Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Art of Postseason Play

Postseason play is the hardest element of baseball to predict. The reasons for this is a) all teams that make it to the postseason are good and therefore tightly bundled together talent-wise and b) anything could happen in a 5-7 game series. If you look back at last year you'll see that the Rockies made it to the World Series but were easily defeated by the Red Sox. The Red Sox, according to Bill James' Log-5 method had a 60.8 percent chance of winning the World Series. This means that if the Red Sox had played out the entire 7 game series against the Rockies, the Red Sox would've won 4.256 of them. But the Red Sox won 4 of 4 from the Rockies, so how does this follow? In 4 games the Red Sox should've won 2.5 but instead they won all four. The Red Sox succeeded in part because of luck and partly because they had a top closer, a great defense and a great rotation.

The in season stats with the highest causation of playoff success are to have a closer with a high WXRL(Win eXpectancy adjusted for Replacement Level), a high team FRAA(Fielding Runs Above Average and a high team K Rate. The Red Sox were in the top five in all of these and the Rockies were middle to bottom in all three topping out at 13th in Closer WXRL. But these stats only account for a total of 11% causation of a world series ring, so where's the other 89%? Another 4% is caused by other in season stats while the other 85% is luck. That's right LUCK. So how do you succeed in the postseason? By putting your team in the right situation to get lucky.