• Doing The Math On Yanks Catching Red Sox

    Posted by on May 25th, 2007 · Comments (13)

    For the past two weeks or so, I’ve suggested that Yankees fans should forget about hoping to catch the Red Sox – and focus their desires on winning the Wildcard this season.

    Whenever I suggest this, many Yankees fans come back to me with statements along the lines of “We have a ton of games left with Boston. All we need to do is to win those games and we can close the 9.5 game gap in a hurry.”

    Yes, the Yankees do have 9 games left, this season, with Boston. They play each other 3 times (each) in June, August, and September.

    The bad news here for the Yankees is that 6 of the 9 games are to played in Fenway Park. Given the location of the games, I think the Yankees would be lucky to go 5-4 in these 9 contests. (And, that’s based on how these teams really play against each other.) However, since many Yankees fans think the Yankees will beat up on Boston in these games, I’m going to look at two scenarios here – one where New York wins 8 of 9 games, and, the other where New York wins 6 of 9 games.

    If New York takes 8 of the 9 games remaining with Boston this year:

    This would still only get the Yankees within 2.5 games of the Red Sox. Therefore, if Boston tanks the rest of the season (by playing .533 baseball), New York would need to play .565 baseball (61-47) to pass them. However, if Boston plays within reason the rest of the season (by playing .561 baseball), New York would need to play .593 baseball (64-44) to pass them.

    Note that last line: If the Yankees beat Boston 8 out of 9 times, and the Red Sox play reasonable baseball in the rest of their games, New York would have to play 20 games over .500 against everyone else to pass Boston. This is really asking a lot from the Yankees – take 8 of 9 from the Sox and play 20 games over .500 in their other games.

    If New York takes 6 of the 9 games remaining with Boston this year:

    This would still only get the Yankees within 6.5 games of the Red Sox. Therefore, if Boston tanks the rest of the season (by playing .533 baseball), New York would need to play .602 baseball (65-43) to pass them. However, if Boston plays within reason the rest of the season (by playing .561 baseball), New York would need to play .630 baseball (68-40) to pass them.

    Note that last line: If the Yankees beat Boston 6 out of 9 times, and the Red Sox play reasonable baseball in the rest of their games, New York would have to play 28 games over .500 against everyone else to pass Boston. Is that likely to happen?

    Bottom line, in order for the Yankees to pass the Red Sox this year, three things need to happen:

    1. The Yankees need to beat Boston at least 6 more times this season (in their 9 remaining head-to-head games).
    2. The Yankees need to play extremely well (for the remainder of the season) from this point forward.

    And, most importantly…

    3. Boston needs to tank – meaning play more like they did in 2006 than they are playing in 2007 – from this point forward. Because, if Boston just plays “reasonably” well from here out, even if the Yankees beat the Sox in their H-T-H games, and New York plays “reasonably” well from here out, the Red Sox have enough of a cushion to offset those two blows.

    Just do the math.

    And, then, forget about catching Boston and start hoping to win the Wildcard. There’s too many things that have to happen, in concert and in the Yankees favor, for New York to win the east this season.

    Comments on Doing The Math On Yanks Catching Red Sox

    1. May 25th, 2007 | 11:57 am

      well so far we won 3 out of our last 4…thats .750 baseball! :P

    2. DFLNJ
      May 25th, 2007 | 1:26 pm

      I don’t think anyone is arguing with your math, Steve. It’s just too early to close out any possibility of winning the division. There’s too much season left and too many crazy things happen to baseball teams for you to say, definitively, that the division is impossible to win. Unlikely, yes. Impossible, no.

      And if the Yankees shoot for the division but only end up winning the Wild Card, that’s fine by me. The playoffs are the playoffs.

    3. Don
      May 25th, 2007 | 2:24 pm

      Steve, we get your point, boy do we ever get it.

      The Yankees cannot win the AL East in 2007 unless the Bosox choke or ‘tank’.

    4. May 25th, 2007 | 3:16 pm

      I thought going into it that this series in NY was the critical inflection point in the season. If the Yankees had swept and sat 7.5 back instead of 9.5 with another momentum series with newly added pressure in Fenway Park on the horizon, I was willing to stay away from the mathematical improbabilities.

      But with where everyone stands today and the logic that you point out, the odds of the Yankees catching the Red Sox are slim. I would say the same things should they be reversed as well. According to CoolStandings.com (see post here – http://www.redsoxtimes.com/?p=772 – at Red Sox Times) the Red Sox are 90% chance to win the division.

      Look….there is still alot of baseball to be played and we’ve seen leads disappear in the past, but it would be Chicken Little of me to say that I didn’t feel very comfortable about where the Red Sox sit right now.

    5. Tano
      May 25th, 2007 | 3:39 pm

      This is all such complete crap.

      Is it some unheard of phenomenon for the Yanks to sweep 3 in Boston? Gee, I dont think anything like that has ever happened….. /snark

      Is it like totally inconceivable that the Yanks could win 6 games in a row against (gulp) the Angels and the BlueJays? Nah,,,,only in my dreams, no doubt.

      Is it completely beyond the realm of possibility that the Sox lose two out of three against Texas, and the Indians? Would this amount to some sort of historical collapse?

      Hmm. And if all three of these things were to happen, then suddenly the Yanks would be 2.5 games behind in mid June.

      No. We really need to give up on this season. The geniuses have done the math!. Its over!

    6. May 25th, 2007 | 3:42 pm

      Steve,

      There is just 1 detail that needs to be included into the equation.

      Yes, it is true that, if the Red Sox do play at a .533 pace the rest of the season, the Yankees will need to play at a .630 pace. But, what gets overlooked is the fact that it is much more common that a team will play at a higher pace than what teams will normally play over the course of an entire season.

      The Yankees have had at 1 108 game stretch in which they played a .630 or better pace in 48 of their 104 seasons, a 46% rate. By comparision, the Yankees have played .630+ over the course of a season 26 times, a 25% rate. In other words, the odds of playing .630+ over 108 games is 84% more likely than to have to do it over the course of an entire season.

      Also, the Yankees have had at least 1 108 game stretch with a .630+ pace in each of the past 5 years.

      So, things aren’t looking good right now, but having to play at a X pace overstates matters by overlooking the vast difference between the difficulity in doing it over the course of a season as opposed to over the course of a stretch of the season.

    7. May 25th, 2007 | 5:02 pm

      ~~~But, what gets overlooked is the fact that it is much more common that a team will play at a higher pace than what teams will normally play over the course of an entire season.~~~

      Hey, if the Yankees play .500 the rest of the way, that’s still a higher pace than this season to date too. [wink]

    8. May 25th, 2007 | 5:09 pm

      ~~~We really need to give up on this season. The geniuses have done the math!~~~

      Did I say that? I said try and win the wildcard and don’t worry about trying to pass the Red Sox. Is that giving up on the season?

    9. May 25th, 2007 | 5:15 pm

      I would say that focusing on the disgraceful don’t deserve to be in the postseason, but we’ll let you in anyway spot is giving up on the season.

    10. May 25th, 2007 | 5:29 pm

      Better lucky than good, no? [wink]

    11. Don
      May 25th, 2007 | 6:16 pm

      That’s hardly giving up on the season, looking for the WC, with where this team stands. And WC teams win WS.

    12. May 25th, 2007 | 11:25 pm

      If it’s a matter of missing the playoffs or getting the wildcard, I will the latter 100% of the time.

    13. May 26th, 2007 | 12:06 am

      DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I meant to say that, if it’s a matter of missing the playoffs or getting the wildcard, I will take the FORMER 100% of the time.

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