Wednesday, October 08, 2008

MLB Final Four

What can you say about the Cubs ... but wow. Statistically they were favorites against the Dodgers. Most people would have said that they were "heavy" favorites, since they had the best record in the NL. As an Atlanta Braves fan, I can tell you how little that matters. Statistically there was a 48% chance of the Dodgers winning, vs. 52% for the Cubs. That being said, there was only about a 10% chance of a sweep...

Of course those numbers are based on season statistics, and many would point out that the Dodgers were a much better team with Manny Ramirez on the team. Is this true? Their record was 29-24 with Manny vs. 55-54 without him. They outscored their opponents 249-214 with Manny, which would translate to a ridiculous 40-13 expected record. Even with 53 games, you see the craziness of small sample sizes... The Dodgers actually gave up slightly more runs per game with Manny than without him, 4.04 vs. 3.98. So the improvement really was in the offense. They scored 4.7 runs per game with Manny, vs. 4.14 without him.

So, Viva la Manny? The small sample size skews things, but they sure look like good picks for the NLCS. The Phillies were a better team in the regular season, but nobody is as good as the Manny Dodgers. You're not going to find me picking the Dodgers. The Braves were in the NL West for a long time, so I learned to hate the Dodgers many years ago. Of course that's only gotten worse since I moved to the Bay Area nine years ago.

So what about the ALCS? Boston is statiscally a better team than Tampa Bay. What is unusual too is that these two teams had strong home vs. away stats. Both teams were much better home teams than road teams. Tampa Bay won the AL East, so they have home field advantage. Could the home team win every game in this series? Even with these teams it is statistically unlikely, but the home team bias suggests that this series will be very close.

By the way, it should be no surprise that the ALCS is between two AL East teams. Six of the top AL hitters in terms of runs created were from the AL East. Ten of the top twenty hitters in terms of runs created per 27 were also from the AL East. Eight of the top fifteen AL pithcers in terms of ERA were also from the AL East. And it's not just Boston, Tampa Bay, and New York. Baltimore and Toronto also had very good hitters (Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff, Alex Rios) and pitchers (Roy Halladay, Jeremy Guthrie).

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