Daily Notes: Ft. A Playoff Adjustment for NERD Game Scores

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. A Playoff Adjustment for NERD Game Scores
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

A Playoff Adjustment for NERD Game Scores
The ongoing concern of the author — and the concern, probably, of at least one reader — is, each day, to watch a baseball game which might be best described as “rich and compelling.” For much of the season, such games are defined largely by the quality of the pitching matchup in question. Young and hard-throwing and quick-working and (ultimately) effective starters: this is the order of the day. If those pitchers’ opponents are some combination of productive and powerful and swift-footed, so much the better.

With the advent of September, however, the concerns of the spectator change. If it weren’t the case before, it’s certainly a fact now, that only a minority of clubs are playing actual meaningful games — and, while one has no interest in abandoning entirely the aesthetic considerations of the game, it’s also true that the value of a game as a spectacle depends, to some degree, on the impression that one, if not both, clubs have a real stake in victory.

With a view towards representing this shift, the author has accordingly produced here a version of NERD — that is, the very proprietary and also infallible watchability score available daily in these Notes — has produced a version of NERD designed to reflect the influence of each team’s playoff odds on the watchability of their respective games.

Playoff-Adjusted Team NERD Scores: A Calculation
In calculating a playoff-adjusted Team NERD score, the author has taken for granted that teams which are closest to a 50% chance of qualifying for their league’s respective divisional series (50.0% DOFF) will inherently make for a more compelling spectacle.

To identify such teams, the author has started by finding the absolute value of (50.0% – DOFF%). Second, he’s subtracted that result from 50.0%. Third, he’s multiplied that result by 20, which puts the final result on a scale of 0-10.

So, for example, one finds that as of Monday, Tampa Bay had a 48.1% chance of making the ALDS. Accordingly, the calculation goes as follows:

1. abs(50.0% – 48.1%) = 1.9%.

2. 50.0% – 1.9% = 48.1%.

3. 48.1% * 20 = 9.6, rounded up to 10.

And here’s the calculation for Texas as of Monday:

1. abs(50.0% – 74.80%) = 24.8%

2. 50.0% – 24.8% = 25.2%

3. 25.2% * 20 = 5.0, rounded to 5.

It’s the effect of this methodology to reduce most teams’ NERD scores to zero, or near zero, a result which seems perhaps severe, but which also serves to reflect the actual urgency with which each team forced to play its September games.

Playoff-Adjusted NERD Game Scores: A Calculation
For reasons noted above, NERD Game Scores typically weight each game’s starting pitchers much more heavily than the respective teams to which each belongs — by a factor of three, precisely. The playoff-adjusted NERD Game Scores further down in this post have been calculated in precisely the opposite manner — that is, by weighing the Team NERD scores three times as heavily as the respective Pitcher NERD scores. The effect of this appears largely to deflate the attendant Game Scores of teams whose playoff odds are closer to 100% or 0%, rather than inflate the scores of those teams in playoff contention.

Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
Baltimore at Cleveland | 19:05 ET
Chris Tillman (167.0 IP, 99 xFIP-, 1.5 WAR) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (141.1 IP, 101 xFIP-, 1.4 WAR).

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Cleveland Radio.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire.

Note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Chris Tillman BAL 5 1 2 1 4 CLE Ubaldo Jimenez 19:05
Chris Sale CHA 10 0 2 1 5 NYA Hiroki Kuroda 19:05
Gio Gonzalez WAS 7 1 2 0 6 PHI Ethan Martin 19:05
Max Scherzer DET 9 0 2 1 4 BOS Jon Lester 19:10
Carlos Torres NYN 7 0 2 0 7 ATL Kris Medlen 19:10
Michael Wacha STL 10 6 8 10 9 CIN Homer Bailey 19:10
Tom Koehler MIA 4 0 1 0 5 CHN Edwin Jackson 20:05
Undecided MIN 5 0 1 0 2 HOU Jarred Cosart 20:10
Gerrit Cole PIT 10 4 3 0 3 MIL Yovani Gallardo 20:10
Erasmo Ramirez SEA 7 0 1 0 2 KC Bruce Chen 20:10
Ricky Nolasco LAN 6 0 1 0 5 COL Jhoulys Chacin 20:40
Todd Redmond TOR 5 0 1 0 6 AZ Wade Miley 21:40
Matt Moore TB 5 10 5 0 3 LAA Jason Vargas 22:05
Martin Perez TEX 7 5 6 7 4 OAK Bartolo Colon 22:05
Ma. Bumgarner SF 7 0 1 0 4 SD Robbie Erlin 22:10

To learn how Pitcher and Team NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

13 Responses to “Daily Notes: Ft. A Playoff Adjustment for NERD Game Scores”

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  1. Spencer says:

    I’m not sure what, but something seems to have gone horribly wrong with today’s NERD game scores.

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  2. ScottW says:

    Carson – why did you decide to use the % chance of making Divisional Series, as opposed to that of winning the division outright? The Reds are a virtual lock to finish in the wild card spot and have a 10 NERD score, while OAK and TX have scores of 5 and 7, respectively. IMLHOTY (in my less hunble opinion than yours), the two latter teams are much more interesting at this stage in the season. Just curious as to your rationale here.

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    • ScottW says:

      (or should it be more humble, rather, since your opinion is vastly more respected than mine)

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    • My only critique of your comment is that you take for granted that I used reason at all. Otherwise, it (i.e. your comment) has considerable merit. I will investigate the matter before tomorrow’s edition of These Here Notes.

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      • RTG says:

        Since you’re doing all of the work, it would also be cool if there were some sort of multiplier effect when two teams with playoff dreams face each other.

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      • ScottW says:

        Actually, now that I put some thought into this myself, the formula should incorporate both the odds to win the division and the odds to win the wild card, since each of these are kinda exciting by themselves. That said, the wild card as a consolation prize for losing a close division battle is not incrementally exciting, so we need to make sure that the NERDs are not duplicative in this regard. So I propose the following formula (based on your excellent work).

        A = the lesser of x) abs(50.0% – PO%) and y) abs(50.0% – DIV%)

        B = 50.0% – A

        September Team NERD = B * 20, then rounded to nearest integer value

        PO% = the % chance of making the playoffs, and
        DIV% = the % chance of winning the division

        So if a team has a 40% chance of winning the division and a 40% chance of making the wildcard, then the divisional race is inherently more important since there is an 80% chance of making the playoffs – this gets you to a NERD of 8. Likewise, if a team has a 20% chance of the division and a 40% chance of a wildcard, then you use the fact that the team has a 60% chance of making the playoffs, also getting you to a NERD of 8.

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  3. Double J says:

    It always amuses when “Undecided” for a team that isn’t known for having good pitchers gets the default 5 score. I would think some sort of weighted average of the team’s starting pitching would be used. Chances are an “Undecided” pitcher on the Rays or Cardinals will be a lot more interesting than whomever the Twins decide to put out on the bump this evening. (by the way, I love the term “on the bump”)

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    • mgraves says:

      It depends on what you find entertaining. If one were, for example, an Astros fan, and wanted to see what your team would look like if they didn’t strike out so much, then Twins “Undecided” could very well be entertaining (or at least, enlightening–and isn’t that entertaining in itself?).

      Anyhow, the Twins’ “Undecided” will likely be Pedro Hernandez, and he’s probably a “2” on the ol’ NERD score–so you are right.

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  4. Straw Man says:

    The Playoff NERD apparently asks: Does this team have a chance of winning the AL West or NL Central, or is this team Tampa Bay? If not, 0 or 1.

    Whatever the method is, the Yankees, Indians, and Orioles all should be higher than 1, if some formula were seriously to be created.

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  5. eddiegaedel says:

    Really like the idea of adjusting these scores to reflect playoff odds but not sure the results really match what you were going for. I think any team that is going to make the playoffs is somewhat exciting to watch because they are still trying to get home field advantage and it is fun to watch a team in September to get a feel for how they will play in October.

    Also, agree that Yankees, Indians, orioles should be higher than 1… Their slim odds to make the playoffs i would argue makes them more fun to watch because every game matters so much to them.

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  6. James says:

    Hmm I still plan to watch that worthless 2 of Max Scherzer vs. Jon Lester, even if it does not occur at the intersection of Rich and Compelling.

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  7. Ben Gburek says:

    I feel like we need a NERD adjustment that includes Kluber and Salazar so that Kluber and Salazar override all NERD scores making each of their games 25 NERD.

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