Mirror, Mirror On The Wall… The Minnesota Twins Are The Luckiest Of Them All


Bet you never would have guessed.

For a little off-day statistical thought exercise I decided to calculate out a version of ‘third-order wins’ for all of the teams in the majors to see who had been the most ‘lucky’ in a statistical sense and who had been the least.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with the techniques at work here they rely on two fundamental assumptions: 1. teams with better offensive numbers score more runs 2. teams that score more runs (and allow fewer) win more games.

The first step is to take on-base-percentage, slugging percentage and total plate appearances on both sides of the plate for every team (i.e. OBP allowed, etc…) and use a form of the basic runs created formula to estimate how many runs we think the team ‘should’ have scored and allowed.  The second step is to plug those estimated RS and RA totals for each team into the Pythagenpat formula to use them to project winning percentages.  Teams that have pitched poorly and hit poorly but yet won games will show up with far fewer expected wins than actual wins and a big, fat positive number for ‘luck’ (like the Natty Nats) – and vice versa.

Follow me through the jump to see who’s been lucky and who has not:

See? Told you so. Despite their awful record, the Twins have pitched and hit soooo poorly that they have really been the luckiest team in the American League thus far. Given how they’ve played, you would expect them to have won 3 or 4 fewer games than they actually have. I would have expected those teams that have ‘underachieved’ the most this past 6 weeks to show up as the unluckiest – and the Chicago White Sox are right up there near the top – but the Twins… Also worthy of note – our Tigers’ luck is so close to zero as to be irrelevant, this is the record they ‘should’ have. The Royals are overachieving and lucky, a dangerous combination. The Indians, on the other hand, deserve (almost) all the wins they’ve gotten. Beware.