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22-1 - What Is It Good For?

The Phillies won a game last night.  In the actual standings, that's all it was -- just another win.

But, for those who look to advanced metrics, last night's game was more than that.  Sabermetricians have developed ways to evaluate a team's won/loss record based on other metrics to determine whether a team is playing above or below what its actual on-field performance would otherwise dictate.

The simplest, and most well known, of these metrics is Bill James' Pythagorean Record.  This measure looks just to runs scored and runs given up to determine what a team's record should be.

A more complicated system is Baseball Prospectus' Third-Order Wins.  This measure adjusts runs scored for luck as well as strength of schedule.

More detailed explanations can be found from following the links, but the basic idea is that whereas the actual win total is derived from actual wins (yes, brilliant, I know), these other metrics look to runs scored and runs given up, or some variation thereof.

Which leads to the question - what did last night's 22-1 win do for these measures?  The answer - quite a lot:

Before After
Wins Win % Wins Win %
Actual 42.0 0.532 43.0 0.538
Pyth 41.4 0.524 43.9 0.549
BP 3rd Order 38.5 0.487 40.2 0.503

A 22-1 win in game 80 improved the Phillies' actual record by just 1 win. But, the team's Pythagorean record improved by 2.5 wins, and its third-order record improved by 1.7 wins. Not bad for one game's worth of work.