MLB Postseason Preview and Awards

Yesterday throughout the day the Editor-in-Chief at STM had conversed with folks in the office (1T, Baconator, B.D., and the Guru to name a few) about how there seemed to be more on the line on the last day of the season than in any year he could remember. It was also mentioned that it had the makings of an amazing and exciting night of baseball. And with all of that hyperbole, it still undersold how amazing the finish to the 2011 regular season was. I’m a math nerd so probabilities speak to me… check out the following probabilities (courtesy of the New York Times) of some of what we saw last night:

Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the 8th, the Rays had a 0.3% chance of winning the game.
Leading 3-2 with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th, the Red Sox had a 98% chance of winning the game. 
Trailing 7-6 with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th, the Rays had only a 2% chance of winning the game. (And that would be the case if Longoria were up to the plate… if you factored in that former Husker Dan Johnson was hitting .108 on the season and didn’t have a hit since April, I’m pretty sure that the odds were a lot worse!)

And they happened. 

Combine those with the 0.3% chance of failing to make the playoffs with a 9 game lead on September 3rd and there was a 1 in 278,000,000 chance of all of those things occurring. To quote Dumb & Dumber… “So you’re saying that I’ve got a chance!”. And lo and behold IT HAPPENED!! 

And that doesn’t even touch on the odds of Atlanta’s near carbon copy meltdown of an 8 1/2 game lead on September 5th, and a 9th inning lead. It was an absolutely stunning finish to the season…and that doesn’t count the fact that the #2 seed in each league also wasn’t decided until last night. (And if you don’t think that’s important, you might want to note that instead of setting up their rotation for the playoffs, the Brewers determined that avoiding the Phillies was important enough to have Greinke pitch to lock that down.) It was absolutely baseball at its best. 

With that behind us and looking toward the playoffs here are the Swami & Guru’s Award Winners as well as the Swami’s Division Series picks.

Guru’s AL MVP – (1) Justin Verlander (2) Jose Bautista (3) Jacoby Ellsbury 
Swami’s AL MVP – (1) Justin Verlander (2) Jose Bautista (3) Miguel Cabrera
You can make all of the arguments you want about a pitcher not deserving the MVP, but the reality is if you tell me I get to start a team with anyone this year, knowing how the stats will come out, I will take Verlander over everyone else. 

Guru’s NL MVP – (1) Matt Kemp (2) Ryan Braun (3) Justin Upton 
Swami’s NL MVP – (1) Ryan Braun (2) Matt Kemp (3) Justin Upton
Ah the differing opinions. You can’t really go wrong either way. Kemp nearly went 40/40 and carried a nomadic Dodgers team to a winning season. But for my money, I have to go with Braun. A 30/30 season with a near 1.000 OPS and the lynchpin on a division winner. 

Guru’s AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander 
Swami’s AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander
No explanation needed.

Guru’s NL Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw 
Swami’s NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay
Again, you can’t go wrong either way. You can slice the numbers any way you want and the two guys come up about even. But no one comes up bigger than Halladay. And the no hitter won me over.

Guru’s AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson 
Swami’s AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
Everything in me wanted to put in Eric Hosmer, and he won 40% of the Rookie of the Month Awards while he was in the majors this year. And if he were in the NL, he would win. But the reality is that Hellickson had a sub-3.00 ERA while pitching in a wild pennant race in the toughest division in baseball.

Guru’s NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel 
Swami’s NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel
So after last night you may not think so, but Kimbrel was a great closer and easily wins this one.

Swami’s overall Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson
He took nearly the same team that finished in last in 2010 and won the division going away. Unbelieveable.

Division Series Predictions
Phillies over Cardinals
Brewers over Diamondbacks
Tigers over Yankees
Rays over Rangers

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Categories: Baseball

4 replies

  1. Love your percentages – would have liked to see how you figured them. Regardless, I think you missed the best one of all – what is the likelihood that all of these would happen in the same year? … on the order of evolution as the answer to all lifeforms on earth, the planets and universe?

  2. Duh! After posting, I read this to my wife and in so doing I realized that: a) you did not figure the states, the Times did; b) that they did indeed compute the likelihood of all of these things happening. I must admit suspicion of the numbers because: a) how can you factor diverse variables that seem to have no relationship and b) I don’t trust much of anything from the Times and c) why do I always use a, b and c in my sentences? On the other hand Ellen (THE GURU in my life) wants to know if they factored in the human spirit.

  3. 🙂 Rick – here is the NYT link if you want to look at it (I sent it to Jamie/Torn). It was simplified a little in just multiplying all of the probabilities, but it still gives a picture of the components: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/bill-buckner-strikes-again/

    And you can tell Ellen they did not factor in the human spirit at all. Which is fine with my stat nerd self. 🙂

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