There was a fair amount of angst among Houston Astros fans as the team got off to a slower than expected start. Maybe it should have been predicted, as the Astros’ 2022 start closely mirrored their 2021 start of 14-12 in April.
Last season Houston went 15-12 in May, before the team took off, combing for a 35-17 mark in June and July, a stretch that made up 18 of the 28 games the team finished over .500 (95-67).
By now, most of us are familiar with the Pythagorean Expectation for wins and losses which is based solely on runs scored and given up. That’s it. Plug those two numbers in and you’re given an expected win percentage, multiply that by 162 and poof, you have your expected wins.
It’s a good guideline, but one I noticed didn’t necessarily fit teams like the Astros that tend to have more than the usual number of blowouts, at least over the last few seasons. So, I developed my own calculation based on not only runs scored and given up, but also wins and losses.
I back tested my calculation five years and on average it came closer to the actual number of wins than Pythagorean, not just for the Astros, but for MLB as a whole.
This is important: I’m not saying it’s mathematically sound or a perfect solution. It is neither. What it is is generally fairly close to right.
For example, last season the Pythagorean Expectation for the Astros was 102 wins. My calculation was 98 and the Astros finished with 95.
Not perfect, but closer.
That said, this early in the season, projecting a win total is dangerous business, as things can and will change. So take this with a grain of salt as 84% of the Astros games are still ahead of us.
Astros’ Projected Standings – Games Through May 5, 2022
It’s also important to realize that I’m not saying the Astros will end the season with 91 wins in a vacuum.
The calculation is projecting 91 wins if the current run differential grows at the same ratio AND the winning percentage stays the same. That goes for all of these teams. If either of those change (and they likely will), the win projections will change.
This formula also isn’t predicting how the Astros will play in the future, but rather how many wins they’ll have at the end of the season if they continue to play the way they have. In short, “They are currently playing like a 91 win team.”
As mentioned above, the Astros winning percentage took off last June and July and those two months made up the bulk of the games the team finished over .500 (18 of 28, to be exact).
That could happen this year, too and if it does my calculation will adjust as the season progresses.
Think of it as not the final answer, but the first estimate of a six estimate sequence, that should get closer to the final answer as the season progresses.