Don’t Expect Much, But the Pirates Might Meet Expectations

When it comes to evaluating individual players most baseball people will tell you that runs are not the stat you want to be looking at. The dependence on who is hitting around you in the batting order makes it a weak indicator of how good a guy actually is.

When it comes to evaluating a team most people that have seen Moneyball will tell you runs are huge. And they are. How many you can score and prevent is everything.

With that in mind, a stat called Pythagorean Winning Percentage, or Pythagorean Expectation, was developed to determine the number of wins a team would have based on the runs scored for and against them over the season. As you know, Pythagoras was an Ionian philosopher and mathematician so smart that he’s teaching us stuff about baseball despite having died a few thousand years before it was invented.

Not a great pickoff move, but he was a heck of a GM.
Not a great pickoff move, but he was a heck of a GM.

As it turns out, the formula is generally accurate. Per Pythagoras, the Pirates were expected to have a 70-92 record last season, which actually turned out to be 72-90. Not bad for being dead.

But where does that leave us for this upcoming season? Pirates Prospects was awesome enough to put together who is expected to make the team: Barajas, Jones, Walker, Barmes, Alvarez, Presley, McCutchen*, Tabata, McGehee*, McLouth*, Bedard, Karstens, McDonald*, Morton, Grilli, Resop, Hanrahan, and Correia.

* Have the McEffect.

If every one of those players matches their average for 162-games, the 2012 Pirates will score 743 runs and give up 581. Based on the formula this would lead to the Pirates winning 99 games. Unfortunately those figures are over-estimations for a few reasons, but let’s call it a best case scenario.

More practically, let’s look at what would happen if every player on that 25-man roster scored the same amount of runs this season as they did in 2011. Again, this isn’t a great stat to analyze as players will probably change spots in the batting order—some are even changing teams. But it will probably be closer to the true total they will score.

Plug those numbers in, 469 for and 451 against, and the Pirates will win: 83.89 games. Get that parade route ready.


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