NJIT Math Professor Says League Championship Series Round Should Be a Nail-Biter

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The Major League Baseball post-season has had lots of excitement with all four teams that went into the Division Series round as underdogs (according to the mathematical model of NJIT Math Professor Bruce Bukiet) going on to win their series.

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The Major League Baseball post-season has had lots of excitement with all four teams that went into the Division Series round as underdogs (according to the mathematical model of NJIT Math Professor Bruce Bukiet) going on to win their series. “The shorter the series, the more volatile it can be and the more likely for upsets to occur. That’s surely what the math tells you and this year it did so with a bang!” says Bukiet.

With the League Championship Series starting on Friday, Bukiet says that anything can happen. “The teams are so evenly matched,” he says, with the San Francisco Giants having a 51 percent chance of besting the St. Louis Cardinals (even though the Cards have the home field advantage) in the best four out of seven game series. It is even tighter in the American League, with both the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles having a 50 percent chance to win.

At the season’s start, Bukiet used his mathematical model to project the number of wins each team should earn (see: http://m.njit.edu/~bukiet/baseball/playoffs14.htm). Bukiet’s model picked seven of the 10 post-season teams back in March, a result as good or better than most of the experts (at Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, etc.). He tied for first this season at Baseballphd.net’s annual contest to pick the teams who would make it to the playoffs after being the sole winner three times from 2010-2013. However, he projected neither the Royals nor the Orioles would make it to the postseason back in March. Both the Cardinals and the Giants were on his list.

On Bukiet’s website, http://www.egrandslam.com, he provides the likelihood of each team taking the series in a given number of games. These numbers are revised as the probabilities change with the progression of each series. During the season Bukiet applies his model to determine whether it is worthwhile to wager on games each day during the baseball season. His picks have led to positive results for nine of the 14 years (counting 2014’s thus far somewhat disappointing performance) he has been doing this.

Using a Markov process approach that he originally published in the journal Operations Research, the method enables one to assess prospective trades and evaluate who should win the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards among various other applications. Bukiet’s MVP and Cy Young results and the updated method to produce them have appeared in the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sports. The model computes the probability of a team with given hitters, bench, starting pitcher, lineup, relievers scoring any number of runs along with home field advantage to compute the chance each team has to win a game.

About NJIT

One of the nation’s leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks fifth among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million.

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