Sunday, August 27, 2006

Back against the wall? (Random and meaningless numbers part VI)

So with the sox needing to win at a clip of .667 wins per remaining games for the rest of the season (assuming the Yankees go .500) it feels like our backs are against the wall. One more loss and Yankee win and we’re done.

It occurred to me that we could extrapolate these numbers backwards and forwards through the season to determine how many games back is too far, in other words the proverbial “back against the wall”. Well, time to break out "goal seek" and figure this crap out. Ok, I didn't actually use goal seek, but my spreadsheet is pretty shitty, however I can get a general sense of what I wanted. Here's the breakdown.

First off, a .667 clip is pretty amazing and probably really hard to maintain over a season. In fact, if you did you would win 108 games. I was too lazy to actually look up how many teams have been able to hit that number in the last 100 or so seasons but my assumption was no more than 30 times. On the flip side, winning 4 out 6 games is pretty common. In fact, the best teams do it more weeks than not during the year. After some crappy math I calculated that the chances of winning at a .667 rate were 2.5% for a year and 41% for any given week. (Crappy math available upon request). Assuming that the probability drops off radically relative to the length of the streak I was able to do some “fancy” (See “fuzzy math”) weighting of the number of wins a team would need to catch another depending on how many games were left.

Here is a sample of the results:

121 games left: First place has 23 wins, back against the wall would be 9 games back or 14 wins. (Makes sense, but I am sure if this analysis is done right it will show that this number is actually higher)

81 games left: First place has 46 wins, back against the wall would be 9 games or 37 wins (ok… this makes more sense)

41 games left: First place has 68 wins, back against the wall would be 5 games or 63 wins (seems about right given our current situation)

11 games left: First place has 84 wins, back against the wall would be 3 games or 81 wins (Sounds right to me)

So in conclusions, are chances are shot. I think it’s time to start talking about next year. Oh, and one more thing


  1. Looks about right. The conventional wisdom is that a team can be expected to make up no more than one game per week, which is about what you show, just in a different manner. Of course this is not an absolute, but in general, it holds. So with about 5 weeks remaining, the Sox can't afford to get any further back and need to start making hay.

  2. Of course, a sweep in NY throws out all the math in the world.

    However, this team is not a .667 team...they are more like a lost 8 out of 10...

  3. A sweep? You've got to be kidding. At this point, I'd be happy with one win.

  4. Hey look, Cha Seung Baek is throwing a NO-HITTER. He's given up NO HITS so far.

  5. I'm taking today off from baseball. The 3 game set here starting tomorrow should try my patience.....

  6. Um, I wasn't really suggesting a sweep...Actually, maybe I was...but not the Sox doing the sweeping...

    It is now officially over. If the Yankees and Twins lose their leads to the Red Sox...well, that would make the 04 chokes look like nothing.