Does the best team win?

I must give credit to the freakanomics blog for making me think a little more about this.

Luck will always have a role to play in all sports and the idea that we could come up with a “true” winning percentage is crazy. A team is better at home or on the road, injuries effect both teams and some teams get better at a faster rate than others.

For example: in 2001 the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season. They lost in the ALCS to the New York Yankees. But when I think of 2001 MLB season I think of the World Series. I think of the “World Champion” Arizona Diamondbacks, the game after 9/11 and November baseball. Do I care that those Mariners went 40-12 in April and May? No.

Does this mean that the Diamondbacks were better than the Mariners?

I’m going to answer that question with another question: what do you mean by “better”?

Are we looking at who plays better over the season? Who played better in one game? A look at how these players statistically should have performed taking luck and injury out of the equation?

The best team on any given day will usually win (I will allow for times where a referee or umpire makes horrible calls and things like that to have the “better” team lose). Some days the team that normally has a 25% chance of winning has an amazing game. I would say that being “better” includes using luck to your advantage.

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~ by realfactsandbeer on November 10, 2012.

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