How to calculate the magic number of the Atlanta Braves
As we are about to enter September, “magic numbers” are becoming a common part of the baseball lexicon. So how do we easily calculate this for our Atlanta Braves.
I’ll admit it: it seems to me that every year I have to look for a site or a method to determine the “magic number” for the Atlanta Braves… eh… at least for that and the last 3 seasons where they have been in the first place.
First, a PSA for those who may not be quite familiar with the lingo: the magic number for a first-place team is the total number of their wins. and the losses to their closest rival that are necessary for the first place team to take first place.
There are websites dedicated to this mathematical mess. In fact, this site, while completely comprehensive, has actually muddied the waters by providing so much information that it takes several minutes of study just to figure out what you want to know.
Even most sites that attempt to explain the calculation often manage to take it simple and make it relatively complex.
So naturally we’re going to throw a hat in the ring and see if we can do a little better, because it’s really not that bad.
Take the real example of the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies in the standings Monday morning as it was written:
- ATLANTA. 70-59
- PHILADELPHIA CREAM. 66-64
STEP 1: How many games are left?
- ATLANTA: 33
- PHILLIE: 32
STEP 2: What could Philly do best in these games?
32-0 … giving them a 98-64 record. We know they won’t be perfect, but that’s not important.
STEP 3: What should the Braves do beat that?
Earn enough to get to 99 wins in total… 29 wins would. As the Braves still have 33 to play, it’s technically possible.
ENDED! This is the answer … 29.
You don’t have to worry about combining the wins and losses of the teams involved … just figure out which team you’re most afraid of, figure out their best possible record, then count how many wins are needed for your team. – the Braves, of course – to beat that.
Each new day after today, you can subtract one from that number for each Braves win. Where for every loss to the Phillies. Or you can just throw that out and start steps 1-3 again, starting with the current day records.
Once the magic number reaches zero… You won the division. Or Wild Card. Or home advantage. Or any contest you were trying to watch. It’s over at that point.
Now that you are armed with the secret formula, you can go out and show yourself at a sports bar,… or spend your time tackling something much more difficult… like figuring out the WAR or FIP statistics… or the US tax code. .
You’re welcome. Thanks for coming to my TED talk today.