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An Odd Statistic Uniting the Reds & Giants; or, Who's Luck Will Run Out First?

There's a strange, made up statistic uniting our Cincinnati Reds and those San Francisco Giants. It's more than likely meaningless, but these are the playoffs, where everything is exponentially meaningless!

If you've been at all aware of the larger baseball landscape these last several weeks, you've undoubtedly heard of the Orioles' bizarre record in close games (29-9 in one-run games, 16-2 in extras). The layman has a ready made term to describe a team like the O's: "lucky."

And that's why the beloved Bill James created the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball. For the uninitiated, this transforms a teams runs scored and allowed into an expected winning percentage. It's fairly accurate.

This season, most teams' Pythagorean record fell within a couple games of their actual record. But the difference in Baltimore's Pythagorean record (82-80) vs. their actual W's & L's (93-69), was a whopping 11 (11!) games. Lucky!

The Reds (97-65) won three more games than the Giants (94-68). Yet according to Bill James, they ended tied for second in luck.

The Reds led the NL in run prevention, allowing just 588 runs (only the Rays were better), but only scored 669 (a bit below average). Their Pythagorean record was 91-71, or 6 games below their actual record (97-65).

The Giants scored a bit more robust 718 runs and allowed 649 for a Pythagorean record of 88-74. This, too, was 6 games below their actual (94-68).

Theo Epstein has famously called the Major League playoffs a crap shoot, which may make the 2012 Divisional Series a sort of Russian Roulette of baseball. Like I said, exponentially meaningless!

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