HOW RARE ARE STREAKS?
The New York Mets recently won 11 games in a row, which got a lot of attention.
How likely is it that a given baseball team will win 11 games in a row by chance, if its probability of winning a single game is 50%?
The plot below shows that if a baseball team plays 100 seasons of 162 games, they’ll have an streak of 11 wins in a row about 7 to 8 times a century (about every 13 years on average). If they’re a really good team that wins 60% of the time in the long run, they’ll have an 11 game winning streak 55 times per century (about every 2 years).
Streaks aren’t weird, they’re expected. The graph up top shows that for a team that wins 50% of the time, the most likely outcome is that they’ll have a six game winning streak in a typical 162 game season. There’s an 8% chance their longest streak in a season will be 10 wins or more.
For the gifted team that wins 60% of the time, an eight game winning streak is the most likely outcome in a season, and there’s a 32% chance they’ll have a streak of 10 wins or more.
Fans of R and ggplot2 can reproduce the plots with the code below.