Dodgers are in­cred­i­ble, but don’t ap­pear headed for his­tory books

Austin American-Statesman - - GOLF - By Neil Green­berg The Wash­ing­ton Post

The Los An­ge­les Dodgers lost to the Arizona Di­a­mond­backs on Tues­day night, their sec­ond loss in the last 16 games. Losses are no­table for the Dodgers be­cause they are so few and far be­tween this sea­son.

Ear­lier this month the Dodgers fin­ished a stretch where they won 43 out of 50 games, the best 50-game stretch in the ma­jor leagues since 1912. In July they set the record for most con­sec­u­tive wins in games in which they held a lead at any point dur­ing the con­test, break­ing a 111-year-old record set by Chicago Cubs in 1906, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Even with the lat­est loss to the Di­a­mond­backs, the Dodgers’ over­all win­ning per­cent­age of .705 has them on pace to win 114 games, putting them within strik­ing dis­tance of the record for most in a sea­son, a mark shared by the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners, who each won 116 games dur­ing their re­spec­tive cam­paigns.

But let’s pump the brakes on the 2017 Dodgers be­ing a su­per team, be­cause while this team is very, very good, they aren’t nearly as dom­i­nant as other MLB teams through­out his­tory.

They are the third-best hit­ting team ac­cord­ing to OPS (.800) this sea­son, cre­at­ing runs at a rate that is 12 per­cent above av­er­age af­ter ac­count­ing for league and score ef­fects (112 wRC+). That’s good enough to rank sec­ond in the ma­jors this sea­son, but they are a dis­tant sec­ond to the Hous­ton Astros, who are in the lead for best-hit­ting team of all time (130 wRC+).

The Dodgers’ pitch­ing is the best in base­ball this sea­son in terms of over­all ERA (3.09, 24 per­cent lower than av­er­age) with the sec­ond-best FIP (3.46, 18 per­cent lower) in 2017. Yet those marks place them 12th and 5th all-time, re­spec­tively - high rank­ings to be sure, but not all-time, su­per-team great.

Their ad­justed run dif­fer­en­tial per game (1.7 SRS) would rank sev­enth among the 11 MLB teams that have won at least 70 per­cent of their games, with both the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners ahead of them in terms of dom­i­nat­ing op­po­nents. That’s a far cry from the 1939 New York Yan­kees, who went 106-45 that year, beat­ing op­po­nents by 2.4 ad­justed runs per game.

And there is no guar­an­tee the Dodgers reach the 113-win mark, which would give them a fi­nal reg­u­lar sea­son win per­cent­age of 70 per­cent or more.

Us­ing each team’s ac­tual win per­cent­age in the Log5 win ex­pectancy for­mula, which gives a team’s prob­a­bil­ity of win­ning ev­ery game af­ter ad­just­ing for home-field ad­van­tage, and sim­u­lat­ing the re­main­der of the Dodgers’ sea­son, they can be ex­pected to win an av­er­age of 114 games. In more than a third of these sim­u­la­tions (36 per­cent) they win at least 116 games and 25 per­cent of the time they fin­ish with 117 wins or more. There is a 1-in-3 chance the team will win 112 games or fewer.

But us­ing a team’s real win per­cent­age as a barom­e­ter of tal­ent is flawed. A bet­ter es­ti­mate of a team’s fu­ture per­for­mance is their Pythagorean win per­cent­age, which uses a team’s ac­tual runs scored and al­lowed to de­rive how many games a team should win and lose.

It’s no sur­prise the Dodgers lead the league here, too, with their runs scored and al­lowed in­di­cat­ing they should have a 77-35 record, the best in base­ball. If we use each team’s Pythagorean win per­cent­age in the sim­u­la­tions, the Dodgers can be ex­pected to win an av­er­age of 114 games, with a 22 per­cent chance at break­ing the all-time wins record.

We can take this one step fur­ther and use the teams’ BaseRuns win per­cent­age, a third-or­der win­ning per­cent­age which takes into ac­count a team’s per­for­mance with­out con­sid­er­ing the se­quenc­ing to cal­cu­late ex­pected runs scored and runs al­lowed. By this method, the Dodgers win an av­er­age of 114 games, with an 18 per­cent chance of at least a 117-win sea­son.

There is no deny­ing the Dodgers de­serve to be the World Se­ries fa­vorite or that they are a fun team to watch dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, but un­til they com­pletely dom­i­nate their com­pe­ti­tion in ev­ery facet of the game, or set the record for wins, they don’t de­serve to be called a su­per team.


The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (35) greets Yas­mani Gran­dal af­ter Bellinger hit a solo home run dur­ing the sec­ond in­ning Wed­nes­day against the Di­a­mond­backs in Phoenix.

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