In Major League Baseball, the phrase “magic number” is used to determine how close a team is to making the playoffs or winning the division. It becomes prominent every year in September as teams begin closing in on clinching.
In our league, a team’s magic number represents the combination of points needed by that team and points lost by its closest competitor to clinch the division title. Every time a team wins, its magic number decreases by two. Similarly, every time that team’s closest competitor for the division title loses, the magic number also decreases by two. If ties are involved, the magic number decreases by 1.
The exact formula is: Potential Points remaining +1 – (Points Lost by the second-place team – points lost by first-place team).
If a new second-place team emerges, the magic number adjusts to that new second-place team. The second-place team (in terms of total points lost) must always be used as the barometer for the first-place team’s magic number.
In our standings, the magic number is only shown next to the first-place team in the division under the M# column heading. As we get closer to the end of the season, the magic number will begin to shrink with teams nearing clinching top spot and the newly minted Regular Season cash prizes. Another new addition to the 2022 standings is the “Points Back” or PB column representing how far behind the first-placed team each subsequent club is. Try not to get the two confused.
Who knew math could be so much fun?
(Magic Number Explanation Source: www.mlb.com/glossary/advanced-stats/magic-number)