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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget

Updated: 2017-02-27T12:20:00-05:00


DRaysBay’s Ultimate Baseball Movie Championship: Field of Dreams vs. Bull Durham



It’s Costner vs. Costner, as if the finals could be anything else.

Our first semifinal was utterly predictable. Bull Durham continued its march through the tournament with another impressive win, this time knocking off Moneyball, 97-79. It was a steady, unspectacular win in which the Costner classic notched a small win in every day voting was open. To call this flick a juggernaut would be cliché.

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On the other side, however, The Sandlot vs. Field of Dreams matchup was interesting and a little bizarre. The Sandlot held a solid lead when I went to bed at the end of the first day of voting, with about half of the ultimate final number of vote count in. But strong performance from our overseas and/or late-night drunk voting contingent pushed Field of Dreams into the lead by the next morning. The pattern continued, with Sandlot performing well during daylight, and FoD reasserting itself in the overnight. The kids from the San Fernando Valley would never again manage to grab a lead, and the semifinal concluded with Field of Dreams in front 94-86. People came.

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So it’s Costner vs. Costner in the finals, as we always knew it would be. Which is the Ultimate Baseball Movie? Is Bull Durham a chick flick disguised as a baseball movie? Is Field of Dreams overrated, overly sentimental pablum for people with daddy issues? I’d like to suggest to you that the answer to both those questions can be yes, and either film can still handily be the Greatest of All Time. Because baseball doesn’t have a gender, and it is played by real people with real emotions. And because baseball (and life) is sentimental.

Pick any movie, and you can come up with people who will pick it to pieces (full disclosure: if you are watching a movie with me, I am one of those people). But here’s the thing: sometimes, we love people and things in spite of their flaws. Sometimes, after a period of time, we even begin to love their flaws. I think for me, both these movies have passed this test.

So who ya got? Personally, I’m going with the one that has Kevin Costner.

Rays’ 2017 playoff chances may ultimately come down to random chance


Random variance still takes place during the season, even in a 162 game schedule. The baseball season comes down to series of weighted coin flips. It might seem overly simplistic, but over a season the good teams win around 60 percent of their games (a 97.2 win pace), while the bad teams win around 40 percent of their games, a 64.8 win pace. Most teams lie somewhere in the middle, where the Rays are projected. Most projections that are currently out have the Rays winning between 81 and 85 games. The Rays are expected to be flipping a slightly weighted coin. 162 games is a lot, and sounds like it should remove a lot of the variance. It should reason that teams end up where they deserve. It is only nature to wonder why the Texas Rangers won 95 games despite having a run differential of +8, which equates to an 82-win rate by pythagorean win percentage. On the other side of the coin, the Rays won 68 games while having a run differential of -41, which would equate to a 77-win season by pythagorean win percentage. The Rangers over-performed by 13 wins and the Rays under-performed by nine wins. There are factors outside of luck, to be sure, but to not recognize as most of the difference not come from luck would be disingenuous. Coin Flipping For this exercise I’m going to take a fictional team that has exactly a 50 percent chance to win every game. To simulate the season, I will flip a coin 162 times. Heads will be a win and tails will be a loss. This team would be expected to win 81 games while losing 81 games. 81 would be the mean outcome, but due to variance will not be the outcome in most trials. Warning: math ahead. Variance = N n (1-n)N = Number of trialsn = Probability of successful outcome (0.5 = 50%) The variance for a 162 trial sample is 40.5. Standard deviation is the square root of variance. The standard deviation of a 162 trial sample would be 6.36. What are the chances that this team wins x games? P(x) = N!/(x!(N-x)) n^x (1-n)^(N-x)P(x) = Probability of successN = Number of Trails (162)n = Odds of success (0.5 = 50%)x = Number of successes (wins) The mean outcome of 81 wins only occurs 6.25 percent of the time. The 75-87 range, plus or minus six, occurs 69.23 percent of the time. Over 30 percent of the time, the wins will be distributed outside of that 12 win range. 69 and 93 wins were used as the cutoff, because that’s where the odds fell below one percent for any individual outcome. However, 68 and fewer occurs 2.46 percent of the time. The same is true for 94 or more. This team that is flipping coins has a 9.07 percent chance of ending the season with 90+ wins. The Gambler’s fallacy of expecting things to even out because something has happened more often than would be expected is not true. Past events do not alter the future odds when they are static. Banked wins matter. Once you start the season getting ahead or behind will have a large effect on where you end. If you start the season 7-0 like the Orioles did last year, or 0-6, this will move the mean outcome three to three and a half wins to end the season. How does this apply to the Rays? The Rays are currently projected to win a few more than they lose and have a chance to compete for the wild card. 162 games sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t. There is still a ton of variance that exists in a sample this small. It is unlikely but still possible the Rays will win 90+ games if they play like a .500 team similar to the Rangers last season. As a group, they will have to overperform their median outcomes. Some individual players will have to put up career years. The good news is, as a whole, they are on the right side of 30. Improvement or career years wouldn’t shock anybody from just about any of their younger players. Evan Longoria, Xavier Cedeno, and Danny Farquhar are the only Rays players over 30 years old. The Rays’ front office has done a good job of building up depth where they can while having many of their best prospects only a call away in Triple-A Durham. Nothi[...]

Tampa Bay Rays News and Links - The First Game of Spring Training!



First game of the spring, Ryne Stanek hopeful for the majors, and everyone hated Rasmus’ beard

Tonight, the Rays will play their first game of the spring, with Austin Pruitt set to take the mound for the Rays against the Minnesota Twins at 7pm. The game won’t be televised, but can be heard through the Rays Radio Team.