I think it’s now safe to say that the Brewers-Pirates series in 2010 defies logic. Yes, the Brewers are certainly a better team than the Pirates, but let’s explore just how ridiculous it is for a team to get outscored by 49 runs in 4 games.
First of all, let’s look at Pythagorean winning percentage.
Given that the Brewers have scored 53 runs and only allowed 4, that gives a pythagorean win percentage of .994. It’s probably unsurprising, but teams that score 53 runs and only allow 4 are expected to win 99.4% of the time.
Obviously, this doesn’t represent the true talent of the two teams. Even the best teams of all time have only won 75% of their games, and the worst teams (of the modern era) have all won at least 23.5%. Let’s take a look at this ridiculous series of games through the lens of a tool called the log5 method.
The log5 method was developed by Bill James as a tool to determine the probably that team A beats team B based on their win percentage – whether that’s from standings, from pythagorean record, or from some other measure. Here is the formula:
A - A * B
WPct = ----------------------------------
A + B - 2 * A * B
Even if the Pirates are an exactly replacement level team – a .280 winning percentage – a .750 winning percentage team would only be expected to win 88% of their games. Only a team expected to win 98.5% of its games – 159.5 of 162 – would be expected to win 99.4% of its games against a replacement level team – and I think the Pirates are much better than replacement level, as a replacement level team would only win 48 games, and this Pirate team should be able to win 65-70 at least.
That means that the Brewers have played like a team that is at least 151 wins above replacement against the Pirates. That’s roughly 86 WAR out of the lineup, or 9 Albert Pujolses. That’s another 65 out of the 4 starting pitchers and the bullpen – 4 Zack Greinkes and 6 Mariano Riveras comes out to about 66 WAR even in their best seasons.
There’s no other way to put it – this stretch Milwaukee has put together against the Pirates is ridiculous.