View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



March 2006



Reason For Hope?

Written by , Posted in General

Let’s face it, when you said “I Do” to the Cubs as your team, you essentially locked the ball on your leg for life. My writers on this site seem to be trying to jump ship on the season before it has begun. Me? I’m an eternal optimist who honestly believes the Cubs have a shot at the World Series every year. But that does not mean that I am not also a realist as well once the season begins. I just don’t see how you cannot have hope as the season starts. That’s the great thing about baseball. You never truly know what your team will do that year until the games play out. With that being said, I decided to take a look at last years performance and see what type of improvement we needed this year to get where we need to be.

One particular concept I have been looking at a lot lately is a Bill James formula for predicting a team’s record based on their runs scored and runs allowed.

Pythagorean Record (Link)
A formula for converting a team’s Run Differential into a projected Won/Loss record. The formula is RS^2/(RS^2+RA^2). Teams’ actual won/loss records tend to mirror their Pythagorean records, and variances can usually be attributed to luck.

You can improve the accuracy of the Pythagorean formula by using a different exponent (the 2 in the formula). In particular, a sabermetrician named US Patriot discovered that the best exponent can be calculated this way: (RS/G+RA/G)^.285, where RS/G is Runs Scored per game and RA/G is Runs Allowed per game. This is called the PythagoPat formula.

What I decided to do was assume the worst and expect the Cubs to allow the exact same runs as last year. Once I assumed that, I basically asked the question “What kind of offense would we need to counteract that defense from last year and boost us to various win plateaus. Here is the basic math explaination of my research using the formula.

Last year the Cubs allowed 714 runs. What I did was plug in that number in the runs allowed section and left Runs scored as X since we didn’t know how many it would take. Then, I plugged in various win percentages to solve for X and find the runs needed to achieve that win percentage assuming the runs allowed stay the same. I put together some numbers to illustrate how minimal the difference really is.

Wins Runs Needed Increase R/G Increase
81 714 11 0.07
85 750 47 0.29
90 798 95 0.59
95 850 147 0.91
100 907 204 1.26

As you can see, the Cubs really need only to score a little above one extra run per game. When you think about the fact that 1) The offense wasn’t that good last year. And 2) The pitching staff has to get better, right? You start to realize that the margin between good baseball and bad baseball is a slim one. Let’s hope the Cubs are on the winning end this season.