2008 Pirates’ Season: Another Exercise in Futility

Well, the regular season is over and the Pirates’ season can be summarized as follows:

The Pirates are now the team with the longest currently active streak of consecutive losing seasons in any major American sport. The last year they had a winning season was 1992, which is more than half of my lifetime ago. If they don’t have a winning season next year (which, let’s face it, does not look very likely), they will take over sole possession of one of the most disgraceful records in professional sports.

As I mentioned in my post on the sports graph paper I developed, I have been charting the Pirates’ win fraction for the last few seasons. With this year’s season at a close, I can summarize my findings: despite a bunch of changes in the Pirates’ organization over the last few years – a new GM, new manager, new coaches, and many new players – the Pirates’ final win fraction has not changed significantly over the last four seasons. Specifically, they have finished with a win fraction of between 0.410 and 0.420 in each of the last four seasons. That means that over the last 4 years, they have either won 66, 67, or 68 games per season. Evidently, all the changes they have made have done precisely nothing to help the team win.


From the graph above, it’s clear that despite vastly different performance early in the season, the Pirates always manage to regress back to approximately 0.415 by the end of the year. If you’d like to play around with the data I used to create the above plot, take a look at this tab-delimited text file of the Pirates’ total wins and win fraction vs. number of games completed. You might have fun or you might get depressed. You’ve been warned.

3 Responses to “2008 Pirates’ Season: Another Exercise in Futility”

  1. October 6, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Perhaps this could be sent along to the team management.

    Maybe we need an equivalent to the “Reverse the Cruse” phrase for the Pirates … Let’s remain fans, it’s not the players’ faults that the management is deficient. Right? And let’s get ESPN or MLBTV so we can watch baseball when we grow up and leave grad school.

  2. 2 Jeff H.
    October 6, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Hey Colin – Your Wife has some excellent insights. Also a great point about getting ESPN/MLBTV. Nice call, Heather! :) (Btw, I have to throw this in here – if y’all are considering DirecTV, that would be an excellent call – and they have a nice referral… “system”… that benefits both parties. :) )

    It’s too bad we don’t get TBS at work – or a TV – or radio – for that matter. Let’s gooo Good Guys – 5th do-or-die game for us in the last 7 games – whew.

  3. 3 Jeff H.
    October 6, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Whoops – I forgot to say that you also have excellent insights. :) I think it’s particularly interesting, because preseason calls had the ‘rates has having pretty good young pitching that was poised to take a collective big step this year. In fact, I drafted a couple ‘rates starters on my two fantasy teams – one league I won, but that was due to my mainstay Buehrle and my-I’ve-always-been-high-on-pitcher Gavin Floyd. Tim Lincecum didn’t hurt either. No, he did not. Ha. Who knows, it could be a bay rays-like turnaround next year at pnc, especially ’cause y’all will be back there! Well, of course, it also goes without saying that I hope the rays don’t making it to the world series this year. :)

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