Bill Hass on Baseball
Delving into magic numbers
OK, I promised to delve into this “magic number” thing after the Savannah series, where the Hoppers split four games.
The magic number is the combination wins and losses it will take to clinch first place. Now, you don’t have to be Nostradamus to calculate this, although that wouldn’t hurt. I’ll try to run through it as simply as possible.
The Hoppers lead the Northern Division by 6 1/2 games over Hagerstown and 8 1/2 over Hickory. Everyone has 13 games remaining in the first half.
To figure out the magic number vs. Hagerstown, assume the Suns will sweep their remaining games, which would give them a 46-23 record. There’s a slight complication because they were rained out against Lexington on May 13 and that game will not be made up. So they will finish the first half with 69 games and the Hoppers will play 70.
That means the if the Hoppers finish 46-24, Hagerstown would be in first place because of a better winning percentage. So if the Suns win out, the Hoppers need to finish with a 47-23 record. To do that, they must win seven of their remaining games.
But remember, the magic number of seven doesn’t have to be all wins. While every Greensboro victory reduces the magic number by one, so does every Hagerstown loss.
For example, over the next seven games, if Greensboro goes 4-3 and Hagerstown goes 4-3, the Hoppers clinch first place. Four Greensboro wins plus three Hagerstown losses equals seven.
(For you math majors, the Hoppers would be 44-20 with six games to play and and a 6 1/2 game lead on the Suns.)
You can figure out all kinds of scenarios — five Hoppers wins and two Suns losses, one Hoppers win and six Suns losses, etc. Anything that adds up to seven does the trick.
As for Hickory, if the Crawdads sweep their final 13 games they would be 44-25. They also had a game cancelled by rain and will play 69 games. To finish ahead of them, the Hoppers need to get to 45 wins, so the magic number against Hickory is five.
To summarize: Any combination of seven Hoppers wins and Hagerstown losses eliminates the Suns. Any combination of five Hoppers wins and Hickory losses takes care of the Crawdads.
You’ll have a pop quiz in the morning. Or, if you want to skip that, stay tuned here for periodic updates.