Table of Contents

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

National League Update - Through 5/12/09

I thought I'd try something new tonight and do a league recap. The plan is to do a Reds-centric recap in alternation with this recap on some kind of regular schedule. We'll see. :)

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.

NL East
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA RA/G* PythWins XtrapWins Wif500 %for90W
NYN 18 14 0.563 0 158 4.9 138 4.3 18 91 83 0.554
PHI 16 14 0.533 1 166 5.5 156 5.2 16 86 82 0.561
FLA 17 16 0.515 1.5 153 4.6 162 4.9 16 83 82 0.566
ATL 16 17 0.485 2.5 144 4.4 143 4.3 17 79 81 0.574
WAS 10 21 0.323 7.5 162 5.2 197 6.4 13 52 76 0.611
Pretty tight division thus far, especially when you note that the Mets just swept the Braves to push Atlanta as far down as they now are. The Mets and the Braves have had the best defense, but the Phillies and Adam Dunn's Nationals have had the best offense. The Nationals' general lack of pitching and defense will keep them out of the race, but at this point all other teams are in it. Should be fun to watch.

P.S. Condolences to Zimmerman on having his hit streak stopped at 30.

NL Central
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA RA/G* PythWins XtrapWins Wif500 %for90W
STL 20 13 0.606 0 177 5.3 155 4.7 19 98 85 0.543
MIL 19 14 0.576 1 164 5.0 142 4.3 19 93 84 0.550
CIN 19 14 0.576 1 145 4.4 141 4.3 17 93 84 0.550
CHN 18 14 0.563 1.5 149 4.7 144 4.5 16 91 83 0.554
HOU 14 18 0.438 5.5 135 4.2 161 5.0 13 71 79 0.585
PIT 13 19 0.406 6.5 140 4.4 143 4.5 16 66 78 0.592
Thus far it's been a four-team race. The Cardinals have had the best offense--I hear they have a good first baseman. But their defense hasn't been on par with top run-prevention teams Milwaukee and Cincinnati (hehe--I just love saying that). Milwaukee has looked surprisingly strong defensively (pitching + fielding), at least to my eye. Pythagoras thinks that the Pirates' record is far below where it should be, with a combination of a decent offense (same R/G as the Reds') and decent enough pitching. I'm skeptical, simply because it's the Pirates. :)

Heading into tonight's action, the Reds and Brewers were tied for the lead in the NL wild card race. No, it's never too early to point that out.

NL West
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA RA/G* PythWins XtrapWins Wif500 %for90W
LAN 22 12 0.647 0 191 5.6 135 4.0 22 105 86 0.531
SF 18 14 0.563 3 128 4.0 134 4.2 15 91 83 0.554
COL 13 18 0.419 7.5 145 4.7 132 4.3 17 68 79 0.588
SD 13 20 0.394 8.5 135 4.1 180 5.5 12 64 78 0.597
ARI 13 21 0.382 9 120 3.5 150 4.4 14 62 77 0.602
The Giants are trying to hang in there, and the Rockies are probably a lot better than they've shown. But so far, the Dodgers have been running away with it. Their offense has been amazing, and as I write this they're up 7-1 on the Phillies, but it remains to be seen how much of an impact losing Manny will have. The thing is, they've also had the best defense in the division thus far, are their fielding should just improve with Manny out. They look tough.

Team performance breakdown

What I'm doing below is using some objective methods to estimate what team performance "should be." 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; I'd rather use tRA*, but I can't pull it automatically from statcorner using excel and it takes too long to type it in), 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. You can think of the list below as a sort of power ranking in the National League.


Offense Pitching Fielding Overall
Team OBP SLG wOBA wRC* ERA FIP* K/9 BB/9 HR*/9 FIPRuns* bUZR THT+/- DER ExptW%
Dodgers 0.372 0.423 0.352 191 3.81 3.90 7.5 3.8 0.7 142 -12.6 8.8 0.718 0.597
Brewers 0.350 0.443 0.346 171 4.12 4.54 7.3 3.8 1.1 159 11.6 13.6 0.719 0.570
Mets 0.368 0.429 0.350 171 3.89 4.25 7.0 4.0 0.8 145 -5.8 4 0.7 0.559
Braves 0.346 0.402 0.331 155 3.98 3.78 7.8 3.6 0.7 134 -3.5 -0.8 0.687 0.557
Cardinals 0.347 0.442 0.346 174 4.16 4.40 6.6 3.4 1.0 155 -3.4 -5.6 0.686 0.545
Reds 0.333 0.410 0.329 148 3.98 4.28 6.9 3.8 0.8 153 10.2 4.8 0.702 0.516
Nationals 0.361 0.448 0.356 184 5.54 5.15 5.9 4.5 1.1 172 -12.6 -14.4 0.668 0.499
Rockies 0.338 0.447 0.344 144 4.47 4.43 6.5 3.4 1.0 144 -2 10.4 0.694 0.493
Phillies 0.341 0.450 0.348 156 5.31 5.47 6.8 3.8 1.6 173 7.6 13.6 0.709 0.471
Cubs 0.335 0.416 0.331 144 4.52 4.42 8.5 4.3 1.1 151 -3.8 -2.4 0.704 0.467
Padres 0.314 0.389 0.312 142 4.77 4.57 7.2 4.2 1.0 159 -0.3 -4 0.686 0.448
Pirates 0.327 0.392 0.319 138 4.20 4.89 5.6 4.1 1.0 162 5.4 10.4 0.714 0.439
Astros 0.324 0.395 0.315 135 4.57 4.61 6.8 3.9 1.0 162 5.4 -4 0.677 0.432
Marlins 0.319 0.377 0.309 135 4.35 4.20 7.6 3.8 0.9 151 -9 -2.4 0.684 0.420
Diamondbacks 0.309 0.392 0.310 126 4.44 4.30 7.1 3.2 1.1 157 4.5 4 0.695 0.408
Giants 0.315 0.364 0.302 116 4.07 4.43 8.1 4.0 1.1 153 4.1 -4.8 0.694 0.384

The Reds come out looking pretty good here, ranking as the 6th-best team in the National League thanks to their pitching and fielding. The teams that rank above them are not a surprise, though the Brewers' ranking at #2 is pretty impressive.

But there are surprises among teams below the Reds. The Nationals show up as an expected-0.500 team here thanks to an offense that is expected to score 20 more runs than it actually has produced thus far (second only to the Dodgers). The Marlins and especially the Giants look to have massively overperformed thus far. The Marlins' offensive numbers are very weak (0.309 wOBA), and their expected runs scored is almost 20 runs below their actual total.

The Giants, on the other hand, look lucky in both their offensive production AND defensive run prevention. I'd estimate that their record should be closer to 12-20 than it's actual mark at 18-14. I expect them to fall out of the race quickly, which might end up leaving the Dodgers to seal off that division by mid-June or so. Unless the Rockies can catch them...
  • Top hitting teams (wOBA): Nationals, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Brewers
  • Top pitching teams (FIP*): Braves, Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Reds
  • Top fielding teams: Brewers, Reds, Phillies, Pirates, Astros (maybe--Dodgers have a legit argument, despite their UZR)
  • "Expected" playoff teams: Mets, Brewers, Dodgers win divisions, Braves win wild card