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.
The narrative that’s emerged, unanimously as far as I can tell, from the digital-based sportswriting set is that the Royals are a wonderful story – for the city of Kansas City, for those who love underdogs, for small-market teams, etc. – who have created the perfect post-season team. However, the narrative continues, despite a masterful combination of speed, defense, and an unhittable bullpen, the Royals are one of the worst teams to ever play in the World Series. They are, the thinking goes, in the midst of a heater all while residing in a bed of 4-leaf clovers, lucky charms, and horseshoes.