WBC: Mexico the victims of a horrendous Tie-Breaker

Author: Justin Chiodo, March 13th, 2017

 

Continuing with the theme of the last article, in which I made the case that the World Baseball Classic is a great event but deeply flawed, I am compelled to highlight a brutal aspect of the tournament’s format that knocked out a team that should still be playing.

Let me be clear, Mexico got screwed on a brutal rule and Venezuela is extremely lucky to still be alive.

In Group D, Puerto Rico went 3-0 and won the Group. Italy, Mexico, and Venezuela all posted a record of 1-2 which creates a 3-way tie for 2nd Place.

 

The World Baseball Classic uses a bizarre tie-breaker in this case:

WBC Rule- {“Three Teams Tied 1-2: If there are three teams tied 1-2, then the tiebreaker rules would be applied to rank the three, and the first two ranked teams would play a tiebreaker game, the winner of which would advance. The tiebreaker rules will be applied as follows:

Step 1: The tied Teams shall be ranked in the standings for that Round according to fewest runs allowed divided by the number of innings (including partial innings) played in defense in the games in that Round between the Teams tied.”}

 

 In an attempt to re-state and simplify the WBC rule above, the tie-breaker is:

 Runs allowed, divided by the number of defensive innings, in the games between the teams that are tied.

 True Champion Sports is all about quantifying sports topics as accurately as possible. This tie-breaker used by the World Baseball Classic gets a grade of F, at very best.

 As a reminder to WBC rule-makers, the objective of the sport of baseball is two-fold:

  1. Score runs
  2. Prevent the other team from scoring runs.

This means that run differential is the most accurate way of assessing teams’ performance.  This ridiculous WBC tie-breaker only accounts for pitching and defense, but does not account for offense!

But it gets much worse.  There is already an extremely small sample size (3 games played by each team) and yet this tie-breaker omits the games these 3 teams played against Puerto Rico! Here’s why that matters:

Mexico and Italy both lost to Puerto Rico by a substantial, yet respectable margin. However, Venezuela was MERCIED in 7 innings by Puerto Rico 11-0!  They lost so badly the game was shortened and fans were sent home early.

 

The most accurate, fair, and legitimate way to break this Group D tie for 2nd Place would have been to simply use run differential in the 3 games. By that metric:

MEXICO- run differential of (-4)

ITALY- run differential of (-6)

VENEZUELA- run differential of (-12)

Mexico nor Italy were mercied in their 3 games. Run differential proves that the least successful of these 3 teams was Venezuela.  The tie-break game happening tonight should feature Italy and Mexico, and Venezuela should have been sent home.

To make matters even worse, the rules weren’t clearly explained to team Mexico prior to their last game and multiple Mexican players including Adrian Gonzalez said they were told by a WBC official before their final game that they needed to win by 2 runs over Venezuela in order to get into the tie-break game Tuesday night- which they successfully did in an 11-9 victory.

 

There’s too much riding on these global sporting events, and too much fan interest/ investment to have brutal rules/ formats like this one, screw a team over as badly as what has happened to Mexico here.  This happens far too often in big sporting events.

 

 

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