Okay, so I got to thinking. And I can’t just leave the last post where it ended.

You might be wondering, for example, what the statistical probability is of me making the playoffs after switching to an easier difficulty after just 57 games (35% of the season). Maybe this doesn’t sound very challenging to you.

Last season (2006), my M’s went 101-61, for a .623 pace. Assuming that same winning percentage greets my next 105 games in 2007, I’ll go 65-40, for a final record of 72-90. Which will NOT make the playoffs. For an indication of how much I’ll miss by, the Angels are on pace to win 101 games (sound familiar?) and the A’s 94.

Now, you might say that after playing 57 games on Impossible Mode, I’ve improved over 2006. I sure hope so. But I’ve also set my players back a notch. And if this baseball game is like any other, the player progressions for the season are at least partially impacted by the start the player gets off to. So one would think this might mitigate any improvement.

For example, Ichiro is hitting .186 with 3 HR, 5 RBI, and 16 R. Last year, he hit .271 (yes, last year’s difficulty was hard) with 78 R. It’s unlikely that he’ll suddenly bounce back to hit .271 or score runs on that pace for the last two-thirds of the season.

Similarly, Randy Johnson is 0-11 with a 6.13 ERA in 12 starts and 3 relief appearances (61.2 IP). Last year, he was 11-8 with a 1.70 ERA in an injury-shortened season (22 starts, 158.2 IP). Staff ace Mark Mulder is 1-8 with a 6.47 after going 20-6 with a 1.71 (in 247 IP!) last year. Only Eddie Guardado is within 2 points of last year’s ERA of anyone significant on the staff. And he won the Cy Young Award last year, with a 2-0 record, 54 saves (in 54 chances), and an 0.61 ERA in 59.1 IP (64 appearances). He almost won the MVP Award. This year, he’s only managed to get into 9 games so far (8.2 IP), but has posted a 1.04 ERA, no record, and converted all 6 save opportunities.

What to conclude from all this? (Besides the fact that I’m a tremendous dork who loves baseball, statistics, and video games?) That this will be mighty difficult. Assuming the A’s go on to a 94-68 record, which is a very standard mark for a Wild Card team, I will need to compile an 87-18 (.829) record to catch them. In my Pro-level (3rd hardest of four levels) season in 2005, I only went .722. And that year, Ichiro hit over 30 HR.

Good luck.