In chess, when players play each other for their championship, they either win, lose, or stalemate, which is a tie for those not into chess. And points are awarded (much like hockey too, I just realized) thusly: +1 for a win, +0.5 for a stalemate, and 0 for a loss. I will do that for each playoff series and see how each series ends in terms of who won vs. who won on PQS, and cover all the playoff series in a season.
It is pretty simple. There are three types of starts: DOM, DIS or other, which never got a name but I'm going to call it MID. And DOM beats MID and MID beats DIS, and if they are the same, then it is a draw, a stalemate. The rationale here is that each type of start is mostly random, thus leading to a draw, a coin-flip on who wins, but it is pretty clear that the majority of the time, the relationships of DOM > MID > DIS will hold. Summing up the points per the matrix, each team will get what I will call their PQS Score, with the idea of looking to see if teams that have the winning PQS Score typically wins, and once I get enough data, I can do a correlation between winning a series and winning the PQS Score.
Here is the table:
I have no idea what I will find, though obviously, I hope to find that PQS does rule in the playoffs as I've been postulating for a while. What I hope to see is that teams with the better PQS score, per my matrix above, What I am more hoping is that it will be interesting in some way.
I don't have the time to dig through every series first and then write on it, so this is intended to be a series of posts, depending on time, inclination, and what I find. I am covering 2011 and 2010 in this post.
In the seven series the team with the highest PQS Wins won once and lost 3 times; there were 3 ties. So that is not a good start for this metric I am testing out. In terms of average PQS for the series, the team with the highest average PQS won 3 times, lost 4 times; for teams averaging at least 1 PQS higher than the other team, only 1 of the higher teams won, out of 4. By these two metrics, high PQS is a poor indicator of success in the playoffs.
However, on a game by game basis, a clearer advantage appears. In games where one pitcher is expected to win (per the matrix I devised above), the team expected to win (or e-win) had a record of 18-6. When there were ties, the teams were obviously .500 overall, and there were 14 ties.
Furthermore, in games where the pitchers had a DOM start, they were 21-8 (.724 winning percentage). And four of those losses were guaranteed because both pitchers had a DOM start. Taking out those tie games leaves the overall record at 17-4 (.810 winning percentage) when a DOM start was countered with a non-DOM start.
Given the overall 38% DOM and 38% DIS starts, there were a whole lot of mediocre to bad starts in the 2011 playoffs. Dominance was no guarantee, either: the Phillies had 5 DOM starts and yet lost to the Cards. And the Tigers had 4 DOM starts while the Rangers had none, yet the Rangers won their series.
I think what lessons to be gleaned are these:
- DOM starts are no panacea, but,
- DOM rules to the tune of around .750 winning percentage for this playoff, and
- In any case, the bullpen can help a team win a lot of games you have no business winning, based on the PQS starts performance, as evidenced by the Cards and Rangers making the World Series despite bad starting pitching.
- a manager willing to pull the starter out before the game got away, and yet keep the starters happy enough to still pitch well for the manager,
- a bullpen good enough to both shut down the opposition, as well as do that for 6-9 innings, plus a manager who can mix and match relievers to enable that long stretch of a shutdown, and
- an offense capable enough to catch up and take the lead.