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…And Last in the National League
2007-04-17 10:07
by Mike Carminati

While Phils have been idle over the last couple of days awaiting the nor'easter's exit stage right, they have fallen to the lowly state of not only last in the NL East but last in the National League overall. A win by the Royals yesterday would have left them last in the majors overall.

The Phils though just percentage points behind the execrable Washington Nationals were dumped into last by two straight wins by Nats, over the Mets and Braves, and three wins in their last four ballgames. Yesterday they road Matt Chico's arm to a 5-1 victory over the division-leading Braves (what was Harpo unavailable?).

The last time the Phils were the worst team in the NL on April 16 was 1987 when they were 1-8 (en route to a 80-82 record). They have only been last in the NL by this time of year seven other times (1985, 1977, 1969, 1968, 1942, 1924, and 1909).

For all those who are still saying the Phils always start slow, this is not a slow start. This an historically bad start. The red flags should be leaping out at the Phils' brass. Stand Pat Gillick needs to start thinking about ending some of his experiments like foregoing a bullpen, allowing Wes Helms to play third regularly, using two center fielders in the starting outfield, and using a washed-up batting instructor as a manager.

Teams that started the season 3-8 (214 in total) have averaged a .427 winning percentage or a 69-93 record over a 162-game schedule and have averaged a sixth-place finish. Yes, some of those teams did have some modicum of success. Nine made the playoffs, five won their league, and three won the Series. But realistically these results are becoming more and more remote. Within one standard deviation of the average winning percentage, which prescribes the expected results for the bulk of these teams, teams ended up between 54-108 with a .336 winning percentage and 84-78 with a .518 winning percentage. Sure, the Phils could easily end up at the high end of that spectrum, but even so that would represent more of the malaise of mediocrity that the team has been steeped in for years. Remember how high expectations were just two weeks ago?

If you look at teams that were 3-8 and were in last place in their league, the prospect gets ever slightly less bleak. They too project to a 69-93 record and sixth place. However, just 4% have made the playoffs (same as 9 of 214 above) but 3% won their league title as opposed to 2% above. And the end of the spectrum is 85-77, one game better. As if that matters.

So where are we. Freddy Garcia starts his first game as a Phil tonight after a two-day delay and while the countdown to Charlie Manuel's dismissal has been on hold….and Leon is getting laaaaaarger.

2007-04-17 15:10:42
1.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
I'm not a Phils fan, so I'm not trying to buck up anyone's spirits here, but...

11 games being a significant predictor of the future? I'm skeptical.

Try any of these analyses:

- Correlation between teams winning percentage after 11 games and teams winning percentage at the end of the season. Report back p and r.
- Same correlation as above, but include all teams with winning percentages between 0 and .365.
- Relatinship between teams that go 3-8 over any 11 game stretch. Mean and Standard Deviation of that set of teams final winning percentage.

It's great that you found 200 cases, but I'm not convinced it is a strong correlation.

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