So I went to ESPN, to check out the preview for the Nats game tonight, and staring me right in the face was this picture:

Nats Favored Small

Yes, that says “Underdog” by the Cubs and “Favorite” by the Nats. Now, I know that Lannan is Washington’s best pitcher, and he’s going tonight. He leads the team in wins and starting pitcher ERA. He’s also second in Ks, even though he only strikes out 4 batters per 9 innings (at least Zimmermann can miss bats – actually Detwiler’s not bad at it either, he’s just other things to work out first). And Rich Harden has been pretty un-Harden-like all season. That is, he’s been healthy and bad, two things he rarely does. But still? Let’s look at what’s going on here.

First of all, these Accuscore folks have simulated this game more than 10,000 times, which sounds incredibly boring. In 25% of those game, Dunn hits a HR. This actually makes sense: 162/4=40.25, in other words, 40 HRs a year means you hit a HR in 25% of your games. It just seems kinda crazy when you see it written out there.

I guess it’s not THAT shocking that they’re favored to win. They aren’t a terrible team on paper, with their offensive numbers and their not-terrible starting pitchers. Of course, this game isn’t played on paper. Maybe simulations can’t take into effect boneheaded plays, taking time off while on the field, and the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. Perhaps Nationals Park field should be lined with paper, like the kind that you find on the bench in the exam room at a doctor’s office.

By Charlie