Go Israel!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:01
Mar 082017

After beating host Korea 2-1 in 10 innings, Israel all but assured their entry into the second round with a 15-7 win over Chinese Taipei. And with Netherlands 5-0 win over Korea, Korea is in danger of not advancing for the first time (in 4 WBC). For Korea to advance now, Israel has to beat Norway and Taipei has to beat Norway also (with, of course, Korea beating Taipei). Weirder things have happened, but this has to be even more odds-against than Israel winning two games in the first place. and for Israel to fail to advance, Israel, Norway and Taipei all have to be 2-1 (all beating Korea), and Israel’s loss to Norway and Taipei’s win over Norway have to be so large as to wipe out their runs-differential over Taipei, currently at +17. So welcome to the second round, Israel!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: my final post of 2016 should probably echo this spring: I don’t KNOW that the Baby Bombers will actually be good: young players can break your heart. But it is MUCH more exciting to have an unknown team than a known one, unless the known one is like the Cubs (young AND proven) or includes a not-old player (Kershaw?) who is so good that he is chasing history.

Kershaw has 126 career wins, and is entering his age-29 season. Is he on pace to be a 300-game winner, in an era in which that is deemed essentially impossible? I would say it’s still odds-against, but then again so is he. His injury last season, limiting him to 12 wins, damages the Bill James estimation tool, since he still needs 174 wins and his current “rate” is only 15 wins per year (calculation: 3 x current + 2 x prior + previous all divided by 6) which means that he needs 11.73 more years. Bill James gives him only 6.6 more seasons (24 – .6 x age) so his “expected” wins is only 15 x 6.6 = 99, or 225 for his career. The formula for Kershaw’s 300 win chance is (99 – 174/2)/174 = 12/174 = 7%. If you think this is low, then so do I, but remember that he won only 12 games last year: the system doesn’t take into consideration injuries or rather it does: it counts them exactly like bad years!

Doing the same calculation for Kershaw LAST year, he had 114 wins, was 28, and had an established win rate of 17.66. Thus his expected future wins was 127 (instead of 99) and his chances for 300 wins were 127 – 186/2)/186 = 44/186 =24%. THAT seems more reasonable, but it ALSO seems reasonable that getting only 12 wins in your age-28 season has to hurt your chances. How much he bounces back this year, assuming he remains healthy and dominant, will determine how much progress he makes toward the goal. Just to bore you with more numbers, let’s assume that Kershaw wins 20 in 2017 (note: that would be only his third 20-win season ever). This makes his established win rate 18.33, his needed wins 154 and his years remaining 6, so the formula becomes (110 – 154/2)/154 = 33/154 = 21%. 300 wins is a tough goal!

I love playing with this system, but it is important to note that it estimates the chances that a great player will achieve a hard (counting) goal. If you want to estimate the chances that Brett Gardner will get 1500 career hits (he has 950) I suppose the method would work, but it is not designed to do so. The problem is the “years remaining” calculation. The formula 24 – .6 x age is an approximation of how many more years a good player can expect to play. It puts a 33-year-old at 4.2 which is reasonable for a very good player, but not necessarily for an OK player. And remember that this 4.2 is FULL YEARS – we are assuming that he can be expected to get 4.2 x 144 more hits in his career.

Thus you can’t project the number of HRs that Gary Sanchez will his in his career: he has NO established HR rate, NOR do we know how long he’ll play. But if you want to do career hits for Miguel Cabrera, well there is some history there to make some kind of an educated guess.

Enough rambling. The USA plays its first WBC game on Friday, and plays defending champ Dominican Republic on Saturday. The Yankees continue to win spring games (they are a spring-best 10-3) and not only doesn’t that matter AT ALL: I did a study once on the correlation between spring wins and regular season wins (very close to zero) and also when the last spring wins leader won the world series (I couldn’t find a single instance) but winning is still more fun than losing, and most of the Yankees under the microscope are playing will this spring.

More tomorrow, with any luck at all.

2 Responses to “Go Israel!”

  1. Bob, I became a fan very young, back when the Senators played. My first game at RFK was for my birthday (don’t ask me which one). The home team was down 6-4 in the 9th when Tim Cullen, the soft-hitting 2nd baseman, hit his second home run of the year, a walk-off 3-run shot. Great way to introduce a young fan to the game.

    For a later birthday I watched Frank Howard hit home run #36 on his way to 48 for the year (back when that really meant something). The team used to paint the seats his home run balls hit – this was the one way up in the 2nd deck in center field.

    I used to listen to Senators games on the radio. I’d watch the game of the week on Saturdays, I even learned how to keep score as I watched. I rooted against the hated Orioles for years, until it was the only game in town and they had guys like Ripken, Murray, Mussina, etc.

    I waited 34 years for baseball to come back to DC. So of course the Nationals arrived the year after I moved to CO.

    • Good to hear from you! A die-hard Senators fan is a fan indeed. Which Senators, though? Were they the future Twins Senators, or the future Rangers Senators? Welcome aboard, by the way.

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