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Should we be optimistic?

Bill James invented something he called Pythagorean winning percentage. It is a way of figuring what a team record should be by the number of runs scored and allowed.  Most team’s real record is very close to their Pythagorean record. Pythagorean record is runs scored to the 1.83 power divided by runs score to the 1.83 power + runs allowed to the 1.83 power.  The Jays have scored 364 runs and allowed 347 so they should have a .522 winning percentage.  They actually have a .472 winning percentage.  They have played 89 games and if they had their Pythag winning percentage they would be 46 and 43 and be in fourth place one game behind the Yankees and 9.5 games out of first place. Instead they are 4 games worse than that and in last place.

Why? Well mostly because they 12 and 21 in one run games. No other team in the AL has as many one run games and only Cleveland has a worse record in one run games. In general, when we win we tend to win big, when we lose it tends to be close. As a rule, poor records in one run games show bad luck and luck tends to even out over time. But then that doesn’t mean it will even out this season.

The good news? We should have some reason to feel optimistic for the future, bad luck shouldn’t continue forever, things should even up. Bad News? Even if we were at our Pythag record, we would be still be a long ways back and would be a long shot for playoffs.

Reasons not to be optimistic? Our offense isn’t young, young players tend to improve, older players tend to decline. We also have a lot of money tied up in long term contracts to players who have had good seasons in the distant past or who had a career season just before they signed their long term contract. Wells has had 2 very good seasons in a 7 year career, but is being paid like a superstar.  Rios has had a couple of good seasons but his power seemed to come out of nowhere and it seems to have gone back to wherever it came from. Overbay is 31 and is having his 2nd poor season in a row.  Stairs is 40 and had a career year last year but his last similar season was 2003. Will he ever catch lightening again? Role is 32 and had a great season in 2004 but has been up and down; betting on him having another great season seems like a long shot.  Hill hit 17 home runs last year, the year before he had 6, which season is the real Hill? I like Lind a lot but his upside likely isn’t a string of 30 home run seasons.

We have some good players in the minors, but the best prospects are a few years away.  But the biggest reason to be optimistic is because the Jays are willing to spend money on their roster, if we get a GM that can figure which players to spend that money on.