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One Paragraph on Comforting Math

Apparently, Buster Olney of the Four Letter ventures to say the Nats could be as bad as a 130-loss team. Funny Olney should pick that number. There is, of course, a relationship between a team's run differential and its winning percentage. While the relationship strains considerably as a team's wins or losses approach the edges of what is common, let's do a quick experiment with the Pythagorean formula. Over the past two decades (excluding strike years), the most runs allowed in a season is 1103 (Tigers, 1996) and the least runs scored in a season is 548 (Dodgers, 1992). If you plug those figures into Pythagoras, you get . . . a 32-130 record. Thus, in order for the Nats to be that inept---historically inept---they will require not only the worst pitching of recent memory but also the worst hitting (so bad it will match the worst performance of the five years leading up to the Offensive Explosion). I feel like I'm beatin' down a straw man, but to be clear about it: that ain't happenin'. As Capitol Punishment points out, a reasonable projection (as opposed to a subsequent result) is bad but not groin-grabbingly awful. And the reason is quickly apparent. Even allowing for an ultimate doomsday pitching scenario, it's impossible to project an offense sufficiently impotent to allow the team to reach even '62 Mets/'03 Tigers levels. Could that happen? Maybe, I guess. But it's not something you can credibly project beforehand. They say good pitching wins (many) ballgames. I suppose the corollary is you can't lose (many) ballgames unless you have bad hitting. Double that when discussing the chances of an historic result.