Baseball BeatNovember 02, 2010
The Morning After
By Rich Lederer

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the 2010 World Series. The team won the NL West by two games and then sailed through the postseason by winning 11 of 15 games in capturing the NLDS, NLCS, and World Series titles.

I have to admit, I never saw it coming. Not before the season. Nor during the season. Nor before the World Series. While I picked the Giants to beat the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, I thought San Francisco would fall to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS and to the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Rather than the Giants winning it in five, I had the Rangers winning in five. On second thought, maybe I got it half right. Just kidding.

Where did I go wrong? Let me count the ways:

1. Small sample size. (Rule No. 1 of forecasting: When you make a mistake, blame the sample size.)

2. Three games in the NLCS were decided by one run. The Giants won all three.

3. The Phillies outscored the Giants, 20-19, but won only two of the six games.

3. I had no idea that the Phillies would "hit" .216/.314/.321 in the NLCS.

4. I didn't foresee Cody Ross slugging three doubles and three home runs in the NLCS.

5. The Giants outscored the Rangers, 29-12. What can I say?

6. I had no idea that the Rangers would "hit" .190/.259/.288 in the World Series.

7. I had no clue that Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero would combine to go 3-for-34.

8. I failed to anticipate that Edgar Renteria would go 7-for-17 with two HR in the World Series. He went deep three times during the regular season.

9. Although I was never a fan of Texas' bullpen aside from Neftali Feliz, I would not have guessed that the set-up relievers would implode to the tune of of a 10.97 ERA over 10.2 innings.

10. I thought Cliff Lee and the Rangers would win Games 1 and 5. Instead, Tim Lincecum and the Giants won both of these crucial battles.

11. Don't forget Rule No. 1.

Look, San Francisco won the World Series fair and square. The Giants are worthy champions. The fact that I got it wrong is neither here nor there. As they say, flags fly forever. Conversely, predictions aren't worth the paper they're written on (or the pixels on your computer screen), especially those involving ... yes, small sample sizes. The staff at Baseball Analysts make such forecasts for fun and are not afraid of being wrong. To Patrick Sullivan's credit, he picked the Giants to win it in six. Not too bad.


Regarding points 3 and 6 in particular: the Phils and the Rangers were only two of the many teams that hit poorly against the Giants in 2010. It is an amazing coincidence how many teams just happened to develop hitting slumps at the very time they just happened to be facing the Giants pitching staff.

As to points 1 and 11: one can amuse oneself for quite a while comparing historical cumulative post-season series results with a like number of series of coin tosses.

I love to watch shutdown pitching, so the 2010 Giants were my favorite team (non-Detroit Tigers division) of recent years. Interestingly, Huff, Torres, Renteria, and Ross all stunk it up in Detroit at different points.

Buster Posey is a fabulous baseball player. I'll take his next five years ahead of Joe Mauer's. If current form holds up, he's the third-best player in the world after Albert and Hanley.

I used the ESPM online stats, picked up the total
runs scored at home by Giants vs opponents, total
runs scored on road by Giants vs opponents, and found that total game scores were about 0.94% home vs road, making the home park of the Giants.

Likewise, I did the same for the Rangers and got a
1.09 home vs road ratio. The Giants were in a pitchers' park, the Rangers in a hitters' park.

That would result in underestimating the Giants' hitting, overestimating their pitching, and vice versa for the Rangers.

I also got total runs for and against each team,
used that to predict the results of an average game. I disregarded home park advantage of 55%, guessing for simplicity that the advantage should be neglibible in the world series, and came out with the Giants 11-10 favorites to win the series.

As you stated, with small sample size, it was no sure thing. Even with my ratings, they would only win the world series about 11/21 of the time.

I went back and did the same thing with the Phillies-Giants comparing runs for/runs against for the season and getting average win ability.

The Giants should have been about 50-50 to win the Phillies Series- again my rating system of using season runs for-runs against doesn't have the Giants as favorites, but did have them as a good bet- getting odds on a even money bet