256-game season for baseball?
July 30, 2007
… only if you want to take the randomness out of the outcome.
How many games does it take to ensure that the best team in a sports league ends up with the best record? According to a study by a pair of physicists at the Los Alamos national Laboratory in New Mexico, the answer is an astounding 256 games per team in the case of baseball’s National League, well beyond the 162 games each team currently plays in the regular season.
According to the physicists’ analysis and simulations of league play, there is always at least some chance that a lesser team can prevail in any given game. The randomness of outcomes means that it takes a large number of games to guarantee that the best team accumulates the most wins.
Specifically, it requires that the total number of games played in a season should be roughly the cube of the number of teams involved. For the 16 team National League, that means 4096 regular season games altogether and 2744 games for the 14 team American League.