View Full Version : Luck

11-08-2006, 05:37 PM
What role, if any, does luck play in baseball? If it plays a role, in what ways and how does it effect outcomes?

On the one hand luck is nearly unmeasurable and certinally unable to be predicted in any fashion. On the other hand, we can all recoginize when a team's luck is "going their way" (geting all the calls, hits are falling, strikes are being called, etc) so there is some level of tangibility and value to it.

You can't build a mediocre team and expect luck to carry you to victory yet all good teams on paper hope for good luck to come their way and help them obtain the brass ring.

I'm guessing that views on "luck" will run the spectrum from irrlevant to essential.

Luck plays a role in every aspect of baseball from scouting, to player/trade availablity, to hitting, pitching, catching and running to schedule construction.

So I'm leaving the question very broad and open ended.

Johnny Footstool
11-08-2006, 05:57 PM
Luck plays a role in everything. The length of a baseball season is such that it minimizes the effects of luck, but luck still has an effect.

You can try to make your own luck through preparation, skill, hard work, talent, and training, but you're still going to get bad hops, umps with a wide strike zone, freak injuries, wind gusts, and a thousand other things that can influence the outcome of a game and a season. Those things are beyond your control. The trick is to discover how to improve those things that you can control.

11-08-2006, 05:57 PM
When you play a 162 game schedule, you have to have some luck...but you have to have talent as well.

Cardinals for example...they had talent, especially when healthy, but it also was some luck in the fact that the Astros and the Reds couldn't catch them.....also after having some injury issues, they were still able to be healthy enough and have their talent able to step it up when it mattered....if Pujols had been hurt, or Carpenter, or Rolen, or all 3 (pick any combo)....could have been a different outcome anywhere on the board.

It was also luck that Weaver actually got good for a short time.

It goes hand in hand. Without talent, you're doomed.....without luck, you're doomed.....

You need both.

Look at the Yanks.....talented as all hell, but it didn't matter in the end

11-08-2006, 06:20 PM
i remember watching a game 2 yrs age where weathers came into pitch for reds with bases loaded. he threw his breaking stuff and struck the guy out to marty's saying "great job by david weathers"
watching a replay of big pitch clearly showed it would have been ball four....which would have probably meant marty sayin "weathers fails to do his job"
so throwing a "ball" still resulted in great job because batter swung.maybe not what you are speaking of exactly but pretty ironic nonetheless.

11-08-2006, 06:20 PM
Interesting post Lt. I think the major question before talking baseball is defining "luck". In my mind, "luck" is the specific observation or occurrence of a given random event - an event which you cannot control. The corollary then being that given a "luck" event (be it "good luck" or "bad luck"), you can make no inference over that re-occurrence of said event.

In baseball, luck in my mind is about the distribution of probabilistic events not directly related to skill and which have no predictive value. When does that blooper fall in? With nobody on on June 3rd or in game 7 of the world series with the winning run on in scoring position? That triple play? A lucky intersection of events. Anyways, I'll let other go in to it...

11-08-2006, 06:25 PM
I've always felt that whole reason for having a 162-game season is that its length tends to smear out luck and reveal what each individual player is truly capable of.

That's why I've never cared for caveats like, "throw out his April, and he was pretty good." As far as I'm concerned, that same guy was posting those April numbers, so they're very much in play.

Fall in love with hot stretches, and before long you've given Brandon Claussen 14 mostly terrible starts.

How big a role can luck play? In 2004, Joe Randa hit eight homeruns. In 2006, he hit four. But in 2005, he hit a walk-off homerun on opening day and another homerun the next game. Those were pretty lucky. Unluckily, his first impression on the Reds' braintrust was that he was a power hitter, and that's how he was utilized for far too much of his Reds career. Because of two swings.

11-08-2006, 06:39 PM
On an individual game basis, luck is important. Over a season it's not unless you consider team health to be "luck." It's not luck that the Yankees get their pick of players and win 95+ games every year. Or that the Pirates, Brewers, Devil Rays and Royals consistently stink.

Luck is the difference between your actual record and your pythagoran record and usually it's a few games either way.

Luck has a lot to do with it if you if you consider your team "lucky" to have good pitching, good hitting and good defense. ;)

11-08-2006, 06:59 PM
But you can't consider hitting a homer, striking out a batter, or turning a triple play luck. Those things all require skill and don't just happen. Luck is the when of the event, not the what.

Johnny Footstool
11-08-2006, 07:07 PM
But you can't consider hitting a homer, striking out a batter, or turning a triple play luck. Those things all require skill and don't just happen. Luck is the when of the event, not the what.

There are elements of luck in those events as well. Obviously, the triple play requires an extreme amount of luck.

Home run? Luckily, the pitcher threw you a fastball and you were looking for it.

Strikeout? Luckily, the batter was looking fastball and you threw a curve.

Guys with skill tend to do those things a lot more often, granted. But there is still some luck involved.

11-08-2006, 07:52 PM

11-08-2006, 08:26 PM
luck plays a huge role in short-series and confidence. over the entire seasons luck erodes to the mean (one way or another).

'Luck is the residue of design."-Branch Rickey