Sunday, March 30, 2014

Major League Baseball (MLB) Inter-league 2014 Recap

I was wrong picking Kansas City over San Fran in the World Series, but I remain convinced that KC as the superior team would win about 540 out of 1,000 matches against SF. KC defeated SF in 6 out of 10 matches this year outscoring 43-36 in total runs. It just happens that SF put together a lucky 4-out-of-7 sequence to win the Series. 

The American League (AL) representative has won 18 of the past 31 World Series, but the. National League (NL) has won 4 of the past 5 in a run of luck for the inferior league. 

Through the regular season and including the All-Star game and World Series, AL teams finished 167-141 vs. NL teams -- or 54.2% for 2014 just below the 54.6% average over the last 11 years of AL dominanceThe AL is the superior league by far and has been for more than a decade. 

The AL has now recorded 11 consecutive triumphs in annual inter-league contests. The only positive sign for the NL is that the AL's 53% average from 2010 to 2014 is below the 55.9% average from 2004 through 2009.

There's more to AL superiority than just the Yankees and Red Sox financial advantage. Case in point -- this year  the Yankees and Red Sox are still making money and paying big contracts, but both are below-AL-average on the field, yet the AL is still winning the inter-league race.

The AL has also won 14 of the last 17 all-star games to reach a decision and 20 of the last 26. 

The AL dominates despite dearest Archibald's beloved Toronto Blue Jays whose management theme song is: "If I only had a brain."

Until mid-September, the BJays had a remote chance of making the playoffs in 2014 for the 1st time since winning the 1993 World Series. I remained skeptical throughout the BJays' Jeckyll and Hyde performance this year. Here are the BJays' win-loss streaks over the full season:

Bill James taught us that the longer a hot streak lasts, the more likely the team is truly good. 25-7 was a pretty impressive hot streak. But, 11-24 was an almost as impressive cold streak. The longer a cold streak lasts, the more likely the team is truly bad. 

The BJays finished 3rd in the AL East and 9th out of 15 in the AL at 83-79 = 38-43 in the 2nd half + 45-36 in the 1st half (when they were on track to win 90 games and a certain playoff spot). 

Finishing the year with three minor-leaguers in their line-up of batsmen (to borrow a cricket term from my native England), the BJays need to find some better players to do better in 2015. Trading useful platoon hitter Adam Lind to Milwaukee for batting-practice pitcher Estrada is a step backward. Trading career substitute centre-fielder Gose for the Tigers' top minor league 2nd base prospect might work out although respected analyst Keith Law doesn't think much of the return. Signing 32-year-old Russell Martin for $82 million until he's 36 is another case of throwing good money after bad. I expect to see Houston, Chicago Cubs, NY Mets and Florida Marlins to all make the playoffs before Toronto. The next Toronto management crew will have a horrendous mess to clean up.

The BJays' most impressive win in 2015 was defeating Tiger bowler (to borrow another cricketing term) Justin Verlander in Detroit. Official Godiva toy boy/fiancĂ© Archibald tells me that Verlander's girlfriend is Kate Hudson, a swimmer who wins an important swim race every year and ends up on the cover of Sports Illustrated (SI) as a result. Arch is such a huge sports fan that he even follows swimming and buys that particular SI issue each and every year. Arch's interest in swimming must have something to do with the dearth of sports in February after the Super Bowl. Most recently, dearest Archibald has taken an avid interest in viewing the Apple cloud photos posted by his favourite swim stars from that annual SI issue. He certainly can't get enough of competitive swimming photos.

On a sad note, Archibald and I are sorry to see closing down. put together a great site applying the "wisdom of crowds" idea to picking sporting contests. Maybe there is an academic institution somewhere with an interest in conducting low-cost experiments on the "wisdom of crowds" concept. If so, contact Cassius.

Monday, March 17, 2014

NCAA March Madness 2014 ATS Recap

After losing all 3 Final 4 matches, I finished 36-27-4 against the point spread (ATS) good for 14th in my local pool.

Official Godiva toy boy fiancé Archibald can't get enough roundball. Every year he organizes a friendly, non-profit office pool for the NCAA men's tourney.

Instead of picking bracket winners, players in his pool pick winners ATS each and every day as the tournament unfolds. The winner of his winner-take-all pool is the contestant who picks the most winners against the spread over 67 matches including the play-in games. All matches are weighted equally.

To humour Archibald, I participate by relying on economists' studies showing that "heavy" underdogs win more than their fair share of college basketball games against the point spread, while "non-heavy" overdogs win slightly more than 50% (although this particular result is not statistically significant).

Over 7 years since 2008 of swimming naked (of roundball knowledge) in Archibald's pool, I am just barely ahead at 226-223-11.

Just by picking all overdog favourites in every NCAA tournament game for the past 7 years, you would be sporting a 233-216-11 or 52% record ATS. I tried something different the past 2 years by going with Cincinatti Professor Michael Magazine's tip that his statistical model shows No. 11 seeds as underseeded by the selectors and undervalued by oddsmakers and bettors. The No. 11 seed approach failed in 2013 but worked this year. And, I took a flyer on some No. 12 seeds on the grounds that they have won 35% of 1st round matches straight-up and that another 15%+ on points might be doable over the long run.

Lady G vs. Baracketer-in-Chief
President Obama picks winners straight-up with no point line for each bracket and round.

The President got UNC right as the 2009 winner. After a tough time in 2010 and 2011 with none of his final 4 picks coming through, he correctly picked 5 of the elite 8 in 2013 and 2014 as well as 6 of 8 in 2012. Not too shabby, but this year he only got 1 of the final 4 right.

When he picks upsets in the early rounds, I can identify games where Lady Godiva and the Baracketer-in-Chief disagree. In Obama's first 6 years in office, I am 16-26-1 womano-a-mano against the Baracketer including 1-0-1 this year.

Speaking of mano-a-womano, kudos to the President for also picking the women's NCAA brackets.