Tuesday, May 23, 2006

AL Pythagorean Standings - Week 8
By Zach

Your local paper might list the MLB standings each morning, and a variety of sports websites update them daily. But usually, the won-loss record doesn't exactly tell the whole story. That's why we have Pythagorean wins. Tuesdays, I'll take a look at the AL Standings, while Wednesdays I'll examine the NL. Thanks to Hardball Times for the data.

AL East
New York24-1926-17
Tampa Bay20-2517-28

While Boston and New York remain the marquee teams in this division, I think it's time we start taking the Blue Jays seriously. Their pitching has been surprisingly unlucky. They're a ground-ball dominant staff, recording 46% of their outs via the grounder, and they've got solid strikeout and walk numbers. However, their HR% is a ridiculous 19%, worst in baseball by a wide margin. Since all the evidence shows that HR% is largely a random stat, I fully expect their pitching to improve from its current middle-of-the-road status. On the offensive side of the ball, Troy Glaus and Vernon Wells have been tremendous, and the team as a whole has put up numbers consistant with the Red Sox and Yankees. The offseason talk was that the Jays might challenge for the division, and right now that looks like the case.

AL Central

Kansas City10-3211-34

I've got two questions about this division: how good are the Tigers, and how bad are the Royals? Detroit's pitching has been utterly ridiculous. They're allowing homers on just 8% of fly balls. Part of that may be due to playing in cavernous Comerica Park (though it hasn't surpressed Tiger home runs that extremely), but mostly it's just good luck. Detroit is also stranding 77% of baserunners, a number that also easily leads the AL. While LOB% is more of a repeatable skill than HR%, it's unlikely they'd be 10% better at it than league average. Ben's already detailed why Mike Maroth won't keep up his hot start, and Kenny Rogers remains an enigma. Verlander and Bonderman are legit, however, so don't expect the pitching to suddenly fall apart. But with the way the White Sox are playing, it's going to be awfully hard for the Tigers to retain their lead in the Central for long.

Meanwhile, the Royals lost all seven games last week, and lost them so badly that they dropped a pair of PWins (last week they were expected to have 13 wins, this week 11). But their horrific play is, sadly, supported by the stats. They're last in the AL in both runs scored and runs allowed. Their pitchers are walking 4.1 batters per game; only the Orioles are worse. They only strike out 5 batters per game, last in the AL. Their offensive profile is ugly too: a collective .248/.307/.375, a pathetic set of stats equalled only by the Angels. But at least the Royals have an excuse: their roster is perhaps the least talented in baseball history.

AL West


The Texas Rangers have built their division lead on the foundation of averageness. Their pitching and hitting are both right around the middle of the road for the AL. Still, that works out ok in a division where each of the other three teams have shown a profound inability to hit at times. Seriously, look:


Oakland's staff has been good, but they're mediocre with walks, strikeouts, and ground balls. Plus, their pitching hasn't done enough to offset an anemic offense. Most people (myself included) thought they'd be a World Series contender, and while there's still plenty of time, right now it's looking more like they'll be dealing Zito at the deadline instead of trying to add talent to help him.

Check back tomorrow for the NL Standings.


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