Evening Out The Playing Field


by Seph Lietz

The Problem

If looking at the 2010 SLW championship team triggered a strong sense of déjà vu, there’s a good reason. None of the 3 wifflers were being crowned for the first time. In fact, just 9 of the 27 wifflers in the statistical era have combined to take the 15 championship slots in that time.

9 out of 27 have won a championship from 2006-2010

Let me repeat that. Over the last five years, only 9 people have been on a championship team; 18 have not. There are some notable names on that list of 18, including Hall of Famers Jaime Hixson, Geoff Hixson, Dave Cain, and Matt Warnes.

The Cause

It turns out that there have been two reliable indicators when it comes to the success of SLW teams: team size and handedness.

4-man teams underperform; 2-lefty and 1-lefty teams dominate

4-man teams perform significantly worse than 3-man teams. Teams with 1 or 2 left-handed hitters perform significantly better than all-righty teams.

Dave Cain, Greg Presson, and Jason Morgan have all been unfortunate enough to each have been on two four-wiffler teams in the last five years. None of them have won a championship in that time. Only five regulars have escaped the four-wiffler curse recently: Shane Gentry, Spence Hasler, Jed Pope, Kevin Walsh, and Jeff Cain. They have nine titles between them.

A Solution

I’d like to introduce a new method for determining teams which uses the useful data we’ve gathered over the last 5 years. Statistically Guided Team Selection would automatically place people on teams based on their past performance. The goal is to make all the teams as even as possible. As an example, take last year’s field + Kevin Walsh and feed it into SGTS and you get the following 6 teams, in no particular order.

  • Gentry, Mayfield, Walsh
  • Hasler, Sip, J Cain
  • Lietz, Presson, C Shoemaker
  • Pope, Warnes, Morgan
  • Endsley, J Hixson, Kirby
  • Morton, D Cain, G Hixson

What do you think? Is there one team that jumps out as the favorite/worst? Should we try this out this year? Do I need to get a life?

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8 Comments

Filed under Opinion Pieces

8 responses to “Evening Out The Playing Field

  1. Shane

    Great article. I think Pope, Warnes, Morgan team jumps out as potential champs.

    • sephlietz

      Agree that team would be tough. I think the Morton, D Cain, G Hixson team might be right there with them — HR threat on every single at bat. They might have some defensive struggles though…

  2. Geoff

    I think i take offense to the defensive comment. The bigger worry my be the lack of another go to arm on the hill.

  3. sephlietz

    Jaime, are you implying that you have doubts about the chances for an Endsley, Hixson, Kirby team?

  4. El_Kirbo

    Correction: that team WILL make a run. Only question is the co-existing of myself and Endsley. I also think Hasler’s team is awesome we should probably start engraving the trophy now.

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