Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> How Many Runs? About the author, Boyd Nation

How Many Runs?

Publication Date: February 14, 2006

The last three weeks, in varying ways, I've been talking at least peripherally about player metrics that attempt to convert a player's raw stats into a number of runs. There's one more step that's useful, and I wanted to take that step this week, quickly -- what's the relationship between runs and wins?

There's an old rule of thumb (or at least as much as anything public and analytical in baseball can be referred to as "old") that 10 runs is worth a win. That's not a bad rule of thumb, but it's actually true that that number is context-dependent -- in the current offensive environment, around a little under 5 runs a game, it's actually around 10.5 runs. In the late '90's, it was around 11 runs; in the '60's, it was around 8.5. That relationship is not actually quite linear, since it's based on the same thinking behind the Pythagorean relationship, but it's close enough within the range that anyone actually plays in to pretend that it is.

As a beginning to talking about translating this to college ball, let's look at that context. The average Division I game last year played (rounding off a hair) 54 games against other D1 teams and scored 6.1 runs a game. The ISR top 100 played an average of 61 games against D1 teams and averaged 6.7 runs a game. However, those same top 100 played an average of 35 games against the other members of the top 100, and they only averaged 5.5 runs in those games.

This leaves the final answer a little ambiguous if you're actually trying to project performance. Plugging all those numbers into the Pythag stuff, what I come up with is that over the whole field of teams, it probably takes 13 runs above average to generate a win, but for the top 100 it's probably closer to 12. To put this in context, that means that Shane Robinson's 2005 performance was probably worth 5 wins for Florida State above an average player.

One final note in this rather short column (when what you're looking for is one number, it doesn't take long to tell) is that a win is actually worth more, baseball-wise, to a college team than to a pro team, simply because a game for an MLB team is only .6% of their season, while a game for a college team is 1.7% of the season. The 5 wins between 81 and 86 wins for a pro team isn't that big a deal (although obviously there are windows where 5 games matter a lot), but the difference between 30-30 and 35-25 is huge for a college team. This counteracts the higher number of runs per win, since a win is harder to come by but it's worth more when you get it.

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> How Many Runs? About the author, Boyd Nation