Sunday, June 29, 2008

Game 83: When Statistics Are Wrong

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 10, Houston Astros 11

Statistics is the science of using past performance as a predictor of future results, where increasingly massive amounts of data and more and more complicated equations can tell you what's likely to happen most of the time. Collect the right information and you can establish patterns: see that Mike Lowell's hitting style will smack double after double in Fenway, find that Manny is at his most dangerous when he's facing an 3 and 0 count. These patterns tell you the story that will happen most of the time, or at least a plurality of the time. The rest of what goes on is the excitement of the game.

Ironically - after my ponderings on long relief yesterday - "the rest of what goes on" was what happened yesterday: like Matsuzaka two days ago, Lester lasted five innings (he didn't pitch as well, but that's a different matter), already breaking the average of six innings that Red Sox starters have created. However, his relief couldn't pull the same trick two days in a row, giving up another five runs over four innings; Hansen might have been able to hold the fort - a good sign, by the way, for his potential future as a closer - but his was a solo effort.

So much for statistics; did we really just lose a slug fest to the Houston Astros? Here's a team battling the Reds for the position of cellar dweller of the NL Central, rocking a slugging percentage some thirty points behind the league-leading Chicago Cubs (and about 45 points behind the Sox, who are second in the AL in bashing things), scoring runs in a tit for tat that could have been a Sox/Yanks game from a few years ago. Good job on Boston's part playing down to the other team's level.