2010 Pythagorean Wins with BaseRuns

2011 update: Download here: Google Docs / Dropbox

Matthew Carruth made some excellent points in today’s Fangraphs article about using BaseRuns as a “sanity check” for a team’s performance at this point in the season.

The theory is that you can break runs scored and allowed into their components and remove some of the “noise” in projecting wins based on run scoring.  BaseRuns is probably my favorite run estimator because it ties closely to actual run scoring even in very high and very low run environments (i.e. college baseball or the MLB dead-ball era).

I wasn’t able to duplicate Matthew’s numbers exactly, so I’ll be up front about the formulas I used in case anyone wants to correct my work:

BaseRuns formula (with the “calibration” mentioned)
I used the second version (with SB/CS) for hitting and the third for pitching
Pythagorean Wins formula (with the “more accurate” 1.83 exponent)

Download the regular Excel version here.  The stats will update daily via Fangraphs, and the standings will do the same via Baseball Reference.  I didn’t make a regular Google Docs version because the web queries wouldn’t work right.

What you’ll notice on the “summary” tab is that the teams are sorted from “luckiest” to “unluckiest.”  Let me be quick to say that this is a rough estimate, so take any notions of “luck” with a grain of salt.

Based on their hitting and pitching components, though, we would say that the Rays have been the “luckiest” MLB team, and that they would finish with a record more like 100-62 (including the games they’ve already played) if they play at their current level the rest of the year.  The Orioles, perhaps unsurprisingly, are playing four games below their current BaseRuns expectation.

Braves fans may notice that the pitching staff has looked a little better from a BaseRuns perspective (83 BsR allowed, 91 actual), but good pitching can only do so much, as has been evident over the last eight days.

If you have any questions about what I did or a suggestion for how to improve it, drop me a line in the comments.


20 thoughts on “2010 Pythagorean Wins with BaseRuns

  1. This is only marginally related, but I thought I’d mention it anyway—It’s pretty distressing to me that the Braves are apparently the worst team in the history of baseball.

    Not that I’m given to hyperbole or anything.

  2. Of course not. One can be forgiven for a possible overreaction when discussing a team that seems not to react to anything.

    I’m reading too much today about the Braves and Orioles being in last place in their respective leagues and how that brings back memories of 1988. I’d rather not be four again, thank you; eleven would be better.

  3. Oh, and not that this really helps, but I was in attendance for the Jimenez no-no, and the Braves haven’t scored more than four runs in a game since the previous night. That will be two weeks ago tomorrow.

  4. So this spreadsheet automatically updates? Wow, I feel like such a lightweight in my knowledge of Excel-Fu. This is very helpful, thanks for this.

  5. Indeed it does, or at least we’ll see if it does in the morning. I’ve had decent luck with Excel’s refreshable web queries as long as the sites don’t change too much (don’t go changing anything at Fangraphs, ok?).

  6. It doesn’t seem to work for me.


    Could this have anything to do with the fact that I’m trying to open it on a Mac? I would have thought there wouldn’t be an issue, but then again, this wouldn’t be the first time that the unholy union of Microsoft and Apple spawned some abomination of a glitch.

  7. Just to clarify: Everything broke for me because on the ‘batting BsR ‘ and ‘pitching BsR’ sheets, the table of data got thrown down to rows 92-122 (for batting) and 83-113 (for pitching). But the BsR and BsR w/B’ columns stayed at the top of the page, where I’m guessing you meant for them to be based on the vlookup references on the ‘pyth’ sheet.

    Anyway, I don’t expect you to spend your weekend troubleshooting why I can’t open the file or anything. I just wanted to let you know what was up in case anybody else runs into the same problem.

  8. Still works for me today, automatic updates and all. Maybe check your Excel settings to see if it enables/disables automatic refresh of web queries by default? In Excel ’03 for XP, I get a prompt each time asking me if I want to enable or disable it.

  9. It would help if I had read the second comment first, probably.

    In “External Data Range Properties,” it asks what to do if the number of rows changes upon refresh, and I have the radio button selected for “overwrite existing cells with new data, clear unused cells,” so that hopefully it wouldn’t do something like that (and it works for me). That shouldn’t be a problem, since it’s not like MLB is adding or subtracting teams during the year.

    Let me know what version you have, and I don’t mind looking up to see if there’s an issue with web queries across operating systems.

  10. I guess I can be more specific: What it looks like it’s doing is taking a bunch of header information and cramming it vertically above the table of the teams. Here’s a screenshot of how the top of the page comes out:

    For what it’s worth, the actual data DOES seem to be updating correctly, it’s just that it’s way down the page so it wrecks the formulas. Obviously I could fiddle around with where things are to probably fix it, but I’m guessing a lot of other people might not want to do that.

    I have Excel 2008 (for Mac) Version 12.0, if that helps. I really hope I can get this to work. It looks pretty awesome, by the way.

  11. I see what you mean. Take a look at this:

    When I go to Data > Import External Data > Edit Query, it pops up a box like the one in the image, allowing me to select the table I want to use. You can see that I’ve checked off the data table at the bottom, but your screenshot seems to indicate that it’s pulling the entire page in the Mac version.

    Can you go into that screen on your version and see what it looks like? Maybe there’s something I can do on my end to make it compatible across platforms. Otherwise, any Mac users may have to work around it using the “Edit Query” box.

  12. Yeah…I get this:

    Isn’t that a daisy.

    By the way, the ‘standings’ sheet may also be behaving badly, because the AL and NL come out side-by-side, which seems like it may not have been what you wanted.

    I’ll post a workaround for Mac users in a new comment.

  13. Okay, nevermind. I fixed the #N/A’s, but something’s still definitely not working right.

    Just out of curiosity, what’s supposed to go in Column V of the batting BsR sheet and in Column W of the pitching BsR sheet? It seems like there ought to be something there (like maybe “A” from the BaseRuns formula), but I’m getting a blank column there when I download the file. I’m wondering if maybe the Mac glitches are more than just in the web queries. That doesn’t make any sense, but who knows.

  14. “Web queries cannot be edited,” seriously?

    Column V on the batting sheet is supposed to be “A” from the BaseRuns formula, as you suspected. Perhaps it’s an issue with hidden columns, since I hid the BsR components to make the sheet look a little cleaner. It works fine for me in Windows, as does the vertical alignment of the standings tab.

    I’m actually kind of shocked that Excel is incompatible across platforms when MS has gone to the effort to release it for OS X. Sounds like it’s going to be tough to get a Mac workaround.

    Try this:


    That’s an Excel 2007 version of the file. Perhaps it will play nicer with a Mac?

  15. No luck on the 2007 file. I wonder if maybe when the web query botches the data table, it’s also overwriting the “A” column with blank cells.

    Oh well. Don’t worry about it. Sad times for us Mac people, because I’m sure this stuff is going to be really insightful to keep up with as the season goes along.

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