Explaining the Phillies’ Second-Half Surges

On his blog, Tango shows a simple way to forecast a team’s final record using only their won-lost after 46 games:

This is a pretty simple one to do.  Take a team’s W/L record after 46 games, double it, and add 35 W and 35 L.

I decided to run the experiment on the 2007-11 Phillies:

Last year, after 46 games, they were 28-18. 28(2)-18(2) = 56-36. 56+35 = 91 wins, 36+35 = 71 losses. They were 102-60.

In 2009 and 2010, after 46 games, they were 26-20. 26(2)-20(2) = 52-40. 52+35 = 87 wins, 40+35 = 75 losses. They were 97-65 in 2010 and 93-69 in 2009.

In 2008, after 46 games, they were 24-22. 24(2)-22(2) = 48-44. 48+35 = 83 wins, 44+35 = 79 losses. They were 92-70.

In 2007, after 46 games, they were 23-23. 23(2)-23(2) = 46-46. 46+35 = 81 wins and losses. They were 89-73.

Interesting that the Phillies have been so consistently an outlier to Tango’s method, which does work well. Recently, a commenter asked me why the Phillies have been such a strong second-half team and I didn’t really have any ideas. The only two that I had were mid-season acquisitions and rising temperatures, but they were speculative at best. It’s a subject that I have been thinking about ever since and haven’t come up with any better explanations.

I ask you, dear reader, to help me brainstorm hypotheses for this phenomenon. Or is it just random?

Looking for testable hypotheses; nothing like “Charlie rallies his troops with a speech!”

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