In the wake of Eric Hosmer’s decision to make a dash for home plate in the top of the 9th inning, all you have to do is go through the Twitter feeds of baseball fans and analysts or listen and read the wealth of commentary both spoken and written about the play. There is a huge, quite vocal faction of analysts who believe that Hosmer may have scored on the play but it was a foolish decision. Bad process + good result = dumb luck is essentially what they are saying.
Bill James’ Pythagorean Theorem states that there is a very tight relationship between a team’s run differential over the course of the year and its season-ending win total. For instance, teams that don’t outscore their opponents are not over-.500 caliber teams, and therefore their ability to win more than 81 games is discounted, should it happen. The opposite side of the coin is true as well. Of course, in 2015 this relationship is so well-known that casual fans – in all four major sports – often cite unsustainable performances based on point, run, or goal differential when looking at league standings. The AL East annually seems to make a mockery of that relationship.
A free-agent signing is more or less an auction with soft factors such as location, co-workers, etc. infrequently playing a minor role over monetary considerations. If you really want to be a skeptical reporter, this should have been your opening paragraph lede last November, “Oddly, the Boston Red Sox outbid everyone else for Pablo Sandoval.”
It turns out that the lineup card Bruce Bochy has been submitting to umpires this month is far different from the team he led to 88 wins during the regular season. It’s much, much better and to the benefit of astute handicappers, the difference seems to have escaped not only commentators but oddsmakers as well.