One Night Only: Game Previews for August 10th


Welcome to the NERD Lab.

NERD Lab!
Today, instead of reviewing one game, we’re going to spend some time in the NERD Lab. “Fun!” is the appropriate response to that.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous edition of One Night Only — or, in the comments section of a previous edition, at least — one thing that’s maybe less effective with the present iteration of NERD is that the playoff-odd adjustments are applied directly to Team NERD and not to the overall Game Scores. This isn’t really representative of what we’re trying to assess, I don’t think, because the playoff adjustment is an expression of context, and how that context might make a game more or less interesting. Meanwhile, the Team NERD scores are designed to be a measure of a team’s pure watchability.

Accordingly, I’ve submitted two versions of today’s games below: one with the playoff-odd adjustment in the Team NERD (as per usual) and one with a playoff-odds adjustment applied after the fact, to the Game Score directly.

The calculation for the playoff adjustment is both (a) boring and (b) assuredly more difficult than it needs to be.

1. Find playoff odds (ODDS) for all 30 teams.

2. For each team, if ODDS are less than 25%, do 25% – ODDS. If greater than 25%, do (25% – ODDS) / -3. This rewards teams that are closest to 25% — that is, basically where every team begins the season. We’ll call this number ODDS1. The teams closest to 25% will now have something close to 0. The teams closer to 100% or 0% will have closer to 25 — that is, the difference between their ODDS and 25 is greater. The Royals, for instance, have a 24.9 after this calculation; the Red Sox, 24.5; the Diamondbacks, 7.0; the Indians are lowest, at 3.3. Note that, if this were the first days of the season, basically every team would have a 0.

3. We’re going to be finding z-scores (standard deviations from the mean), so we need to invert the values of the ODDS1 numbers, such that teams with higher scores are more highly valued. We’ll call this ODDS2. The ODDS2 numbers for the above teams are as follow: Royals, 0.1; Red Sox, 0.5; Diamondbacks, 18.0; Indians, 21.7.

4. Find the z-scores for all the ODDS2 numbers. We’ll call this the playoff-odds adjustment, or POFF. In this case, the average ODDS2 number is 5.7. The standard deviation is 7.5. Were this opening day, the average would be much closer to 25 and the standard deviation would be much smaller. The scores for the above teams are as follows: Royals, -0.75; Red Sox, -0.69; Diamondbacks 1.65; Indians, 2.15. What I like about this is the spread it creates between the contending and non-contending teams.

5. For each game, add together the POFF numbers for each team. Then, add that number to the Game Score.

Also Playing
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.

As promised, here are today’s games using the usual method.


Away SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP Home Time
Vance Worley PHI 5 3 5 4 6 LAN Chad Billingsley 15:10
Jeff Karstens PIT 5 4 4 6 3 SF Jonathan Sanchez 15:45
Garrett Richards* LAA 10 9 8 6 5 NYA Ivan Nova 19:05
Philip Humber CHA 4 5 4 3 3 BAL Tommy Hunter* 19:05
Rick Porcello DET 5 5 6 9 7 CLE Ubaldo Jimenez 19:05
Gio Gonzalez OAK 7 2 7 4 10 TOR Henderson Alvarez* 19:07
Tim Hudson ATL 6 5 7 6 9 FL Anibal Sanchez 19:10
Kevin Millwood* COL 4 5 5 5 6 CIN Mike Leake 19:10
Felipe Paulino KC 9 7 5 5 1 TB Wade Davis 19:10
Aaron Harang SD 4 4 6 5 9 NYN R.A. Dickey 19:10
Jason Vargas SEA 3 1 5 7 7 TEX Derek Holland 20:05
Ross Detwiler* WAS 5 3 3 2 2 CHN Rodrigo Lopez 20:05
Jon Lester BOS 7 7 5 2 3 MIN Nick Blackburn 20:10
Randy Wolf MIL 2 7 4 7 4 STL Jake Westbrook 20:15
Undecided HOU 7 3 6 9 5 AZ Josh Collmenter 21:40

And here are today’s games, with the playoff-odds adjustment (POFF, in grey) added directly to the Game Score. Which is to say, the Game Scores you see here include the POFF adjustment. Notice, though, that the Team NERD scores are quite different from the ones above, as the Yankees go from 6 to 9; the Indians, from 9 to 6; the Cardinals, from 7 to 4, etc.


Away SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP Home POFF Time
Vance Worley PHI 5 3 4 4 6 LAN Chad Billingsley -1 15:10
Jeff Karstens PIT 5 6 5 3 3 SF Jo. Sanchez 1 15:45
Gar. Richards* LAA 10 5 9 9 5 NYA Ivan Nova 1 19:05
Philip Humber CHA 4 1 3 2 3 BAL Tommy Hunter* 0 19:05
Rick Porcello DET 5 2 9 6 7 CLE Ubaldo Jimenez 3 19:05
Gio Gonzalez OAK 7 1 6 6 10 TOR Hend. Alvarez* -1 19:07
Tim Hudson ATL 6 4 7 8 9 FL Anibal Sanchez -1 19:10
K. Millwood* COL 4 6 4 5 6 CIN Mike Leake -1 19:10
Felipe Paulino KC 9 10 4 6 1 TB Wade Davis -1 19:10
Aaron Harang SD 4 6 5 6 9 NYN R.A. Dickey -1 19:10
Jason Vargas SEA 3 0 5 8 7 TEX Derek Holland 0 20:05
Ross Detwiler* WAS 5 4 2 1 2 CHN Rodrigo Lopez -1 20:05
Jon Lester BOS 7 10 4 1 3 MIN Nick Blackburn -1 20:10
Randy Wolf MIL 2 8 6 4 4 STL Jake Westbrook 3 20:15
Undecided HOU 7 3 7 9 5 AZ Josh Collmenter 1 21:40

NERD represents an attempt to anticipate the watchability of a game for the baseballing enthusiast.
To learn more about Pitcher NERD, click here and scroll down a little.
To learn more about latest Team NERD, 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 occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


16 Responses to “One Night Only: Game Previews for August 10th”

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  1. SC2GG says:

    Henderson Alvarez should get an 11, anyone who can reach 101 should get an 11.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. MikeS says:

    Is “Undecided” automatically a 7 like 5 is the default for less than 20 IP and 10 is the default (I think) for an MLB debut?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • The small print reveals all: “Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.”

      But, yeah, generally. A reader last year made the case that an Undecided pitcher could be someone interesting. It could also be Aaron Harang — which, that’s actually who it is, turns out.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Would it be possible for NERD game scores to reflect two teams fighting for a common playoff spot? Making it so that a game like Tigres/Tribe is higher than Yanks/Halos?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. river-z says:

    The Yanks and Halos are each closer to first place & a playoff spot in their own divisions than the Indians are to the Tigers. By your own rational this game should be higher.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. J Hey says:

    I like the new method because it seems to give even more weight to playoff contenders.

    Also, you managed to make KC a 10 again which I know you love.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. joeiq says:

    I can tell that isn’t a real “lab” probably a lab for some tv show. It’s because the stuff in the tubes is blue. In reality they are always clear.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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