25 27 -2
Cowlitz 54 237 234 3 24 27 -3
Kitsap 53 266 319 -53 23 22 1
Klamath Falls 54 280 457 -177 15 16 -1
Kelowna 53 239 362 -123 14 17 -3
|Baseball didn't exist in his time, but we're pretty|
sure Pythagoras would have been a fan if it did.
The magic number of wins to get into the WCL playoffs is generally believed to be 32. So by how much do the HarbourCats have to improve in 2015 to become a playoff team? Yes, wise guy, seven wins is the obvious answer, but the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball gives us a more granular look at the level of improvement required to get into the post-season.
Before we do that, it’s worth noting that the easiest way for the HarbourCats to get into the playoffs is to improve their pitching. Although the team finished seventh in the league in both runs scored and runs allowed in 2014, they were second in team batting average and tallied only 30 runs less than the second-best offense in the league (Yakima Valley). The Victoria pitching staff, on the other hand, gave up a whopping 101 runs more than the league leaders (Bellingham) and 60 more runs than the fourth-best pitching staff.
|New head coach Graig Merritt won't accept |
another losing season in Victoria.
Of course, there are many other combinations of runs scored and runs allowed that will get the team to the magical 32-win mark. For instance, they could score 20 more runs and allow 34 fewer, or tally 27 more and surrender 28 fewer. No matter how you slice it, the team needs to take a big step forward this season to even earn the wild card spot.
The HarbourCats have publicly expressed that their goal is to win 35 games in 2015. How much does the team have to improve in order to reach that lofty level? Just over half of their roster has been announced so far, but one of the more likely scenarios sees them scoring 27 more runs and allowing 60 fewer. In a short 54-game season, that’s certainly easier said than done. While I’m skeptical that the HarbourCats can go 35-19 this summer, I applaud the fact that they are setting their goals so high. We’ll get a better idea of the team’s playoff chances once we get closer to opening day, but right now their prospects have never looked better.