Table of Contents

Sunday, May 17, 2009

American League Update - Through 5/16/09

Tonight, I'm going to take a look at the junior circuit.

Division Roundups


Quick notes on the stats below: All runs data are park adjusted using Patriot's park factors. PythWins is from Hardball Times, and so is PythagenPat. XtrapWins is the wins that the teams' current winning percentage would provide at the season's end. Wif500 is what the team's record should be if they win half of their remaining games. %for90W is the winning percentage the teams will need to get to 90 wins at the end of the season.

East
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA RA/G* PythW XtrapW Wif500 %for90W
TOR 25 14 0.641 0 219 5.6 167 4.3 24 104 87 0.528
BOS 22 15 0.595 2 198 5.4 180 4.9 20 96 85 0.544
NYA 19 17 0.528 4.5 195 5.4 210 5.8 17 86 82 0.563
TB 18 20 0.474 6.5 203 5.3 189 5.0 20 77 80 0.581
BAL 16 21 0.432 8 186 5.0 216 5.8 16 70 79 0.592
As much as hate to admit it, this is probably the most interesting division in baseball right now. The Red Sox and Yankees should have very good teams, and the Rays--despite their record--have played every bit as tough as the rich teams. But the Blue Jays have been the class of the division thus far, sporting both the best offensive and the best defensive (pitching + fielding) performances. You have to expect some of Toronto's hitter's to fall back to earth--none of Barajas (0.820), Hill (0.927), and Scutaro (0.869) have OPS'd over 0.800 before this season. And they've gotten unreal pitching performances from Romero and Cecil. It will be interesting to see how long they can hold off their division rivals.

Central
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA RA/G* PythW XtrapW Wif500 %for90W
DET 19 16 0.543 0 190 5.4 163 4.7 20 88 83 0.559
KC 19 18 0.514 1 166 4.5 151 4.1 20 83 82 0.568
MIN 18 19 0.486 2 181 4.9 197 5.3 17 79 81 0.576
CHA 15 20 0.429 4 135 3.8 162 4.6 15 69 79 0.591
CLE 14 24 0.368 6.5 198 5.2 218 5.7 17 60 76 0.613
Another rather evenly matched division, though perhaps without the quality of the east. The Tigers have had the best offense, but the Royals have had the best defense--thanks in no small part to the spectacular first month and a half for Zach Greinke. Nice also to see Brian Bannister having a nice bit of success in the early goings. The Tigers have their own surprise--Brandon Inge is OPSing 0.954--but they have a lot of guys who aren't really hitting yet (Granderson, Guillen, Ordonez) and thus might actually improve even as Inge cools.

West
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA RA/G* PythW XtrapW Wif500 %for90W
TEX 22 14 0.611 0 200 5.6 174 4.8 20 99 85 0.540
LAA 18 17 0.514 3.5 177 5.1 179 5.1 17 83 82 0.567
SEA 17 20 0.459 5.5 152 4.1 179 4.8 16 74 80 0.584
OAK 13 20 0.394 7.5 145 4.4 162 4.9 15 64 78 0.597
The Angels have had as much bad luck and tragedy as any team I can remember, but still are right at 0.500 thanks their great depth. The Rangers, though, have taken advantage of the weak division, riding hot starts by Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Kevin Millwood to a nice little division lead. Not as impressive is the offense of Ken Griffey Jr.'s Seattle Mariners. Thank goodness they at least have Russell Branyon.

Team performance breakdown

Below is a kind of power ranking of teams based on their component statistics. I estimate team runs scored using linear weights (actually, FanGraphs does, though I park-adjust it), pitching performance based on FIP (I do park-adjust the HR's), and fielding based on UZR. I use those numbers to estimate team runs scored and runs allowed, and then use PythagenPat to estimate expected winning percentage. It's not perfect, but this should give us another look at team performance that gets beyond actual wins, losses, and runs scored or allowed.




Offense Pitching Fielding Overall
Rank Prev Team OBP SLG wOBA* wRC* ERA FIP* K/9 BB/9 HR*/9 FIPRuns* bUZR THT+/- DER ExptW%
1 - Blue Jays 0.359 0.460 0.356 225 3.97 4.23 6.8 3.1 0.9 181 6.2 24.8 0.720 0.619
2 - Rays 0.346 0.452 0.357 214 4.83 4.83 6.5 3.8 1.2 191 16.3 0 0.689 0.595
3 - Royals 0.335 0.421 0.334 174 3.63 3.76 7.5 3.4 0.7 149 -3.8 -4.8 0.685 0.560
4 - Rangers 0.335 0.496 0.357 201 4.66 5.02 5.3 3.4 1.2 192 15.2 19.2 0.712 0.560
5 - Tigers 0.340 0.426 0.337 170 4.31 4.29 7.3 3.6 1.0 160 4.7 8.8 0.704 0.544
6 - Red Sox 0.364 0.451 0.351 204 4.82 4.67 7.4 4.0 1.1 185 -12 -7.2 0.677 0.517
7 - Yankees 0.350 0.467 0.358 211 5.41 5.28 7.2 4.2 1.4 203 -4.1 4 0.691 0.509
8 - Indians 0.355 0.420 0.345 204 5.62 5.03 6.6 4.0 1.3 199 -2.8 -12.8 0.673 0.505
9 - Angels 0.344 0.414 0.339 174 4.70 4.61 6.0 3.4 1.0 171 -4.1 -10.4 0.690 0.497
10 - Twins 0.347 0.417 0.338 183 5.20 4.91 6.2 3.0 1.4 192 -0.1 -0.8 0.696 0.476
11 - Orioles 0.342 0.437 0.340 182 5.51 5.11 6.6 3.3 1.5 196 -9 -20 0.666 0.444
12 - Mariners 0.305 0.378 0.305 138 4.25 4.46 6.8 3.7 1.0 178 10.6 -4.8 0.689 0.411
13 - White Sox 0.317 0.385 0.306 132 4.71 4.05 7.0 3.8 0.7 150 -14.4 -19.2 0.667 0.398
14 - Athletics 0.309 0.338 0.294 116 4.12 4.57 6.2 3.6 1.0 167 -0.2 -11.2 0.689 0.333
The only major disparity I see is with the Indians, who have apparently hit and pitched well enough to expect a 0.500 record, and yet are somehow 10 games below 0.500. Their true pythagorean record is 17 wins, but indications here are that they've given up quite a few more runs than expected. Are they just unlucky, or are the methods missing in this case? Part of the answer might be with the fielding estimates: bUZR rates them as only slightly below average, but THT's batted-ball based plus/minus stat (as well as straight-up DER) pegs them at second-worst in the league. Perhaps bUZR is overrating their defense?

What's up with the Athletics offense? They add Giambi, Holliday, and Nomah, and yet have a wOBA under 0.300? Beane must be blowing a gasket.

  • Top hitting teams (wOBA*): Yankees, Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays, Red Sox (holy AL East!)
  • Top pitching teams (FIP*):Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners
  • Top fielding teams (bUZR): Rays, Rangers, Mariners (maybe), Blue Jays, Tigers
  • "Expected" leaders: Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers
  • "Expected" Wild card: Rays
Blue Jays rank in top five in hitting, pitching, and fielding. What will they have to do to keep their lead the rest of the way?