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in a perfect world

back on may 1 the cardinals got 10 hits and five walks off john smoltz & co. but only cashed in a single run and lost the game, 2-1. i sputtered next day that only the devil himself could have denied the cardinals that win. he'll do that from time to time; but then he'll make it back up to you by cursing your opponent in some later game. we assume the black magic (aka "the breaks") gets evenly distributed over a 162-game season, working for you as often as against. but does it really?

as promised, i've been keeping track. i've gone back through all of stl's 2005 box scores and vetted each outcome via three different run-scoring models. out of courtesy for the sabrmetrically averse, i won't post the three formulas here; it suffices to say that all three generate a probable run total based on the number of hits, walks, extra-base hits, stolen bases, etc etc a team logs within any given 9 innings. for those who do care, the run-scoring models (and links to the formulas) are

  1. bill james' runs created tech-1
  2. tangotiger's linear weights ratio
  3. a model introduced in a diary at my SportsBlogs cousin Lookout Landing that correlates runs scored to OPS: call it "OPS runs"
if all three models predict that the losing team should have scored more runs than the winning team, i credit the devil with a stolen game. to clarify further, the "predicted winner" in any game has to "beat" the opposition by a full run; if a formula predicts a final score of 4.8125 to 4.0375, it's deemed a tie.

and now the drum roll: through 37 games of the cardinals' 2005 schedule, the devil has pocketed 4 victories -- three belonging to the cardinals, one belonging to the houston astros.

the latter occurred on april 22 at busch, the night before the scoreless duel betw mulder and clemens. st louis jumped ahead 8-1 and held on to win 8-7, but the run-scoring models predict a 7-6 houston victory -- and indeed the astros racked up more hits, more baserunners, more total bases, and the game's lone home run.

the three filched cardinal wins came on april 28 at home vs milwaukee, a game the cardinals lost 4-3 but "should" have won 4-3; the aforementioned may 1 loss to atlanta, which st louis should have won 4-1; and may 10 at home vs los angeles, wherein the cardinals blew a 7-3 lead and lost 9-8. in that game st louis outhit l.a. 14-12, outhomered them 3-2, and should have beat them 9-7. but the dark prince took possession of kevin jarvis's arm and hee seop choi's bat in the 6th inning, and . . . . .

the prick.

add it all up and we might say that, in a perfect world, the cardinals would be 26-11 this morning rather than 24-13. the devil owes us two games. (and feel free sir to keep them until october, at which time repayment will be taken with no questions asked.)

once i get this software figured out, i'll post stl's perfect-world record in a sidebar and update it daily; also a running tally of the total number of games overturned, in either direction, by the Evil One. i'll occasionally check my own for-entertainment-purposes-only figures against other, far more sophisticated models (eg Beyond the Box Score's Pythagenport, Sabernomics' prOPS) that attempt to measure who's getting the breaks and who's not.


early a.m. reading list: wrap-ups of the nyc weekend at the birdwatch and (via guest reporter julia) cardnilly.