Parity Comes To The AL

Here’s a question – who is the worst team in the American League this year?

The Indians currently have the worst record at 5-10, but they have the highest wOBA of any team in baseball and a significant amount of talent. With a -5 run differential, they’re not even struggling that much out of the gates. I think we can safely disqualify them.

Both Oakland and Los Angeles are off to 5-9 starts, but they entered the seasons as the two teams picked to contend for the AL West division title. The Angels have been playing at less than full strength, while the A’s are waiting for their newly imported offense to start hitting. They might not be great teams, but they have plenty of reasons to think they won’t be among the league’s worst.

Tampa Bay is 6-9. They were in the World Series last year. They’re out.

Texas is 6-8 so far, and most people had them finishing last in the AL West. As always, the offense is good and the pitching is bad. But with an offense this good and a ton of young talent on the way (Derek Holland just arrived in the majors to lead the wave), it’s hard to see them finishing with less than 70 wins.

Minnesota? They’re 7-9 without Joe Mauer, and while they have the worst run differential in the league so far, adding an MVP-calilber catcher will help significantly.

Baltimore? 7-9 to start off, and like Texas, they can score but not pitch. However, like Texas, there’s just too many good players on the O’s to see them as truly awful, and Matt Wieters will eventually join the club.

Every other team in the AL is currently above .500. Kansas City and Seattle are good candidates to regress from unsustainable hot starts, but they each have wins in the bank that aren’t going to be taken away. Even if we expect them to play at their projected preseason levels, they’ve won enough games early on to add a couple of wins to our end-of-season expectations.

If there’s a truly bad team in the American League, I can’t find them. There are teams that are better than others, but it’s the National League that features all the turkeys this year. Right now, it looks like every team in the junior circuit will finish with 70+ wins.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Drew
Guest

I’ve got to think that +18 from one single win skews the Indians run differential, maybe just a little.

Snapper
Guest
Snapper

Good catch. NYY and CLE pythags aren’t going to be too useful for a few months.

B
Guest
B

I still think Pythag-blowouts is a much better indicator of future success than Pythag alone. The Yanks pretty much have no chance of having a very good run differential this year, just because of 3 terrible losses. They could win 95, deserve it, but have a Pythag of 90 wins.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I looked at the effects of blowouts and they definitely have an effect.

http://jeffsqanda.blogspot.com/2008/10/can-1-run-games-and-blowout-wins-and.html

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