Web site applies math to make playoff predictions

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Updated Thursday, May 3 at 12:18 AM

DALLAS - It was another bad outing for Matt Harrison on Wednesday afternoon. The Texas Rangers lost to Toronto, giving them two losses in a row, and four in their last six games.

But they are still going to make the playoffs.

We know this because CoolStandings.com says so.

"As of today, the Texas Rangers have a 93.8 percent chance of making the playoffs," said the web site's co-founder, Greg Agami.

Agami and his friend run the site, which calculates every team's chances for making the playoffs.

"We simulate the rest of the baseball season 1,000,000 times after the end of each game," Agami said. "And we try to calculate the playoff chances for each team."

Their simulations are based on a Pythagorean Theorem, which projects how run differential relates to winning and losing. The theorem was developed by baseball statistician Bill James, who takes runs scored (squared), divided by runs scored (squared) plus runs allowed (squared).

SMU economics professor Tom Fomby said it's a relatively simple equation, and the number it spits out is what the team's winning percentage should be, based on that run differential.

"So there's been some research in sports-metrics, if you will, or sabermetrics, for some time," Fomby said. "This, of course, is for the enjoyment of the public."

But no matter how good a formula is, nothing beats the real thing.

"I'm a Red Sox fan," Agami said. "And we were 99% to make it last year."

Last year was the Red Sox historic collapse, when they were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the season.

That proved again the old baseball axiom, it ain't over till it's over.

No matter what the percentages say.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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