Thursday, August 14, 2008

Most Interesting Games

Rob Neyer (my favorite ESPN columnist) posted a blog entry (ESPN insider required, sorry) about computing the most interesting baseball games to watch, if you disregard any allegiances, interests in individual players, or starting pitching matchups. We're talking solely about which are the most interesting teams to watch play each other.

He creates his formula by using the number of games out of a playoff spot for each team, with a bonus (divide by 2) if the two teams play in the same division, but only if both don't stink (at least 5% chance of making the playoffs). This was an interesting idea, but I found it lacking in a few areas.
  • Teams that are so far ahead in their division are less interesting than those in tight races. (See Angels)
  • Teams in wild-card races are less interesting than teams in division races.
  • Good teams outside the division should rank higher than mediocre teams in division.
Here's my attempt:
  • Each team starts with 10 points.
  • Division leaders add half of the games ahead they are (Angels add 7.5; Rays add 1.5).
  • Teams closer in the division race than the wildcard add the total games back (Twins add 0.5; Braves add 9).
  • Teams closer in the wildcard race add the average of wildcard and division games back (Yankees add 6.5, Cardinals add 5.75).
  • Teams then subtract 50 times how much over .500 a team is (.600 = 5 points off, .500 = 0, .400 = 5 points ADDED)
  • Division foes get another 5 points off the game score.
  • Lowest score is the best game.
So, for the games on Wednesday, here are the three best and worst games:
17.9 : PHI(64-56) vs LAD(61-59)
23.6 : MIN(67-53) vs NYY(64-57)
24.0 : STL(67-56) vs FLA(63-58)

48.3 : SEA(46-74) vs LAA(75-44)
49.9 : BAL(57-62) vs CLE(54-65)
55.2 : CIN(53-68) vs PIT(55-65)

And here are the top 10 possible games (not counting interleague), given the standings at the beginning of the day Thursday:

8.8 : TAM(72-47) vs BOS(70-51)
9.2 : CHC(73-47) vs MIL(70-51)
11.7 : NYM(64-56) vs PHI(64-56)
13.3 : TAM(72-47) vs CWS(67-52)
13.8 : NYM(64-56) vs FLA(63-58)
14.7 : BOS(70-51) vs CWS(67-52)
14.8 : CHC(73-47) vs STL(67-56)
16.2 : NYM(64-56) vs MIL(70-51)
17.3 : TAM(72-47) vs NYY(64-57)
17.9 : NYM(64-56) vs ARI(61-59)

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