Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Offense vs. Defense

Dave Cameron at FanGraphs writes about the Blue Jays adding Tulo to a lineup that already scores the most runs: "There are no diminishing returns to scoring more runs; there is no point on offense to where the marginal value of a run scored is worth less than preventing a run from being allowed on defense."

This is an excellent article with lots of research, so I hate to nitpick. But the above statement isn't true. For any team that scores more runs that it allows (which includes pretty much every team that makes the playoffs), preventing a run is more valuable than scoring an additional run.

It's because of the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball, which states that the ratio of a team's wins to losses corresponds to the ratio of their runs scored to runs allowed (actually, to the SQUARE of these numbers, but that's not essential to this analysis).

Take a team that's on pace to score 600 runs and allow 550 runs. Their ratio of wins to losses should be (600 x 600) : (550 x 550) or 3600:3025. Or, to put it another way, their winning percentage should be:

(600 x 600) / (600 x 600) + (550 x 550) = .543
(that's a record of 88-74 over a 162-game season)

Let's imagine they have a choice to add a hitter that will give them 50 extra runs, or add a pitcher than will prevent 50 runs.

After adding the hitter, they score 650 runs but still allow 550. Their new projected winning percentage is:

(650 x 650) / ((650 x 650) + (550 x 550)) = .583 (94 wins)

After adding the pitcher, they still score 600 runs but now they allow only 500. Their new projected winning percentage is:

(600 x 600) / ((600 x 600) + (500 x 500)) = .590 (96 wins).

That's a difference of two wins. This may not sound like a lot, but the difference between making the playoffs and going home has averaged just 1.5 games in the American League over the last 4 seasons.

The interesting thing about this fact is that it doesn't matter if you are a great offensive team or a mediocre one. As long as you are a good team, one that scores more runs than it allows, it's always more valuable to prevent a run than to score a run.

And ... for fans of the Red Sox or Phillies ... the reverse is also true. If you are allowing more runs than you are scoring, you will improve your team more by adding offense than by adding the equivalent amount of defense.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Baseball Mogul Goes To Korea!

Three years ago, we were approached by a Korean game company called Neowiz that wanted to license Baseball Mogul for an online game they were building. Neowiz' development team grew up playing Baseball Mogul, and we were at the top of their list of companies to work with.

(Baseball Mogul's Korean popularity didn't come as a complete surprise — we have known for 10 years that about 4-in-10 of the sites driving traffic to are based in Korea.)

The game is called 야구의신 (pronounced "yagui sin") which translates as "God of Baseball" (a decent approximation of "Baseball Mogul"). Alas, you can't play it unless you can read Korean. But there is this cool trailer:

... and these screenshots:


This has been both good and bad news for Baseball Mogul. The bad news is that I've been busy flying back and forth to Seoul, giving me less time to improve the game.

The good news is that we earned enough money to make it possible for me to work full-time on Baseball Mogul instead of trying to juggle multiple projects (such as Football Mogul and Masters of the Gridiron).

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to talk about this until now, but the entire project was covered by an NDA. Now you know why I've been distracted for the last four years. I'm happy to have this project out the door, and happy to be working full-time on Baseball Mogul 2016.