Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Colorado Rockies won again today, 5-4 over Pittsburgh, giving the Denver-based franchise 16 wins in its last 17 games (game-by-game log). The spurt started about a week after Colorado fired manager Clint Hurdle and replaced him with Jim Tracy. As a managerial firing would suggest, the Rockies got off to a terrible start this season. From April 11-25, the team dropped 10 out of 12. As a further indication of how poorly the Rockies started the season, even with all their recent success they still trail the first-place L.A. Dodgers in the National League West by 9.5 games!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Kayla Braud of Eugene, Oregon finished her high-school softball career by getting a hit in 103 straight games. Even if, as is probably the case, her talent level is way above that of the pitchers she faced, you figure walks or a lucky catch by the opposition somewhere along the line would have ended her streak! (article, video).

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ichiro Suzuki's 27-game hitting streak, which I blogged about yesterday, is gone, just like that!


Randy Smith, who once held the NBA record for consecutive games played at 906, has died at age 60.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Seattle Mariner outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has now gotten a hit in 27 straight games, heading into tonight's action (Twins at Mariners). Though far away, to be sure, from Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak, Ichiro is considered by some writers to be among the major-leaguers most capable of going on a long streak. For one thing, he's gone on several streaks of 20-or-more games during his career. Further, he rarely walks, which maximizes the number of official at-bats (and thus chances to extend the streak) he gets in each game. With amazing regularity, Ichiro has been drawing almost exactly 50 walks per season in recent years. This article from a few days ago (when Ichiro's streak was at 25 games) provides additional background.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Today is the 20th anniversary of a 22-inning game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros (box score). Houston ultimately won, 5-4. From a streakiness perspective, the thing I've always remembered about this game is L.A.'s John Shelby going 0-for-10.

Looking at Shelby's career statistics, he clearly had a bad year with the bat in 1989, hitting only .183. (63-for-345). A .183 batting average translates into a .817 (i.e., 1 - . 183) failure rate on each at-bat. Raising .817 to the 10th power, for the probability of 10 successive failures (assuming independence of events), yields .133 as the likelihood of Shelby's going 0-for-10. We have not, of course, taken into account the quality of the opposing pitchers or any other factors, so this will have to be a rough estimate.

A 13% chance of Shelby going 0-for-10 is not astronomically small by any means. It's still fairly rare, however. The following figure shows Shelby's probabilities of getting 0, 1, 2, 3, etc., hits out of 10 at-bats. Not surprisingly, the likeliest scenarios were for him to get 1 or 2 hits. For the probability of 1 hit (and 9 failures), for example, we would take .817 to the 9th power, then multiply the result by .183, thus yielding .0297. There are 10 different ways to get exactly 1 hit out of 10 (i.e., in the first at-bat, or in the second, ... , or in the 10th), so we multiply .0297 X 10, yielding .297 (which is shown in the figure).

Shelby also had a higher probability of getting 3 hits in the game than 0 hits, but the chances start tailing off once we get to 4 hits. The above probabilities were obtained from the Vassar Binomial Calculator.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The first six games Roger Federer served Monday at the French Open, he won each at love. In other words, he won a perfect 24-of-24 points on his serve to open the match. Yet, Federer lost the first set. He could not break the serve of his opponent, Tommy Haas, and Haas prevailed in the first-set tie-breaker. Ultimately, Federer prevailed, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.