The Pythagorean Theorem And Regular Season Wins

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It’s hard to forget the days of elementary school when we were taught about something called the Pythagorean Theorem in math class. It's not surprising that it could be useful for sports betting strategy.

The calculations dealt with the area of triangles and were written as a2 +b2 = c2. Nearly 3,000 years after Pythagoras created his system a baseball researcher by the name of Bill James found that equation could also be used for baseball. James realized that a team’s expected wins could be determined by the number of runs it scored and by the number of runs it allowed. His formula looked like this:

Expected wins – runs scored (2)/ runs scored (2)+ runs allowed (2)

The fact that the system is so similar to the Pythagorean Theorem led to James’ theory being dubbed as the Pythagorean Expectation.

Let’s pretend that the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals will score 718 runs and allow 649 runs. The first step is to take 718 (2), which is 515,524 and then multiply 649 (2), which is 421,201. We then add the two totals to arrive at 936,725. The calculation will now be 515,524 divided by 936,725, which equals .5503. This projected total indicates the Cardinals would win 55% of their games. Forecasted over the course of an entire season, it would mean St. Louis would win 89 of its 162 games.

The numbers aren’t necessarily going to be exact with a margin for error but it gives us a good idea of where their actual win total should land around. The numbers calculated over the years have shown just how close the Pythagorean Expectation has been in several instances and it is an excellent way to make projections.

Similar System For Football?

It didn’t take long after James’ baseball theory for handicappers from other sports to attempt to create similar systems including in particularly for football. For American football, an exponent of 2.37 is used very often but a growing number of pro handicappers have suggested the number should be closer to 2.5. The 2012 NFL season provided us with perfect examples in the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. Both teams had numbers that suggest they should have won 2.5 more games than they did in 2011. Both were expected to do better and they did with Miami improving from 6-10 to 7-9 while Minnesota improved from 3-13 to 10-6.

On the other hand, the Green Bay Packers went from 15-1 to 11-5 while the Kansas City Chiefs went from 7-9 to 2-14. These dramatic shifts are the perfect examples of teams either exceeding expectations or not reaching expectations in a way that can be predicted using this system.

Pythagorean Expectations Can Be Useful

It’s important to remember that while no sports betting system will guarantee you win every time, these Pythagorean Expectations can be excellent tools for gaining an edge and helping to forecast outcomes.

The theories used in business and in life can be applied in sports handicapping and the Pythagorean Expectation is the perfect example of this. Take the time to do the research and figure out how the best way to use this system is and you will immediately find yourself with an edge when it comes to projecting season win totals.