It was more than a little nerve-racking at times–Mississippi State sent the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning Friday and the 9th both Saturday and Sunday–but the Auburn baseball team got their sweep, their first of the Bulldogs since 1987. (Yes, 1987. I know State has been a very good baseball program for a very long time, but damn.) Even taking two out of three against Tennessee at home this coming weekend would virtually guarantee the Tigers a shot at an SEC West title when they head to Oxford in Week 10.
But of course, I know you’re wondering about the really important question: how did the sweep affect Auburn’s standing in WBE’s weekly SEC baseball Pythagorean win-loss rankings? You can see below following this week’s results. For more on Pythagorean expectation click here or here.
Vanderbilt d. @LSU: 15-16, 6-2, 4-3
Arkansas d. @Ole Miss: 11-4, 2-3, 7-0
@Kentucky d. South Carolina (!): 9-13, 2-1, 9-3
Florida d. @Alabama: 9-3, 14-8, 8-10
@Auburn d. Miss. St.: 9-6, 16-14, 11-8
Tennessee d. @Georgia: 4-1, 25-5, 14-11
Teams are ranked by their collected Pythagorean wins (or “expected” wins), followed by their actual wins, difference off the Pythag (i.e. how lucky or unlucky they’ve been), and runs scored/runs allowed.
1. Arkansas, 16.281. (Actual W’s: 16, difference -.281, RS/RA 182/126)
2. South Carolina 16.280. (W’s: 17, +.72, 167/115)
3. Auburn, 15.697. (W’s: 15, -.697, 209/152)
4. Florida, 15.312. (W’s: 17, +1.688, 154/116)
5. Vanderbilt, 13.393*. (W’s: 12, -1.393, 121/97)
6. LSU, 12.276. (W’s: 12, -.276, 176/172)
7. Ole Miss, 11.588. (W’s: 15, +3.412, 143/148)
8. Tennessee, 11.397. (W’s: 11, -.397, 155/163)
9. Kentucky, 10.619. (W’s: 9, -1.619, 155/174)
10. Alabama, 10.304 (W’s: 10, -.304, 157/181)
11. Miss. St., 8.223 (W’s: 5, -3.223, 161/223)
12. Georgia*, 4.145 (W’s: 3, -1.145, 106/220)
*Vandy and Georgia’s places wouldn’t change if we ranked by Pythagorean win percentage rather than straight Pythag wins, but because they’ve played two fewer games they’re a little closer to the teams in front of them than it appears here. Vandy’s Pythag win percentage is ~.609; Florida’s is ~.638.
— Hey hey, no more griping about Auburn’s luck after a series in which they gave up 28 runs–you don’t have to delve too far into the math to realize that’s more than 9 runs a game–and still managed a sweep. Once you’re within a game of your Pythag, there’s not really much room for complaint.
— That’s right, after Carolina lost to Kentucky and Arkansas played well enough to sweep the Rebels in Oxford, Pythag sees them in a total dead heat, just .001 apart. (It’s actually a smaller margin that that; I rounded Arkansas’s total wins up.) They play each other this weekend; take a coin out of your pocket and you can predict the winner as well as these rankings can.
— Speaking of that Kentucky-Carolina series, that’s probably the strangest series result (according to Pythag) since the Tide came with two runs of sweeping Vandy in Week 1. (Second runner-up: the Tide playing Auburn even in run differential and taking 2 of 3.) Kentucky was due for some luck–hello 2-1 Game 2 victory–but still, the ‘Cocks were last week’s clearcut No. 1. Now neither Carolina nor the Hogs are a game ahead of Auburn or the Gators.
— A series result that is not surprising in retrospect: Tennessee winning the weekend against Ole Miss back in Week 3. After their bludgeoning of Georgia, Pythag sees the Vols as essentially the same team as the Rebels. Sure, that 25-5 horse-whipping is something of an outlier, but you could have said the same thing about Auburn’s big series against the Dawgs to open the SEC season … the one that, you know, wound up foreshadowing this whole “two games out of the overall SEC lead” thing.
In any case, with Tennessee already a game ahead of the Tide in the standings, hosting the Tide the final weekend of the season, and more than a game better according to Pythag, the rankings see the Vols as decided favorites to grab the final spot in Hoover.
— As for the division races, the rankings probably like Auburn in the West–hot as Tennessee is, hosting the Vols and visiting the Rebels looks much, much easier than Arkansas’s matchups against Carolina and Vanderbilt. In the East, it depends on how well the ‘Cocks do against the Hogs; with the Gators getting a likely sweep against Georgia this week, Carolina will have to win their series in Fayetteville to avoid having to sweep the Gators for the division. Even though Pythag likes the ‘Cocks to win that final series against Florida, the Gators still appear to have the inside track on both the East and the overall league title.
— I suppose I shouldn’t leave Ole Miss out of the West discussion, but man oh man, does the Pythag hate them. Still, they just keep on keepin’ on with their one-run-game-winnin’ selves, and if they can squeak out a series win in T-town and another at home against Auburn, the Hogs’ rough schedule could hand them the division. The Arkansas comparison doesn’t say much for the Rebels’ chances against Auburn–the Tigers took two in Fayetteville, the Rebels were fortunate to avoid getting swept at home–but they’ve put themselves in a position where anything can happen.
QUESTION FOR MATH PEOPLE
Any readers out there with more familiarity with actually calculating Pythag than I’ve got: the numbers are kicking out more total Pythagorean wins than there are actual real-life wins in play. I’m assuming this is because I’m using the simple square rather than the 1.81 exponent in the formula–is this an accurate assumption?
Photo by Van Emst.