Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Odds of the Minnesota Twins Going 0-9 to Start the Season

I'm a huge Minnesota Twins fans, so their horrible start to the season was heart-breaking to watch.  They started the season 0-9 (I'm writing this post about a month before posting it, so maybe they lost 10, 11, 12, or more games in a row.  I really hope it stops at 9!!!).  If we assume that both teams in a game have an equal chance of winning, similar to the equal chances of flipping a coin and getting heads or tails, we can determine the odds of a team starting 0-9.

The odds of losing any individual game are 50%.  The odds of losing two games in a row are (50%)*(50%) = 25%.  The odds of losing nine games in a row is 50% times 50% repeated nine times.  This gives odds of 1 in 512.  Wow!  If they lose heir tenth game in a row, the odds become 1 in 1056.  Yikes!  

Before we get too carried away with these numbers, let's me make it clear that the odds of losing a game are NOT 50% as teams have different skill levels based on players, injuries, home/away, day/night, etc.  Really bad teams have a greater than 50% chance of losing a game, and therefore the odds of losing nine in a row wouldn't be nearly as high.  Really good teams have a lesser than 50% of losing a game, and therefore the odds of losing nine in a row would be much higher, although at this point, can one call a team really good if they lose nine in a row?  

The other thing to understand is that, if everything is equal, the odds of any nine game stretch are 1 in 512.  A team could go WLWLLLWWW and the odds are 1 in 512.  A team could go LWLWWLWWW and the odds are also 1 in 512.  Thus the odds of 1 in 512 mean very little in baseball.  In other words, there are 512 nine came W/L combinations.  The odds of every team after nine games having the record (and correct W/L order) they do is 1 in 512.  

What's the point of this post then.  Well, I'm just trying to put some sort of positive spin on the Twins losing their first nine games (and hopefully no more)!

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