All right, so we’re doing something a little bit different this week. (In addition to putting the post up on Wednesday instead of Monday.) Scoring margin is better than straight-up win-loss record as an indicator of performance–and predictor for future results–but Pythagorean win-loss is even better. So this week I busted out the calculator and figured out how the Pythagorean calculation sees the SEC standings.
Teams below are ranked by their collected Pythagorean wins (or “expected” wins), with their actual wins, difference off the Pythag (i.e. how lucky or unlucky they’ve been), and runs scored/runs allowed afterward. Enjoy:
1. South Carolina, 14.988. (Actual W’s: 16, difference +1.012, RS/RA 150/95)
2. Auburn, 13.873 (W’s: 12, -1.873, 173/124)
3. Arkansas, 13.699 (W’s: 14, +.301, 163/119)
4. Florida, 13.153 (W’s: 15, +1.847, 123/95)
5. Vanderbilt*, 11.680 (W’s: 10, -1.680, 96/76)
6. Ole Miss, 11.136 (W’s: 14, +2.864, 128/136)
7. LSU, 11.056 (W’s: 11, +.056, 155/147)
8. Alabama, 9.474 (W’s: 9, -.474, 136/150)
9. Kentucky, 8.927 (W’s: 7, -1.927, 135/157)
10. Tennessee, 7.780 (W’s: 8, +.020, 112/146)
11. Miss. St., 7.054 (W’s 5, -2.054, 133/187)
12. Georgia*, 3.834 (W’s: 3, -.834, 89/177)
*Note that Vandy and Georgia have only played 19 games, so it’s a little apples-to-oranges ranking them by straight wins. But they wouldn’t have shifted in these rankings working by win percentage, so I left it alone. Just know that Vandy’s much closer to Florida and Georgia to MSU than it might look like.
So there you go.
— Not a ton of differences between this ranking and the straight scoring margin efforts, but it does show precisely how unfortunate Auburn’s been this season; at nearly two wins under their Pythag, they’ve been the best team in the West by a narrow margin over the Hogs, and “should” be even atop the division rather than two games back. Only Miss. St. and Kentucky have been unluckier, mathematically speaking.
That’s not to say Auburn’s season has been some sort of tragedy; two games over the course of 21 isn’t that big a deal, there’s still three series for things to even themselves out, and missing Florida on the schedule remains a huge break. The important thing is to note that unlike the conventional preseason wisdom that would see Auburn being this close to the division lead (and ahead of LSU) as a fluke, the opposite is true. We’re 7 series and 21 games into the SEC schedule. Auburn is every bit as good as anyone in the league (save Carolina), and the fluke is that they’re not any higher ranked than they are.
— South Carolina’s on the fortunate side to have reached 16 wins already, but they’ve still been the best team in the SEC by a fairly wide margin. That game’s lead at the top of the conference standings has been earned. (Still, what’s with giving up 28 runs to the Tide last weekend? They hadn’t given up more than 15 in any other SEC series this season, and it’s not like the Tide are a collection of bashers.)
— I’ve been harping on Ole Miss for weeks, and here you go: according to the Pythag, the Rebels are not only the luckiest team in the league, they’re nearly a full game luckier than any other team is lucky or unlucky. With series against Arkansas and Auburn still to come, you have to think they’ll come back to the pack.
— It’s not news in this space, but LSU–ranked as high as No. 2 in the country just a few weeks ago–hasn’t been a victim of circumstance in slipping to fourth in the West. They’re just not that good.
— Florida hasn’t been as good as their record–only the Rebels are more fortunate–but damn, outscoring LSU by 14 runs over the course of a weekend is quite the performance, no matter how badly the Tigers have collapsed.
— Poor Vandy. Not only were they already more than a game behind their Pythag, but they lost two huge potential wins when that series with Georgia was rained out. They could easily be sitting on 13 wins or so by now.
— Broadly speaking, it appears that the league isn’t quite as unbalanced as the conference standings would suggest. Their split between the 7 haves and 5 have-nots isn’t all that inaccurate, but the width of the gap between the two is–most of the have-nots ought to be a little better, record-wise, and most of the haves a little worse.
Photo by Leffie Dailey.