Here’s one of the thousands of examples we could use to demonstrate what this post is about:
A “Double” in the books, thanks to a lucky bounce
Luck can be measured. Maybe not perfectly, but it can be measured. We could go on for hours about this topic, and perhaps there will be a few follow-up posts to come, but for now, we’d like to just give a quick overview on how luck is measured, and then move on to the things you care about most , like the luckiest and unluckiest teams in 2016.
Here’s how we measure luck:
- Cheap Hits: a play that goes down as a Hit in the books, but was not hit harder than a “2” on our 1–9 well-hit rating scale.
- Hard Outs: any Out with a contact rating of 8 or 9 on our 1–9 well-hit rating scale.
- Bad Walk Calls: A hitter draws a walk on a pitch that is clearly inside the strike zone.
- Bad Strikeout Calls: A hitter strikes out looking on a pitch that is clearly out of the strike zone.
- Other Luck Factors: This can be anything from the bad-hop single to a ball lost in the sun, and a host of other things in between. We’ll show a few more GIF’s at the end of this for your viewing pleasure.
Some plays are lucky for the offense. By definition, those same plays are unlucky for the defense. One team’s luck is another team’s unluck (or, something like that). In other words, the net luck is zero. It balances out between offense and defense.
Here’s the luck factor leaderboard through Sunday:
Please understand a couple of things here:
- In no way are we taking any credit away from teams like the Rangers. Luck is just one reason they’ve been great this year. It’s not the only reason.
- The list is made up of raw plays. Not all plays are equal in terms of how much they impact the game. A seeing-eye base hit when your team is up by 10 runs doesn’t matter as much as the one at the end of this article, for example.
Now for a few more interesting findings in the Luck data to date:
- The big reason for the Astros -68 net luck is the amount of cheap hits they’ve allowed — a league-leading 86. Here’s one, just to illustrate. What we have here is a ball hit about 55 feet, a pitcher losing his glove, and a run scoring single in the books:
One of the 86 “Cheap Hits” against the Astros this season
The Brewers lead in the “Other Luck Factors” department with 22. Here is just one example — a line drive off the pitcher that slows the ball enough to prevent an RBI:
The luck of the comebacker
Finally, here is perhaps the biggest luck factor play this season in terms of how much impact it had on the game. This is your basic bloop single / wind-aided walk-off, which scored the winning run from first base:
Kemp playing deep, wind blowing, and kicking the ball away after a dive. Giants Win!
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