Posted 20 July 2007 - 11:45 AM
Trying to define ".500 stretches" is difficult because it's based entirely on how large of an interval you're looking over and at what point in the season you're looking. As it's been mentioned, a team can win its first 81 games and then lose the remaining 81. Are they a .500 team? Of course. They're also a .500 team if you take a sample out of the middle of the season. But of course you can sample from the first half and show they're a 1.000 team, or you can show they're a 0.000 team, and a whole range of Win% values by favoring one side or the other.
I like using the monthly method but the problem with that is that there's not going to be the same amount of games in each month. I'd suggest looking at the season using two intervals - an 18 game interval and a 6 game interval. Both of these numbers are nice because they're factors of 162 and they're even - meaning you can have .500 intervals. The 6-game interval would obviously be a bit more "volatile" as factors like strength of opposition creep in, but it can capture more "local" data than the 18-game swath - for instance, if a team wins 9 in a row and then loses 9 in a row, the 18-game interval shows them at .500, but the three six-game intervals show them as having one winning interval, a .500 interval, and a losing interval.
I don't have a lot of time for breaking up previous seasons at the moment, but here's a quick look at the '07 Sox season thus far:
@KC, @TEX - SEA, LAA, @TOR - @TOR, NYY, TOR
6-Game: 3-3, 4-2, 5-1
TOR, @BAL, @NYY - OAK, SEA, @MIN - @TOR, BAL
6-Game: 4-2, 4-2, 5-1
DET, ATL - ATL, @NYY, @TEX - @TEX, CLE, NYY
6-Game: 4-2, 5-1, 4-2
NYY, @OAK, @ARI - @ARI, COL, SF - SF, @ATL, @SD
6-Game: 2-4, 3-3, 5-1
@SD, @SEA, TEX - TEX, TB - @DET, TOR
6-Game: 2-4, 4-2, 2-4
TOR, KC, CWS
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. I'd look at the 6-Game Totals and say that the '07 Red Sox look very good - a majority of their intervals are above .500. I'd say that the team's problem hasn't been playing .500, it's been playing poorly (three 2-4 intervals since June, and the best they can hope for of the current interval is 2-4) with some sprinklings of decent intervals in there (thank you D-Rays, Rangers and Giants). The results may produce more 3-3 (and 9-9) intervals if you adjust the "phase" or perhaps move postponed games into their original intervals, but it seems there hasn't been a consistent stretch of .500 play, just a few good intervals mixed in well with some equally bad intervals.