Friday, August 11, 2006

I thought it meant a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared

The secret ingredient is love.

Baseball is such a weird fucking game. I learned a new thing tonight: some mentally damaged people keep track of a baseball stat called "The Pythagorean Winning Percentage." I noticed this stat while looking at a page about the 1983 White Sox (OK, so I'm mentally damaged too, focusing on nostalgia disorder), which stated that the team's record that year was 99 and 63 -- with a "Pythagorean W-L" of 96 and 66.

What the fuck is a "Pythagorean Winning Percentage"? Well, thanks to the magic of Google and this autistic website, I now know that it means this:

Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. It is calculated by

(Runs Scored)^1.83
(Runs Scored)^1.83 + (Runs Allowed)^1.83

To the 1.83 power? I can't explain why, but this is the sort of thing that makes me love baseball ... kind of like the way I loved that ugly dog that made all the news last year.

Ah. The baseball Rain Men go on to explain:

The traditional formula uses an exponent of two, but this has proven to be a little more accurate.

Sure. So there's not only a stat called "Pythagorean Winning Percentage," but there's a traditional version of it that has been improved upon. And people say America lags science-wise?

Not to pick nits, but what can they mean by "more accurate"? Wouldn't the most actual winning percentage stat be ... how many games the team won out of 162? I mean, the whole point of a faux Greek mathematician warpage here has to be to indicate some kind of speculative bullshit like "How many games would you expect this particular team to win in a given season," or even worse, "How many games did this team deserve to win"? And then, what insane voodoo pretend metric do you use to measure accuracy of your farkakta numerology?

And also -- if 1.83 is just "a little" more accurate, does this mean there are undiscovered exponents that would be even more fictionally and derangedly accurate?

Are they homing in on the quantification of luck?

Oh man, this is gonna keep me up nights.

POSTSCRIPT: Predictably, the Wikipedia entry on this mishegoss has even more on the exponent madness. I really wish I had worked harder at math. It seems like a medium with great comic potential.

1 comment:

the comments fairy said...

Why, hello there Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss! I'm the Comments Fairy! I visit good little bloggers who need a comment. So keep up the good work and know that the Comments Fairy is reading and enjoying each and every post! You have a terrific day now, ya hear?