The Improbability of Garrett Wittles’ Streak

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Garrett Wittels – Improbable Streak?

Since the beginning of the 2010 NCAA Baseball season, Garrett Wittels (3B – FIU Panthers – Div. I) has had at least one hit every game. He is threatening Robin Ventura for the NCAA Div. I record 58-game streak (1987) with his current 56-game streak. If Garrett Wittels opts to return next year for his Junior season at FIU, he will have an opportunity to set the new NCAA Div. I hitting streak record.

After reading about this streak in an ESPN article, I started to wonder how improbable such a streak really was even given Wittels’ high batting average. I also was curious to see how likely he is to break Ventura’s mark of 58 straight games.  Thankfully, I work at RJMetrics where fun analyses like these are part of my job description.  I soon had some answers.

Assuming Wittels returns for the 2011 NCAA season and given the batting average derived from the start of the streak to now (.413), I calculated the following probabilities:

  • Wittels falls short of the record: 34.3%
  • Wittels ties the record: 6.6%
  • Wittels breaks the record streak: 59.1%

Below is a chart displaying the probability that the Garrett Wittels’ streak would last as many games as it has (by game number).  I used his current-season batting average and his number of at-bats in each game as the input to each statistic.  As you can see, these probabilities compound quickly, making this many consecutive games with at least one hit extremely unlikely.

Wittels' Streak Probability - Pre-Streak Perspective

Some highlights of Wittels’ hitting streak probabilities:

  • Probability of 10+ game hitting streak: 78.18%
  • Probability of 20+ game hitting streak: 34.09%
  • Probability of 30+ game hitting streak: 11.08%
  • Probability of 40+ game hitting streak: 2.45%
  • Probability of 50+ game hitting streak: .73%
  • Probability of 56+ game hitting streak: .45%

Please note that these probabilities are from the perspective of Wittels and his unique hitting profile:

  • Very high variable batting average (ranging from .401 to .600 – 34th in nation)
  • High at bats per game (ranging from 3 to 6)
  • Were calculated given Wittels’ batting average entering each game and at bat opportunities during each game (both of which are not known before a streak begins)

Forecasted Probabilities: (assuming constant hitting average of .413 and constant at bats average of 4.321)

  • Probability of 56+ game hitting streak: 100% (Joe DiMaggio – MLB)
  • Probability of 57+ game hitting streak: 90.01%
  • Probability of 58+ game hitting streak: 81.02%(Robin Ventura – Div. I)
  • Probability of 59+ game hitting streak: 72.93% (Damian Constantino – Div. III)
  • Probability of 60+ game hitting streak: 65.65%
  • Probability of 61+ game hitting streak: 59.09% (Joe DiMaggio – AAA)
  • Probability of 70+ game hitting streak: 22.92%
  • Probability of 80+ game hitting streak: 8.00%
  • Probability of 90+ game hitting streak: 2.79%
  • Probability of 100+ game hitting streak: .98%

Please note that the forecasted probabilities are calculated given that the streak has already gone through 56 games. In all likelihood, Wittels will break Robin Ventura’s 58 game streak (72.93%). In fact, there’s a 50/50 shot he stretches the streak beyond 61 games, successfully setting the hitting streak record across all levels of baseball.

Assuming we’re lucky enough for Wittels to stay for his Junior year, keep your eyes peeled for the 2011 FIU season opening series against the University of Massachusetts on February 18th-20th.

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