Team Win Values

With the off-season in a holding pattern, let’s spend a little more time talking win values, shall we?

One of the questions that came up in a thread last week was how well team win values match up with actual wins. So, I wanted to spend some time on that issue. The first thing to remember is that our win values are context neutral, so we are not attempting to account for the distribution of runs in regards to the value of the situation. In the win value system, a run in the 3rd inning of a 10-0 beatdown is the same as a 9th inning walkoff that decides the winner. Because we’re presenting context neutral wins, teams that have a run scoring distribution skewed towards higher leverage situations will win more games than win values would suggest.

The Angels are the best example of this. Last year, they accumulated 17.2 wins from their position players and 22.0 wins from their pitchers for a total of +39.2 marginal wins. With our replacement level set at .28852 (or just round to .289) for ’08, that makes the Angels an 85.94 win team according to our system. Basically, we think they earned 86 context neutral wins last year. They actually won 100 games – 14 more than their win values would have suggested. Why? They were the Kings of Clutch, performing drastically better in situations that mattered than they did when the game wasn’t on the line.

If you’re familiar with the concept of Pythag Win%, you’ve seen this phenomenon before. Because there’s little to no evidence that the distribution of run scoring is a repeatable skill, we’re not including it in our win values, and will match up with pythag wins better than it will with actual wins. This is born out by the correlations of each.

Win Values to Pythag: .90
Win Values to Wins: .85

Win Values correlates very well with both pythag wins and actual wins, but better with pythag because of the run distribution issue that we talked about above. Clearly, though, our system of rating players is adding up very well at the team level, even without considering the context of when runs are scored.

This evening, we’ll take a look at the differences between win value projections and pythag expectations and explore why two projected win totals both based on runs scored and allowed would diverge.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

4 Responses to “Team Win Values”

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  1. Derek Rabideau says:

    If the Angels were “Kings of Clutch”, why didn’t they win in the playoffs when it mattered most? I think they were just a luckier team then most.

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    • BJ says:

      Clutch is not a repeatable skill, so just because over the course of the season they were very clutch does not mean you would expect the same in the postseason. In this way, yes calling them the Kings of Clutch is like calling them lucky, as they got heir production when it mattered, in high leverage situations.

      The Angels were randomly good at being clutch over the season, this does not mean they have some skill that allows them to be clutch.

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  2. Ken says:

    Dave,

    Why do teams have such differing positional values? Shouldn’t these be about the same?

    Ken

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  3. Xeifrank says:

    Out of curiousity, what is the standard deviation of the pthag win%. If the pythag win percentages of the 30 teams is a normal distribution, wouldn’t we expect one outlier like the Angels this year and the DBacks last year, just based on the physical traits of a normal distribution? Not disagreeing with anything you are saying, but trying to put this in context.
    vr, Xeifrank

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