Putting the Dodgers and Nationals to the statistical test
Wed, Apr 25, 2012 (5:01 p.m.)
Pat Sullivan, AP
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals have emerged as the most surprising teams of the young baseball season. Both jumped out to hot starts and sit atop their divisions. For fans, as well as those who invest in the outcome of baseball games at the betting window, the big question is how much that means at this stage of the season.
Fortunately, with apologies to Allen Ginsberg, I have seen the best minds of my generation devote their considerable brainpower to solving these kinds of baseball mysteries. An ingenious method devised by baseball stat wizards entails adding 37 wins and 37 losses to a team’s current record—yes, even this early in the season—to estimate its winning percentage for the rest of the season.
The Dodgers and Nationals each started off 12-4. Add 37 and you get 49-41, a .544 winning percentage. Playing .544 ball for the season’s remaining 146 games translates to 79.5 more wins, or a total of 91.5 regular-season victories—and a likely spot in the playoffs.
In Las Vegas this week, you could bet the Dodgers at 16-1 and the Nats at 25-1 to win the World Series.
The rap against the Dodgers is that their record could be artificially inflated. They have played most of their games against the dregs of the National League, particularly the Astros, Pirates and Padres. Also consider that the Dodgers were 40-1 to win the World Series before the season began, so much of the perceived value has been hammered out. The price on the Nationals, which also stood at 25-1 before the season, seems more appealing.
In short, hot starts do carry plenty of weight, even this early.
Marlins Park, the spacious new stadium in Miami, is expected to play as a pitcher-friendly ballpark. The betting totals in Miami’s home games so far have reflected those expectations: The total was either 7 or 7.5 runs in each of the Marlins’ first seven home games. The total ended up going “over” the number five times, though, with one “under” and a push. The lone under came on Opening Day, when Kyle Lohse flirted with a no-hitter on the way to a 4-1 victory for St. Louis. After the game, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was asked if the stadium is a pitcher’s park. His reply: “For Lohse, yes.” It’s tough to argue with that logic