Baseball is a beautifully egalitarian game: between the four major sports leagues, the difference in winning percentages between the best and worst teams explains why the yearly tropes of “Could Alabama beat the Jaguars?” or “Is Kentucky an NBA team?” exist with serious contemplation. Using the standings from the most recently-completed regular seasons, the NFL led the way with a .650 gap, trailed by the NBA at .622, the NHL at .360, and MLB at .210. Countless factors inevitably decide this gap, but the main focus is truly on how equal these teams are; playing multi-game series versus the same team reveals a levelling effect with the relative rarity of sweeps. Delving into the phenomena of MLB’s devotion to the mean compared to other sports would warrant an extensive investigation on its own, and today’s inagural Sabermetrics Sunday is meant only to depress with numbers, not words.
Your team will suck. This is an inevitablity. There will be no 72-10 Bulls in baseball, no ’72 Dolphins, but you can remain hopeful that your team will probably avoid 72 wins themselves. Even with few results in for the 2015 MLB season, the forumula for regressed winning percentage yields comfort for fans of, shall we say, slow starts. The formula, taken from an article on this topic last year in FiveThirtyEight, reads as follows: (33.5 + Wins) / (67 + Wins + Losses).Not very complicated, but effective all the same. Applying this formula to the MLB season as of 4/25/15, we get these results.*
*Note, rWin% =! The win% of rWins. and rLosses. This is because I’ve taken the percentage given from the formula, multiplied that by 162, and then rounded that number to give rWins and, subtracting that number from 162, rLosses.
Major takeaways include there only being a projected .129 difference in the teams with the best and worst records, and that the always-crowded AL East has all teams within .039 points of each other. The fun about regressing towards the mean is that very little differentiates the top from the bottom, and the teams who can peak the longest usually win out in this ultra-competitive atmosphere. For those who don’t think every game in a 162-game season counts, regressed wins will tell you a different story.