The .909 Phenomenon

Explain how a .611 team went .909 in the postseason & I'll Tell You What to Do with Konerko

This question really can't be answered sabrmetrically, or can it?  

As we sit here and scratch our heads about what to do about off-season personnel decisions, I am sure that if we answer this question with a degree of satisfaction, the roster moves will become clear.... so, here we go.

Over the large statistical sample of 162 games, the `05 Sox turned in a 99-63 season, a winning percentage of .611.  

It should be noted that the Sox weren't even really a .611 team.  They had a Pythagorean won-loss of 91-71, and were therefore already squeezing more wins out of the season than their runs scored/runs allowed distribtution would normally predict.  

In October, over the 3 playoff series, the Sox went 11-1, for a winning percentage  of .909.

Statistics are supposed to have predicitve value.  So, how do you explain the almost 30% discrepancy between regular season and post-season.   What happened?

I'm no Bill James, and there are plenty of cutting-edge stats whose derivations and formulas I can't define or understand.  But to start the debate, I'll list the following:

The Sox went 35-19 in 1-run games over the regular season.  They went 4-1 in the post-season.

Collectively, the Sox' OPS during the regular season was .747. In the postseason , it was .821

Collectively, the Sox' WHIP during the regular season was 1.25.  In the postseason, it was .97.

You can quickly check & compare stats for the two seasons here:

05 reg. season batting:

05 postseason batting: ied=0&year=postseason_2005

05 reg. season pitching:

05 postseason pitching: ified=0&year=postseason_2005

For almost any stat you choose to look at H/IP, CG, BA, K/BB, whatever-- you will find this marked upsurge for the postseason.

So, there you are.  

Does it defy prediction?  Did the umpires create it?  Was it the roof in Houston?  Team chemistry? Ozzieball?  Was it that a team conceived as a defensive/pitcing machine was under no pressure to hit in the playoffs? Or was it really Shoeless Joe come back to redeem the Sox and himself?   Did our pitchers just kick ass?  Did Bud Selig fix it for us?  Did it have something to do with Roger Clemens' mom?  Did AJ Pierzynski visit the Crossroads this offseason?  Did Ozzie?  Why do I remember Doug Eddings' name?  Was it Steve Perry?

Seriously, was there any one player or core group of players responsible for it?  If so, how & why?

Or was there a statistical seed hidden in that mountain of regular season stats whose postseason flowering I just missed?  

(I'm sure we could start with the noticeable difference between the Sox' Pythagorean won-loss and their actual record.  How did that happen?  But the difference between .562 and .611 is nowhere near the difference between .611 & .909.)

If  you can explain this to me in coherent terms, then we'll know how to build the team for next year. (And the Konerko question will become clear.)

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