Monday, August 21, 2006

Abracadabra!


Let's talk about one the best stats in baseball. The Magic number. What is the magic number you ask. It's the number that tells you how close or far your team is from winning it's division. Currently the Yankees magic number is 34. That means any combination of Yankees wins and/or Red Sox loses that total 34 means the Yankees win. So the question you are no doubt asking yourself is, "how do you calculate the magic number, Michael?". Here's the formula, you take the number of wins of the second place team (The Red Sox (69)), add the number of games they have remaining (39) and then subtract that number from the number of wins of the first place team (The Yankees (74)) and add 1. So from that formula you get (69+39) - (74+1) = 33.

Pretty simple don't you think? So you're saying to yourself now, Michael, you're an idiot, just a couple of lines earlier you said that the Yankees magic number was 34. Good catch, faithful reader, I did say that. There is one more part to the magic number formula and that is that both teams must have played the same number of games. In the Yankees case they have played one less game than the Red Sox, so you just add the number of games fewer that the Yankees have played to the magic number derived from the formula. So the formula gave us 33 and you add the one game the Yankees have in hand and you get 34.

There you have it. The magic number simply enough calculates the maximum number of games the team in second place can win and then gives you number of games the first place team would have to win to beat them. Therefore, each win by the first place team or loss by the second place team makes the number smaller. The Yankees are currently beating the Red Sox and if they hold on their magic number will be reduced to... anyone, anyone, anyone, that's right 32. I'm so proud of all of you for being such good students. Come back to tomorrow when I'll be explaining the theory of relativity.

P.S. The odds before todays game was played: The Yankees:96.6%, The Red Sox:12.6%
Also the Yankees just completed the sweep of the Red Sox, so their magic number does indeed now stand at 32.

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