Maybe Nate Silver can predict the success or failure of a baseball team, but can he predict how many times they’ll head to extra innings? Well, probably, but he’s not the only one. From the Albany Times Union, a senior at Russell Sage College has published a study predicting certain events in baseball games. It has won Rebecca Gregory a place at the Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin in April.
For those who don’t have a degree in mathematics:
The purpose of this research was to apply probability theory to determine if the 2008 New York Mets and New York Yankees baseball teams followed the same scoring patterns that other baseball teams have historically done…In addition to analyzing the 2008 New York Mets and New York Yankees scoring patterns, this paper extends the research by Glass & Lowry to include the probability that an average game would require extra innings…This research concludes that the 2008 New York Mets and New York Yankees had scoring patterns that:…were similar to the historical scoring patterns of the average major league baseball team.”
The rest talks about quasigeometric distributions, so I was lost before I even started. I did Google it, though every single result is a reference to “Quasigeometric Distributions and Extra Inning Baseball Games,” which is the work cited and elaborated on by Gregory.
I haven’t seen the whole study, but here are some highlights, from the Times Union article:
The bottom line is that Gregory determined that a baseball team, in theory, has an 11.5 percent chance of scoring two runs during a game. When analyzing the data for the 2008 Mets, she found the team scored two runs 11.9 percent of the time. The Yankees score was a much smaller percentage.
She also determined that, theoretically, 10.2 percent of Major League games should reach extra innings. But in reality 9.2 percent of all baseball games went into extra innings. And there was more, having to do with the odds of getting a first and second run.