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It's Better to be Lucky than Good: The 2009 Astros through Five Weeks

In light of DQ's recent post on the Astros' odds of making the playoffs, I wanted to take a look at part of the way Baseball Prospectus determines their odds- based on a team's current record, and their adjusted record based on Equivalent Runs Scored/Equivalent Runs Allowed. EqA is basically the next step in measuring the value of a baseball player/team and predicting the runs scored/runs allowed in the future.

So let's take a look. There are four "levels" of standings on that page:

1) the standings as they appear in the Chronicle

2) the adjusted standings based on our Pythagorean record

3) the adjusted standings based on EqA

4) the adjusted standings based on EqA and adjusted for strength of schedule

Through Tuesday the 12th, the Astros Pythagorean Record is:

Runs Scored Runs Against Wins Losses
133 147 14.1 16.9


In the first evaluation, we're right where we should be based on runs scored/allowed. If anything, we've been ever so unlucky.

Our adjusted record based on EqA:

Runs Scored Runs Allowed Wins Losses
135 161 13 18


This was to be expected: the Astros don't take a lot of walks, are not a good base running team, and have a relatively low batting average. This all comes to roost in EqA.

Finally, our EqA adjusted for strength of schedule:

Runs Scored Runs Allowed Wins Losses
141 159 13.7 17.3


That record is good for a 44.1% win percentage, which translates to 71.5 wins this season. So better than Baseball Prospectus had for us, but not near good enough to contend for the playoffs. 

The Pirates project to win 77.8 games this season, though their RS-RA allowed differential (-9) is only five better than our own (-14) at this point.