39 is the magic number

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Fascinating stuff from Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated. Actually, it’s fascinating stuff from Orioles’ pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, which Lemire passes along: if you face more than 39 opposing hitters, you’re screwed. If you face fewer than 39, you’re probably going to win.

There is an easily intuitive element to this of course: duh, the more hitters a team faces, the more likely your team is to be giving up a lot of runs.  But that’s not the takeaway. The takeaway is how critical that 39th hitter is. How the odds of winning or losing shift so dramatically when that 39th batter comes to the plate.

Go read Lemire’s piece. It’s fascinating stuff. Baseball, because of it’s isolated data sets and stops in the action allow for all kinds of fascinating things like this to be studied. And every time I read about a new one, I love the sport even more.