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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bill Conlin sets odds for Phils to win 2009 NL Pennant, Vegas goes broke

Bill Conlin, of the Philadelphia Daily News, wrote an article today with this headline: "Phillies have better than even chance of winning second straight pennant." Unless the Phils just traded Mike Zagurski for Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, this is not even close to true.

"This is a weak National League overall once again and I give the Phillies a better than even chance of winning their second straight pennant."

This is PURE INSANITY. What are the odds the Phillies make the playoffs? Well, only 4 out of the 16 NL teams get in. Let's give the Phillies a very very very generous 75% chance to make the playoffs. Then they must win the first series. Let's give them a very very very generous 75% chance to win that series. Then, they must win the NLCS. Again, we'll give them a very very very generous 75% chance to win that series.

So, they must complete three consecutive steps, and they have a 75% chance to complete each step. The math is simple: 0.75*0.75*0.75 = 0.422: This dream scenario would give the Phillies a 42% chance to win the NL pennant.

To actually get above "even," each of those steps would have to be 80 percent. Either Conlin is a raving lunatic and he thinks the 2009 Phillies are the 1931 Athletics, or he is making an insane prediction for no other reason than to complete his article on time.*

Now, when you consider that in reality, no playoff series is ever more than a 65% edge, and you consider that the Phils must compete with four very good, much improved (moreso than the Phillies, dare I say) teams in the NL East this year - not including the Montreal Nationals - you'll see that the 42% chance of winning the pennant is probably more than twice their actual chances.

In short, if Conlin is taking bets, I'm pulling an Al Bundy on my mortgage and betting the field.


*These two scenarios are equally possible

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