December 4, 2012

SPL: The First 10 Weeks

The league season is a quarter of the way over already, so its time to check on the status of the great experiment we call the Sandbagger Prevention League. Thanks to the contributions of some dedicated readers I have tabulated the first 10 weeks' results and can offer the following observations for each league format.

Scratch & Divisions

So far the standings are about as expected, with the best bowlers earning the most points. There really isn't much to report here, and since the Scratch format is serving as our control group or baseline, no news is good news. Matt 1 and his 213 average leads the way as expected and Lauren has yet to earn a point with a 110 average. While the scratch format best reflects bowling ability, it is not welcoming to new participants.

Since the two division formats depend on scratch scores, their standings also reflect the bowlers' performance. Because the difference between the lowest Division A average and the highest Division B average is 15 pins it seems that the divisions will stay the same throughout the entire season even though they are reset at the beginning of each quarter. Matt 1 leads Division A and EBH leads Division B with Sam Sandbagger closing in. So far the standings do not reflect the kind of close competition I had hoped, but we still have over 20 weeks to go.

100% Handicap

This is the format used to determine the scores for Sam Sandbagger each week. His scores are higher when he bowls better bowlers and lower when he bowls against lower average opponents. Sam took a beating the first few weeks because he had to establish a low average and, consequently, a higher handicap.  After three weeks Sam began to bowl scores closer to his opponent's average, thus giving him a better chance to earn points.

Sam's sandbagging technique has put him at the top of the standings in head to head match-ups. Sam also leads the standings in a 100% handicap format in which bowlers are given 1-8 points depending on how their handicap series ranks within the entire league, despite the fact that he doesn't necessarily throw high scores each week to defeat his opponent.

As expected, this format shows how easy it is for an experienced bowler to manipulate his scores and take advantage of a high handicap to defeat opponents of all skill levels.

80% Handicap

This is the wildcard format, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It still uses a handicap system to even the odds, but the benefit is limited. So far Matt 1 is leading the way in the standings, but Sam is not too far behind him. After 10 weeks this seems to be the more competitive league, but only time will tell. Lower average bowlers are still in the running for a high finish, but the top spot isn't just given to them.


I expect the standings to really take shape in the middle third of the season and more closely resemble what the final standings will be. Sam will need to finesse his scores efficiently so that his average doesn't climb too high and ruin his handicap. It has been a challenge to get into the mind of a sandbagger so I'll need to keep on my toes, I guess I'm just too honest.

Hopefully this whole venture isn't for nothing, but we'll see what the standings show in the spring.


  1. Good job on running and updating the SPL, Zach. I didn't fully understand the different formats before but your analysis made a lot of sense.

    1. Thanks Matt. The formats were sort of hard to describe and I found myself trying to remember what I meant in the first couple of weeks. I'm glad that with some actual scores and results I was able to make some sense of it all.

      While I based the SPL on the scientific method, it has served as a reminder of why I stopped majoring in biology after one year.