Twins: Game Over

Twins 2015They came so very, very close! After four years of season-long disappointment and mediocrity, my Twins were blessed with, literally, a winning season. Last Sunday they ended the 2015 season with a record of 83-79 (.512) — four games above the .500 mark!

The Post-Season ship left the dock on Tuesday; my Twins were not on board, but they only barely missed having a berth. It wasn’t until the penultimate game last Saturday they knew the ship would sail without them. They were in the hunt that long!

So thanks for a fun season, Twins! (And an even better one next year!)

This year’s post-season fun started with the AL Wildcard game Tuesday night. The Yankees hosted the Astros in a do-or-die loser-goes-home game to see who would be the “real” wildcard team.

I was delighted to see the Astros, as the visiting team, shut the Yankees out, 3-0! So bye-bye Yankees, no soup for you. Astros now face the AL Division winner, the Kansas City Royals.


Go Rangers! Go Cubs!

Tonight the Pirates host the Cubs in the matching deal on the NL side. The winner faces the NL Division winner, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Texas Rangers

Go Rangers!

Minnesota’s sister team[1], the Texas Rangers, got the AL-West pennant and will play the Toronto Blue Jays. Nothing against the Jays, but I gotta root for my sis.

I cannot, though I would normally, root for my Division loyalty, in this case the Kansas City Royals.[4]

I don’t like the chip-on-shoulder way the team has been acting this season, so for me they’ve gone from the little engine that almost ran the table last year to an annoying relative I wish had missed the party.

On the NL side, I only care that the Cardinals lose. Immediately. Given their performance this season (they won 100 games), I suspect this will be another disappointing World Serious for me. I’m not sure any AL team can beat them.


As for the Twins, they did okay. For fans, the original ask was pretty much just, “Please don’t suck again this year!” When it became clear they were playing at a different level, our hope rose, and the ask became, “Give us a winning season! Finish above .500, please!”

During Mighty May, some of us began to entertain thoughts of post-season. The World Serious seemed maybe a little presumptuous (but the last year we won 20 in May was 1987!), but it really seemed like we could at least get a foot into the post-season door.

And you know what? We came pretty close. We actually had a chance up until the last two games. Granted, the chance became smaller and smaller as the season wound out, but the chance existed!

I had some fun tracking the Twins’ dwindling chances using a simple combination table trick you might find useful some day. The first version involves two parties (teams, groups, people, whatever) whose results do not interact or interfere with each other. This results in a table where every cell is a combined outcome for the two parties.

83 84 85 86 Min
LAA win 0 win 1 win 2 win 3
83 83:83 83:84 83:85 83:86 win 0
84 84:83 84:84 84:85 84:86 win 1
85 85:83 85:84 85:85 85:86 win 2
86 86:83 86:84 86:85 86:86 win 3

For example, the Twins and Angels played different teams during the final three games, but the combined outcomes determined who, if either, would make it to post-season. The above table shows the 16 possible outcomes.

The Twins win when the right side of the pair of win numbers is higher than the left side. Those outcomes are shaded blue. The Angels win (shaded red) in the reverse case. You can see each team has a 6-in-16 chance (37.5%) of winning (or losing), plus a 4-in-16 chance (25%) of a tie.[8]

The Twins lost their first game, which means they couldn’t make it to 86 wins (the right-most data column). The Angels won their first game, which means they had more than 83 wins (the top-most data row). So we adjust the table by removing those possibilities:

83 84 85 86 Min
LAA win 0 win 1 win 2
83 83:83 83:84 83:85 83:86
84 84:83 84:84 84:85 84:86 win 1
85 85:83 85:84 85:85 85:86 win 2
86 86:83 86:84 86:85 86:86 win 3

Now there are nine possible outcomes. The advantage is clearly Angels. Minnesota has only one chance to win while the Angels still have six. And there are two chances to at least tie.

Note that the current status, in this case 84:83, is always in the upper left corner of the table. In the table below, the status after two games each was 85:83.

As it happened, the second games for both teams went the same way; the Twins lose, the Angels won. Either of those killed Minnesota’s chances:

83 84 85 86 Min
LAA win 0 win 1
83 83:83 83:84 83:85 83:86
84 84:83 84:84 84:85 84:86
85 85:83 85:84 85:85 85:86 win 2
86 86:83 86:84 86:85 86:86 win 3

There are four outcomes now, but it doesn’t matter — it’s all Angels. The removed row contained the Twins’ winning chance; so did the removed column. The ties are gone, too. As far as the Angels were concerned, the Twins were sunk.

You can make a table like that for any situation where outcomes aren’t related, but where the combined outcomes matter.

The table looks a bit different if the teams play each other, if one’s outcome implies the reverse outcome for the other. Then the table looks like this:

87 88 89 90 Tex
LAA win 0 win 1 win 2 win 3
83 83:87 83:88 83:89 83:90 win 0
84 84:87 84:88 84:89 win 1
85 85:87 85:88 win 2
86 86:87 win 3

The Texas Rangers were playing the Angels. A win for the Rangers was a loss for the Angels. Unlike the above tables, only the cells shaded blue are possible outcomes. (You can see the Rangers win regardless.)

As always, the upper-left corner is the current status; start there. You can move right or down (but not diagonally) for three moves (games). You’ll end up in a blue square. Moving right is a Rangers win; moving down is an Angels win.

As mentioned previously, the Angels won the first two:

87 88 89 90 Tex
LAA win 0 win 1
83 83:87 83:88 83:89 83:90
84 84:87 84:88 84:89
85 85:87 85:88 win 2
86 86:87 win 3

But the Rangers won the last one and closed out their season with 88 wins.

Maybe you’ll find the idea useful someday. I amused myself making tables for the various teams still in play and watching as various windows (almost literally) closed.

And I’ll say it again. My Twins got pretty close! When it comes down to the penultimate game, that’s a pretty exciting season!

Thanks Twins!!

[1] Both are former Washington Senators teams; both are the only two AL teams named after their state[2]; both feature a prominent capital letter “T” in their logos.

[2] No, the Yankees are named after NY City[3]. So are the Mets.

[3] Their nickname, after all, is the “Bronx Bombers” — the Bronx is a city (a borough, actually… same thing).

[4] Normally I root for the home team first, a Division team second, an AL team third[5], an MLB team fourth[6], a USA team fifth, an Earth team sixth, a Sol system team seventh[7], a local galactic arm team eighth,…

[5] Except the Yankees.

[6] Except the Cardinals (or Braves (or Giants)).

[7] Except the Mars Red Dogs (or the Triton Titans, but the Titan Tritons are cool).

[8] This assumes, and I think the assumption is well-warranted, that game outcomes are essentially random — coin flips — 50:50 chances. Given the nature of baseball, the outcome of a game may indeed have a lot to do with chance.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

10 responses to “Twins: Game Over

  • Wyrd Smythe

    So far I’m 1-0 with the Astros beating the Yankees. Tonight is a tough one, love both teams, but I gotta root for the Cubs.

    Then the post-season should go: Astros gotta beat the Royals, and Cubs gotta beat the Cardinals. Those two things are unlikely but (to me) highly desired.

    Rangers over Jays is easy (although the Rangers are facing a tough club in their own ballpark), but I’m conflicted by Dodgers v. Mets… a(n adopted) home town team versus an actual home town team, plus the latter a beloved underdog. I’ll be fine either way, but I guess I root… oh, this is hard… Mets.

    Rangers finish off the Astros (more likely: Jays face the Royals), and the Mets (or Dodgers) face the Cubs (ha!). Safe bet it’ll be Cards facing the Dodgers (or Mets — I think it’ll be close).

    Ultimately, I’m guess it’ll really be Cardinals and Jays (or the Royals). Realistically, maybe the Pirates or Dodgers can take the Cards. I can see Dodgers-Rays; I’d like that and actually root for the NL team!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Whoo-Hoo! The Cubbies won!! The bad news, boys: Now you have to face the damn Cardinals. You’re gone 8-11 with them on the season. Now you need to really step up!

    (So far I’m 2-0 on post-season ask!)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    So both wildcard games were shut-outs, and in both cases the away team won.Will that be a harbinger? Remember last year — two WC teams ended up in the WS!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Of the four games played yesterday (Tex @ Tor, Hou @ KC, ChC @ SL, NYM @ LAD), two involved away team wins (Tex and Mets). Sadly, the two home teams I most wanted to see lose (KC and SL) didn’t.

    But I’m 6-2 on hoped for results so far. (OTOH, looks like I’ll be wrong about the Jays or Royals. I’m not sad about that!)

    The ALDS will shift to Texas tomorrow and Monday. Games two of the NLDS are today. (Go Cubs! Go Mets!)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Another four-game day yesterday (same players, but away-home reversed), and the CS teams are still up for grabs. The AL side is all tied up at 2 each (a sore point) while — astonishingly — the Cubs and Mets both have 2 wins to the Cards and Dodgers having only 1 (so the NL side is looking good)!

    The Astros lost a game yesterday they should have won (and thereby won the series). They were up 6-0 until KC came from behind in the eighth inning and scored 5. Then they scored 2 more in the ninth to win 9-6, damn them. Now the Astros have to win tomorrow as the away team (which they did do in the first game).

    The Rangers never really had a chance yesterday. They were down 7-0 when their turn came to bat in the bottom of the third. They scored a run then, and three more late in the game (the Jays added one more also), so they lost their second home game 4-8. It’s been a weird serious, this one — so far all wins have been by away teams! if that holds true, the Rangers will win tomorrow in Toronto.

    I’d way rather it be an all Texas CS, but it’s looking to be KC and Toronto. 😦

    But the Cubs took the Cards and play one more game (today) at home. Go Cubs, Go! One more win is all you need! 🙂

    The Mets likewise took the Dodgers and likewise have one more game at home that will clinch the title if they win. Go Mets!

    It’s actually possible the NLCS could be Mets-Cubs! [fingers-crossed]

    (I’m now 10-6 on hoped for results with an even 5-3 split between the leagues.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Whoo Hoo! Cubs won their Division Serious! Go Cubs, Go!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And the Mets won theirs. Whoo Hoo, again! So it’ll be a Cubs-Mets NLCS. Fun!!

    Sadly, both ALDS series went the wrong way. It’ll be Jays-Royals for the ALCS. First time I’ll care more about the NL then the AL!

  • charmarie221

    I know you want the Royals out, but I really REALLY need the Jays out. After the horror of our season ending game 5 you can understand, right? And I’d love for the Cubs to win the NL and take out KC… but I just can’t have Toronto, and their disgusting fan base, go to the World Serious. Seriously.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      No worries, we’re on the same page. I’ve had to sort of force myself into it, but the Toronto fans must be punished. And, what the heck, the Royals are in my Division…

      Cubs would be great! But it’s looking like Mets-Royals. For me the biggie is: Not the Cards (ha!). I’d be okay with Dodgers (adopted hometown team, after all), but it’s interesting no “dynasty” clubs are in race. Go underdogs!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    So it’s down to Mets and Royals. Tonight it begins.


    If it doesn’t rain too much.

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