Friday, June 17, 2005

A single or a three run homer?

I was thinking about this game from last week. Remember that until 2 were out in the 8th, the Phillies only had a 1 run lead. With a man on first and second, Thome singled home Lofton. Utley then homered, and the Phils went on to win.

Which was the more important hit? Thome's single or Utley's homer? Put aside for the moment that if Thome doesn't get on base, Utley never gets the chance to hit that inning. Which made more of a difference to the Phils winning?

Well, starting with up by 1, bottom of the 8th, and men on 1st and second, the home team has a 90.9% chance of winning (wow!) Thome increased that to 93.8%. Call it a 3% increase. Utley they homered, increasing the Phillies win odds to 100%, about a 6% increase.

Now I would have assumed that Thome's single was more critical to winning than Utley's homer, simply because I thought the difference between a one run game and a two run game was greater than a two run game and a five run game. I was wrong. In fact, the difference between a two run game and a three run game is the critical juncture (at least with 2 out in the 8th). At 3 runs, the game becomes a 100% home team win. The third run is twice as valuable as the second, in that situation.

What does it all mean? Well, number geeks like me just enjoy knowing these things for their own sakes, I guess.

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