Posts tagged ‘MLB’

Guess the Graph on Square Root Day

Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball, and 13 games will be played today.

It’s also Square Root Day, because the date 4/4/16 transforms to 4 × 4 = 16.

With those two things in mind, here’s a trivia question that seems appropriate. Identify the data set used to create the graph below. I’ll give you some hints:

  • The data set contains 4,906 elements.
  • It’s based on a real-world phenomenon from 2015.
  • The special points marked by A, B, and C won’t help you identify the data set, but they will be discussed below.

Got a guess?

Home Run DistancesNo clue? Okay, one more hint:

  • The horizontal axis represents “Distance (Feet)” and the vertical axis represents “Frequency.”

Still not sure? Final hints:

  • Point A on the graph represents Ruben Tejada’s 231-foot inside-the-park home run on September 2, 2015.
  • Point B on the graph represents the shortest distance to the wall in any Major League Baseball park — a mere 302 feet to the right field fence at Boston’s Fenway Park.
  • Point C represents the longest distance to a Major League wall — a preposterous 436 feet to the deepest part of center field at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Okay, you’ve probably guessed by now that the data underlying the graph is the distance of all home runs hit in Major League Baseball during the 2015 season. That’s right, there were 4,906 home runs last year, of which 11 were the inside-the-park variety. The distances ranged from 231 to 484 feet, with the average stretching the tape to 398 feet, and the most common distance being 412 feet (86 HRs traveled that far). The data set includes 105 outliers (based on the 1.5 × IQR convention), which explains why a box plot of the data looks so freaky:

Box Plot - Home Runs

The variety of shapes and sizes of MLB parks helps to explain the data. Like all math folks, I love a good graphic, and this one from Louis J. Spirito at the is both awesome and enlightening:

Stadia Overlap

click the image to see the full infographic

Here are some more baseball-related trivia you can use to impress your friends at a cocktail party or math department mixer.

  1. Who holds the record for most inside-the-park home runs in MLB history?
    Jesse Burkett, 55 (which is 20 more than he hit outside-the-park)
  2. Which stadium has the tallest wall?
    The left field fence at Fenway Park (a.k.a., the “Green Monster”) is 37 feet tall.
  3. Which stadium has the shortest wall?
    This honor also belongs to Fenway Park, whose right field wall is only 3 feet tall.
  4. Although only 1 in 446 home runs was an inside-the-park home run in 2015, throughout all of MLB history, inside-the-park home runs have represented 1 in ____ home runs.
  5. Name all the ways to get on first base without getting a hit.
    This is a topic of much debate, and conversations about it have taken me and my friends at the local pub well into the wee hours of the morning. I have variously heard that there are 8, 9, 11, and 23 different ways to get on base without getting a hit. I think there are 8; below is my list.
    (1) Walk
    (2) Hit by Pitch
    (3) Error
    (4) Fielder’s Choice
    (5) Interference
    (6) Obstruction
    (7) Uncaught Third Strike
    (8) Pinch Runner
  6. What is the fewest games a team can win and still make the playoffs?
    39. The five teams in a division play 19 games against each of the other four teams in their division. Assume that each of those teams lose all of the 86 games against teams not in their division. Then they could finish with 39, 38, 38, 38, and 37 wins, respectively, and the team with 39 wins would make the playoffs by winning the division.
  7. Bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game, and the batter hits a triple. What’s the final score of the game?
    1-0. By rule, the game ends when the first player touches home plate.
  8. In a 9-inning game, the visiting team scores 1 run per inning, and the home team scores 2 runs per inning. What is the final score?
    16-9. The home team would not bat in the bottom of the ninth, since they were leading.

April 4, 2016 at 4:04 am 2 comments

Math Jokes for Pitchers and Catchers

Pitchers and catchers in Major League Baseball report to spring training this week. Here’s a math joke for baseball players. (And while I’m not certain who said this originally, it’s a solid bet that this quote comes from Dave Barry, though I haven’t been able to confirm that.)

Everyone knows that if a mathematician had to choose between solving a difficult story problem and catching a fly ball, he would surely solve the problem without thinking twice about whether the Infield Fly Rule was in effect.

And since we’re talking baseball…

What do you do with an elephant with three balls?
Walk him, and pitch to the rhino.

Elephant Batter

Here are some baseball and math trivia questions for you [updated 2/10/2013], some based on problems from Erich Friedman’s Baseball Puzzles page:

  1. In the bottom of the ninth inning in a game with no score, the bases are loaded. The batter hits a ball that rolls into the right field corner. Before the ball is thrown home, all four base runners cross the plate. What is the final score of the game?
  2. If the visiting team scores 2 runs per inning, and the home team scores 3 runs per inning, what is the final score of a nine-inning game?
  3. A player has four at-bats in a game, and he got a hit in his last of these at-bats. His batting averages for the season (rounded to three decimal places, as usual) at three different times during the game do not have any digits in common. What was his batting average at the end of the game?
  4. What is the minimum number of games a Major League Baseball team must win to make the playoffs?


  1. The final score is 1-0. Once the first player touches the plate, the home team wins, and the game is officially over.
  2. The final score is 24-18. With a lead in the middle of the ninth inning, the home team does not bat in the bottom of the ninth.
  3. At the end of the game, his average was .409. He was 5 for 18 (.278) at the beginning of the game, 6 for 19 (.316) after one at-bat, and 9 for 22 (.409) after three more at-bats.
  4. A team only has to win 28 games. There are four teams in the American League West division, and the requirement in Major League Baseball is that every team must play either 18 or 19 games against the other teams in their division. That means that each of these four teams could play as few as 54 divisional games. If each of them loses the 108 non-divisional games that they play, then the four teams could conceivably finish with 28, 27, 27, and 26 wins, respectively. Under this scenario, the division winner is the team with just 28 victories.
    There are many who complain that, because of the Electoral College, it’s possible for a candidate to be elected President with less than 30% of the popular vote. Yet this situation is worse — a team could make the playoffs by winning just 17% of its games. (Of course, the Presidential election has slightly more consequence. Maybe.)

February 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm 4 comments

About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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