No, not 1962 the year the Mets were born and let’s put it right out there…the writer is a lifelong Mets fan, so get your chuckles out now, and for the record the Mets were 40-120 in that first year.
Baseball is a game of numbers. “Stats.” As Kevin Costner said in For the Love of the Game, “we count everything in baseball.”
That has been true from the beginning and Sabermetrics and analytics is nothing new to the sport…hell, when we were kids in Little League we used to chart where hitters hit and adjust our defenses accordingly, “hey Dobs, last time up he hit it to your right so shade over a bit…”
In keeping with the increasing importance of analytics, I am introducing, “The Theory of 62.” At the end of the day, there are undoubtedly additional analytics and potential wagering opportunities if this concept was developed and utilized. However, here is a first look:
THE 50/50 CONCEPT
MLB teams play 162 games in a season and every major-league team (for the most part and we will detail that in a second) will have at least 50 wins and 50 losses each. No matter how good they are, a team will lose 50 games. Conversely, the worst teams in MLB will win at least 50 games. Thus, the crux of the entire MLB season, played from March through October boils down to 62 games.
The Orioles are an epically bad team and may fail to reach 50 wins again this year. They had 47 in 2018 and were the first team in 15 years, since the 2003 Detroit Tigers, to fail to reach that plateau. Those are the only two teams in the Modern Era, since the aforementioned “loveable losers” broke ground in Queens, to no not reach that milestone. Therefore, while we have seen a couple of examples where a team is this historically bad, it is quite rare.
The Red Sox were phenomenal last season and rode their regular season dominance to a World Championship—yet they still lost 54 games. So, for the sake of the argument, let us agree then that the 50-50 rule applies to every MLB team.
What makes a team a playoff team and eventually a World Series Champion is how they fare, what their record is, in these CRUCIAL 62 contests! That can be, and should be broken down much the way the standings are today–for one-run games; games in division, interleague play etc.
We have the information, but we need to determine what exactly constitutes a “62” game and the challenge is how to determine those 62 games. This could also be something that becomes a part of the current analytics rage. Fans love to debate everything from balls and strikes to managerial decisions.
What determines the “62?” Clearly if a team wins 10-0 and their pitcher tosses a one hitter that would go into the 50W column for that team and the 50 L column for the other–pretty clear as the 50/50 games generally are.
Sometimes a score outcome would not really indicate whether it is part of the 50/50 or part of the 62. It would require knowledge and in-depth expertise about what happened in that game. One can read a 4-0 line score and contemplate that it was one of the 50 Wins or 50 Losses for each team. However, what if the game was 0-0 in the 9th inning and team posted a four spot in the top of the inning on a two out, full count grand slam—that might change the perception.
Every game has an official scorer, who is charged with deciding whether someone gets a hit or an error….a wild pitch or passed ball. These calls can be controversial, disputed and could even prevent a player from achieving a contract bonus. Clearly, the scorer is watching every game intently and would have an intimate knowledge of the game, as would a team broadcasters, beat writers etc.
For the most part, in a pennant race those 62 games are what determines the division champion and wild card winners. What were they and how were they won or lost? It could be the official scorer at the end of each game to place the win and loss either under the 50/50 column for each team, or under the 62 record. Or perhaps a post-game polling of fans and/or media would determine the slot of the win or loss?
This would open potential new debates, more analytics to see what players actually perform under real pressure (player X has most of hits and RBI in the 50W/L category, but in the 62 level he underperforms, whereas player Y shines). Once the sports gambling rage gets to the ballpark (and it will) people can place a bet on their phone as to what category the game will fall under.
All in all “The Theory of 62” is a way to extract the key games and what made one team a champion as opposed to others coming up just short. For those in the bottom of the 62 count, they have a lot of work to do. One-hundred-sixty-two games over seven months is indeed a marathon, but when you boil down each teams chances in these “62” games, whether they are played in April or late September, it puts an interesting spin on them in a variety of ways.