Monday, May 24, 2004

More On The Twinkies' Luck, 2001-2004

I had this e-mail exchange with Aaron Stigberg and Doug Gribben on the White Sox List:

----- Original Message -----
Doug Gribben
Saturday, May 22, 2004 12:52 PM
[WHITESOX] Twins outscored so far

The Twins have actually been outscored by their opponents by 8 runs so far this year.

That is not a hallmark of a winning team. For them to be +7 is pure luck.


Aaron Stigberg
Saturday, May 22, 2004 2:03 PM
Re: [WHITESOX] Twins outscored so far

Oh come on Doug. Exclude the last two drubbings at the hands of our
'Hose and their run differential is +5. Besides, Pythagorean W-L hasn't
worked for the Twins the last several years, and IMO it's not luck.
Call me a romantic, but teams win close games consistently because
they're good and well-managed, not lucky.

Doug Gribben
Saturday, May 22, 2004 2:28 PM
Re: [WHITESOX] Twins outscored so far

Pyth has failed by degree. Last year they outscored their opposition
by 43 runs. The year before by 56. The year before by 5. They managed
to pick up an extra 17 games over three years against the estimate, or one
game in 30.

I believe that management can make teams win more games than they should,
but not some bizarre number.

The 2004 Twins were NINE games over .500 in 39 games with a five run
difference before this series. Even they can't sustain that sort of
difference, which was +7 games over what even they have historically


Chris Winters
Monday, May 24, 2004 12:40 AM
Re: [WHITESOX] Twins outscored so far

I'm with you on this, GRBI. Stigberg and I have had a back and forth on
this, and I think it's luck. Go to my blog and I count 22 occasions since
2001 when the Twinkies have rallied in the 9th inning (not counting 8th
inning rallies) to win games since 2001 vs. 12 for the Sox.

You might think their bullpen is the reason why, but their bullpen hasn't
been much better than the White Sox's over the last four years. Checking
the splits on ESPN, and you get this:

YearTwinks Bullpen ERASox Bullpen ERA

Even in their best bullpen year - 2002 - the Twinkies didn't have that much
better of a bullpen than the White Sox - yet they cleaned the Sox's clock in
the standings. Even last year, the 0.29 difference really is only a run
every 10 games or so...might have been a 1-2 game difference in the
standings. But that can't make up the difference between the Twinkies'
actual and pythagorean winning percentage. In addition, I think that the
adjustedEQR for and against for the Twinkies actually dictated even worse


Doug Gribben
2004/05/24 Mon PM 12:42:47 GMT
Re: [WHITESOX] Twins outscored so far

My theory is that all the sabermetrics assume you are playing a game called
"baseball", not whatever that weird game they play in that f*****-up
wonderland in that building in Minnesota is called.

Seriously, the Twins are very, very good at everything the statistics
don't measure. It's shrewd as hell. By building a team that is good at things
that stats don't measure, they get the team cheaper because the player's
arbitration cases aren't as good. It's another form of "Moneyball".

But it's only been successful because the Twins have not been seriously
challenged. A bunch of earnest, slightly-above average kids from Lake
Wobegon can edge the White Sox every time -- when the White Sox aren't
playing to win.

We'll see if things are really different this year. I think they are because
Mr I Don't Really Care If I Win Or Not is gone, and .200 hitters won't be
allowed to decide games with .317 hitters on the bench "resting" now. But
there are 119 games left to screw up.


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