Tuesday, June 01, 2004

And Even The Schedule Maker Is Against Us

Looking at the Twins and White Sox's schedule this year, one thing jumps out - the Sox play a harder schedule than the Twinkies. You might think that, since they play in the same division, they would have the same schedules. But they don't - the Twinkies have what can only be described as a 1-2 game easier schedule than the White Sox this year.

Both teams have 19 games each against division opponents - that's a wash (76 of the 162 games). But that's where the similarities end.

The White Sox play 7 games versus the Yankees, the Twins 6
The White Sox play 7 games versus Toronto, the Twins 6
The White Sox play 6 games versus Tampa Bay, the Twins 9 -- 9 games!!
The White Sox play 6 games versus Baltimore, the Twins 9

The White Sox play 9 games versus Oakland, the Twins play 7
The White Sox play 9 games versus Texas, the Twins play 7

The White Sox play 6 games versus the Cubs, the Twinkies play 6 versus the Brewers ("rivalry games")
The White Sox play 3 games versus Atlanta and Florida....the Twins play 3 against the Mets and Diamondbacks.

Using Clay Davenport's 3rd-order adjusted winning percentage, we can see how the schedules differ this year. I multiplied the third order winning percentage for each opponent times the number of games per team and added the numbers up for the White Sox and Twins. For the games they play against each other, I assume 9.5 wins each (essentially, playing .500 against each other).

White Sox schedule expected wins: 83.5
Twins schedule expected wins: 84.4

OK, so that's only 1 more win for the Twinkies. But that doesn't even take into account that the Orioles will have faded dramatically by the time the Twinkies fade them, or that the Sox have to play 6 on the road versus Oakland. The Twinkies even get 6 of their 9 against Tampa Bay at home. Put a lot of these micro-factors together and I'm sure it's another game to be added to the win column for the Twins.

If the Twinkies really do get a 2-game advantage from the schedule maker, that's a huge advantage. Races are often won or lost on such advantages - just ask the Astros last year.

Yes, my Twins-obsession is annoying, but until we beat them and beat them soundly and the White Sox are in first place on October 3rd, there's no reason to let up.

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