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Check out the Fantasy Football FAQ.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How do I use this site?
2. How many seasons do you simulate?
3.

Why does it show my team as having a 0.0% chance of winning the division, when my team has not been eliminated?
4. What does <0.1 mean?
5. Why does DIV + WC not always equal POFF?
6. When will my team get to a DIV of 100.0?
7. Do you take into account a team's strength of schedule?
8. Do you take into account whether remaining games are at home or away?
9. Do you take into account starting pitchers for baseball?
10.Do you take into account injuries or trades?
11.What do you do when a game is postponed due to weather?
12.How do you resolve ties at the end of the season?
13.What is the Bill James' Pythagorean theorem, and how do you use it?
14.

Do you use the Bill James' Pythagorean theorem for sports other than baseball?
15.What sports do you cover?
16.

Do you take into account whether a team is hot lately, or just its performance over the entire season?
17.How can you make predictions when the season hasn't even started yet?
18.What's the difference between smart mode and dumb mode?
19.Where can I send feedback?
20.What is an RSS feed, and do you have them?
21.For the playoffs, what is the difference between "projected wins" and "expected wins"?
22.For the playoffs, do you take regular season statistics into account?
23.For the playoffs, do you simulate each series millions of times?


Answers:

1. How do I use this site?

coolstandings.com calculates the odds that each team has of winning its division, the wild card, or making it into the playoffs either way. These "coolstats" are shown in percentages, and are colored red in the standings:

DIV - % chance each team has of winning division
WC - % chance each team has of winning the wild card
POFF - % chance each team has of making the playoffs

You can sort the results by clicking on any of the column headings.

You can also choose among 3 views for baseball: division, wild card, or league. Likewise you can choose among 3 views for football: division, conference, or league.

If you click on any of the teams, you can see that team's remaining schedule, along with the history of its coolstats.

2. How many seasons do you simulate?

Currently we simulate the rest of the season 1 million times. Simulating more seasons would not change the results by more than 0.1%.

3. Why does it show my team as having a 0.0% chance of winning the division, when my team has not been eliminated?

Actually, this means that in the 1 million (or more) times that the season was simulated, your team did not win the division a single time. Essentially this means the chance of your team winning the division is less than 1 in a million.

4. What does <0.1 mean?

If DIV is shown to be <0.1, this means that the given team has less than a 0.05% chance of winning its division, or less than 1 in 2,000. A DIV of 0.05 is rounded up to 0.1.

5. Why does DIV + WC not always equal POFF?

POFF is calculated by summing DIV and WC, but each statistic is independently rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent, so DIV + WC may be off from POFF after rounding. Likewise, the sum of all DIV in a division may not exactly equal 100% because of rounding.

6. When will my team get to a DIV of 100.0?

When your team wins its division in every single simulation run, then its DIV will be set to 100.0. Essentially this means that the chance of your team not winning the division is less than 1 in a million. Until that point, a DIV of at least 99.85 but less than 100.0 will be shown as 99.9.

7. Do you take into account a team's strength of schedule?

Yes, for the remaining schedule. For instance, if a team has games remaining against weak teams, its probability of winning the division (or wild card) will be higher. However, the strength of schedule up to the current date is not currently taken into account. It is assumed that with so many games, the schedule up to the current date is balanced among good and bad teams. We will probably introduce the strength of schedule up to the current date into the simulation (especially for football), but it will likely not cause a significant change to the baseball results.

8. Do you take into account whether remaining games are at home or away?

Yes. Team statistics are maintained independently for both home and away games.

9. Do you take into account starting pitchers for baseball?

No. There are no plans of taking this factor into account, as it is almost impossible to predict pitching matchups further than a few weeks into the future.

10. Do you take into account injuries or trades?

No.

11. What do you do when a game is postponed due to weather?

We simply assume that this game will be made up at the end of the season, just as would happen in real life if the game has playoff impliciations.

12. How do you resolve ties at the end of the season?

Ties are resolved using the same tie-breaking rules used in real life. This means that division, conference, and head-to-head records are considered as needed, as well as other statistics required by the official tie-breaking rules. Each league uses a unique set of rules, which we make every effort to follow accurately.

For baseball, extra playoff games are simulated if they would be required in real life. We even take into account the results of the official coin flips that determine the locations of any extra playoff games!

As the season winds down, the impact of the tie-breaking rules on the playoff projections becomes significant, which is why randomly choosing a division or wild card winner in the case of a tie is not adequate.

13. What is the Bill James' Pythagorean theorem, and how do you use it?

The Bill James Pythagorean theorem states that a baseball team's winning percentage can be estimated using the following formula:

PCT = (RS^2)/(RS^2 + RA^2)

where RS is runs scored, and RA is runs against. This formula works because baseball scores roughly follow a Rayleigh distribution. Over time, the formula has been tweaked using empirical evidence (i.e. actual game scores). For instance, instead of using an exponent value of 2, a value of 1.83 is often used.

To determine the chance team A has of beating team B, coolstandings.com estimates the expected number of runs that team A will score against team B, and the expected number of runs that team B will score against team A. These numbers are estimated using team statistics (such as RS and RA), and plugged into a modified version of the Pythagorean theorem. With these results, we simulate the rest of the season, using each team's remaining schedule, and determine how many times each team wins its division or the wild card. If a team wins the division 100,000 times out of a million, then that team is given a 10% chance of winning the division.

14. Do you use the Bill James' Pythagorean theorem for sports other than baseball?

Because scores in various sports have different distributions, an algorithm that works for one sport may not be optimal for another. Daryl Morey modified the Bill James Pythagorean theorem for sports other than baseball by optimizing the exponent in the formula based on historical data for each sport. For football, he found the optimal exponent to be 2.37. For basketball, it is 13.91. We've modified the exponents in our algorithms accordingly to appropriately model each sport.

15. What sports do you cover?

In addition to MLB, we also cover the NFL, NBA, and NHL.

16. Do you take into account whether a team is hot lately, or just its performance over the entire season?

We do weigh recent game results more than older games results, as it makes sense that last week's performance reflects better the current state of a team than the performance from the first week of the season.

17. How can you make predictions when the season hasn't even started yet?

You may notice that even before your team plays a single game, in "smart mode" the DIV, WC, and POFF coolstats are already calculated. For football especially, there is not enough data at the start of a season to make reliable projections. As a result, we incorporate the team statistics from the previous year to estimate scores near the beginning of a season, then weigh these statistics less and less as data is accumulated for the current season. After enough games are played during the current season, last year's numbers have a negligible impact on the coolstat calculations.

In summary the "smart mode" projections shown at the start of the season are based entirely on last year's stats, but only until the first game is played of the season.

18. What's the difference between smart mode and dumb mode?

Smart mode calculates the chance that each team has of beating any other team using several assumptions, and uses this information when simulating the rest of the season. Details regarding these assumptions are described here for baseball, and here for football.

Dumb mode assumes that each team has a 50% chance of beating any other team. Although this does not reflect reality, it is useful if you don't trust the assumptions we are making!

19. Where can I send feedback?

You can reach us at info@coolstandings.com. Send us your feedback - we'll read it!

Alternatively, you can post your thoughts right here for others to read! Go to coolforums, the coolstandings.com message board.

20. What is an RSS feed, and do you have them?

RSS can either stand for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication (or several other variations), and it is a format used for packaging news-like items from a web site. RSS feeds (also known as XML feeds) can then be interpreted by programs called news readers or news aggregators, which will display the information from the RSS feeds in a nice format. The news reader can keep up with the changing content of the RSS feed because the RSS feed maintains the same format, regardless of the content.

The good news is yes, coolstandings.com does provide RSS feeds! See here for details.

21. For the playoffs, what is the difference between "projected wins" and "expected wins"?

The projected number of wins is the most likely number of wins given that the predicted series winner actually wins the series. The predicted winner is the team with a WIN of higher than 50%.

The expected number of wins is the average number of wins no matter who wins the series. For example, if a team has a 25% chance of winning 0 games, 25% chance of winning 1 game, and 50% chance of winning 2 games, then the expected number of wins would be 0.25*0 + 0.25*1 + 0.5*2 or 1.25, which is rounded to 1.3.

We report projected wins and losses in the main standings page in order to predict the series outcome (including games won), but report the expected wins and losses in the team page for those who are interested.

22. For the playoffs, do you take regular season statistics into account?

Yes. We actually combine the playoff statistics with the regular season statistics in order to determine the chance each team has of beating another team. Recent performance is still emphasized, so that the playoff games and late regular season games will have more impact on the final projections.

23. For the playoffs, do you simulate each series millions of times?

Actually, no. Because of the small number of games in each series, we can exhaustively determine the odds of each series outcome happening. For example, a 7-game series only has 8 possible outcomes with 70 possible paths, where an outcome is the series score (e.g. 4-2) and a path is how that score was achieved (e.g. WWLWLW).

We determine the chance each team has of beating another team the same way as during the regular season.




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