# Will A-Rod Win the Triple Crown?

August 31, 2005 2 Comments

This is my post for the next two days, because I’ll be in an airplane tomorrow.

Anyways, I noticed today that while Derrek Lee was getting all the Triple Crown hype, the guy who really has a chance to get it is no one other than Alex Rodriguez. Let’s take a look at his chances in each category:

**BA – .320 (3nd)** A-Rod is a measly .004 points behind Johnny Damon in the batting average standings. According to PrOPS, Damon’s predicted BA is .317, Michael Young’s (he’s 2nd in BA) is .306, and A-Rod’s is .283. Which means that if each regresses to his expected performance, you would expect the standings to stay the way they are, or so. A-Rod doesn’t seem to have a great chance of winning the batting title, however, the one thing in his favor is that his career BA (.307) is much higher than Damon’s (.290) or Young’s (.294).

**HR – 40 (1st)** Rodriguez has a five home run lead over David Ortiz, and I doubt that he relinquishes it. Even last year — in an off-season for him — Rodriguez finished 6th in the AL in home runs.

** RBI – 105 (4th)** Even though he trails David Ortiz by 12 in this category, Rodriguez does have some hope left. Based on his singles, doubles, triples, and home runs, A-Rod would be expected to have 112 RBI, 6 more than Ortiz would be expected to have. If Ortiz’s luck runs out and Rodriguez gets a little more than his share, he could become the first Triple Crown winner in the AL since Carl Yaztremski in 1967.

While A-Rod’s at a Triple Crown chances seem to be slim (I’d put him at 10:1 odds), but you never know. Certain indicators point towards A-Rod catching up in the two categories he trails in, and if he gets a little lucky, well, the rest will certainly be history.

Here’s the problem with this line of thinking on RBIs — the season’s almost over. With essentially a month of games left, A-Rod trails Ortiz by 12 RBI. A-Rod’s RBI totals are 27, 22, 17, 15, 24. If you take this small sample, the average is 21 and standard deviation is ~5. Let’s assume A-Rod and Ortiz have approximately the same expected RBI/month, subject to random variation. So A-Rod needs to be 2.4 standard deviations better than Ortiz. Possible, but unlikely, maybe in the neighborhood of a 10% chance of him besting Ortiz. (I’m not applying any statistical rigor here, I don’t feel like pulling out the formulae just now…)

Problem is, he’s got to pass Manny too. Manny’s 10 RBI ahead of him, so the same logic applies, maybe he’s got a 20% chance to pass Manny (to be generous). The chance of A-Rod passing both is then more like 2% (ok, maybe it’s higher, since you could argue there’s some correlation between Manny and Ortiz’ RBI totals, so both could have down months at the same time, but that’s sketchy…)

And that doesn’t guarantee he wins the batting title — maybe it’s 70/30 that, if he gets hot enough to win the RBI title, he wins average too? So that gives him a 1.4% chance of the triple crown, 70-1 odds.

But no, I’m not letting you wager $100 against me on A-Rod winning, not even at 50-1 odds…

Make that 13 RBI behind Ortiz. Opposite field homer off a breaking ball…nice!