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Baseball, Optimization and the World Wide Web

By Ilan Adler, Alan L. Erera, Dorit S. Hochbaum and Eli V. Olinick


The competition for baseball playoff spots -- the fabled "pennant race" -- is one of the most closely-watched American sports traditions. Baseball fans, known for their love of statistics, check newspapers and web sites daily looking for measures of their team's progress (or lack thereof !). While traditionally-reported playoff race statistics such as games back and "magic number" are informative, they are overly conservative and ignore the remaining schedule of games. By using optimization techniques, one can model schedule effects explicitly and determine when a team has locked up a playoff spot or is truly "mathematically eliminated" from contention. This paper describes the Baseball Playoff Races web site, a popular site developed at Berkeley that provides automatic daily updates of new, optimization-based playoff race statistics. During the development of the site, it was found that the first-place elimination status of all teams in a division can be determined using a single linear prog..

Year: 1999
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