Reality Check

I enjoy using the BaseRuns formula as a sanity check for team performance to date. There are big flaws in simply taking a team’s actual runs scored and allowed and applying the Pythagorean formula to come up with expected wins. It assumes that the actual run totals are sacrosanct when they are anything but. Especially so early in the year when factors such as competition faced and home/away splits are more likely to be dramatic.

I ran through each team coming into play today and noted the difference in what BaseRuns said the team should have scored and allowed and their actual results so far. There is little surprise at the bottom of the table; Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston and Pittsburgh have all legitimately played atrociously. Pittsburgh has actually been more than doubled up on runs allowed versus runs scored and if they kept playing at this level, BaseRuns says they would be a 39-win team.

The top of the table also is not shocking, but it does affirm some early season surprises. The Yanks are on top, but second place belongs to those stingy Giants, leading the league in run prevention. The Cardinals, Rockies and Twins follow suit, even though the Twins have gotten lucky so far on their own solid run prevention numbers.

Among teams that BaseRuns decrees are ten or more games off their straight pythag win-loss record are the Rays, currently 13 wins lucky but still a legit top ten team. The Blue Jays are ten games unlucky on their projected pace and the White Sox are 14 games on the same side of the ledger.

By far the biggest outlier is the New York Mets. They have scored 86 and allowed 69 for a pythag pace of 95 wins. According to BaseRuns they should have scored 82, but allowed 88 for a BaseRuns pace of just 76 wins. That is a mammoth 19-win spread and a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about jumping on the Mets bandwagon for 2010. That’s not to say it cannot be done, but they need to up their level of play dramatically.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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Temo
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Temo
6 years 2 months ago

Would it be possible to get the entire list?

R.Dwyer
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Member
R.Dwyer
6 years 2 months ago

I second this!

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
6 years 2 months ago

How about if Fangraphs starts publishing the on-going, up to date list, so that we can follow it all the time…

That would be sweet.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Member
6 years 2 months ago

Count me in!

Great article and analysis, would have loved to see the list…

Jesse
Member
Jesse
6 years 2 months ago

Wow. I am a Mets fan, and I was starting to finally come around to thinking we had a legitimate shot at the post season. Way to make my day.

qqqqqqqq
Guest
qqqqqqqq
6 years 2 months ago

I’m a Mets fan too, but a skeptical one hardened by recent collapses and misfortune.

This is no surprise.

Tony
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Tony
6 years 2 months ago

Not a surprising finding where it concerns the Mets. Their pitchers have put on a ton of baserunners and been very fortunate to get out of a lot of situations unscathed. They probably have the highest LOB% in baseball, which is bound to regress to the mean.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 2 months ago

Third, actually: http://www.fangraphs.com/teams.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&type=1&season=2010&month=0

And what, you mean to say they can’t, as a team, maintain Mariano Rivera’s career strand rate?

/facetious

adohaj
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adohaj
6 years 2 months ago

What about the 8.11 K/9

jskelly4
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jskelly4
6 years 2 months ago

The Mets pitchers have put a ton of runners on base especially via walk but according to Patrickfloodblog.com
“But, again, the Mets are throwing strikes at the league average rate – in other words, the Mets are throwing strikes exactly as often as everyone else is, 62% of the time. They’re not throwing any more, they’re not throwing any less.”

Maybe I’m wrong but wouldn’t this mean the Mets have walked a lot more batters than they should have based on their Strike%? So the number of runners allowed should go down anyway?

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 2 months ago

Strike percentage doesn’t automatically imply a given xBB%. In the Mets’ case, they’re below-average at inducing swings on pitches outside the zone, while they have the highest Z-Swing% against in baseball. Basically, that means that teams are laying off the balls more than usual and attacking the strikes much more than usual, driving their walk rate up. It’s not good enough to be in the zone – you have to miss bats (the Mets don’t with their above average contact percentage), and hitters haven’t been bailing their pitchers out. It could quite easily be sample-size flukes, or it could be their pitchers’ stuff isn’t fooling hitters.

wobatus
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wobatus
6 years 2 months ago

Pelfrey, Niese and Feliciano especially are all walking more than you’d expect given their history, and are all groundballers. What’s their DP rate? Takahashi also seems to be walking (and K’ing) more than he did in Japan. Nieve also has been walking guys, and of course Ollie, and Maine to a degree too. I’d expect things to balance out somewhat. They have been lucky.

Nieve is also walking guys a bit and is on pace for over 100 games. I don’t know but something’s gotta give. I don’t know that Jerry and Omar are getting the right signals from the start. In fact I know they aren’t. But I don’t think the walks should be quite this big a problem. If Maine’s start last night means he is getting on the right track, I think they may have 3 decent starters after Ollie. And perhaps f they gave Mejia some more important innings (well, as long as he’s up in tha majors anyway) over Nieve and Feliciano went back to his normal rates.

OK, that’s a lot of ifs. It’s still April, so don’t be killjoys.

wobatus
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wobatus
6 years 2 months ago

need an editor. 3 decent starters after Joha (if maine can build on yesterday). Maybe Takahashi can replace Ollie if he keeps struggling. The walks are a bit much right now, but more than what their histories would lead you to expect.

Franco
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Franco
6 years 2 months ago

Los Mets. Their hitting is going to get better, it just has to after being dreadfully underperforming for the most part. The pitching is truly mediocre and has been getting lucky this year. Big Pelf and Niese especially.

Steven Ellingson
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Steven Ellingson
6 years 2 months ago

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2010/4/28/1449866/btb-power-rankings-week-4#storyjump

Justin’s power rankings at BTBS have the Mets at an expected .435 winning percentage based on their components. They have scored 2 more runs than expected, and given up 33 less.

So, yeah, the Mets will need to get better in order to keep it up.

Bender
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Bender
6 years 2 months ago

The Rays are only playing like a 110 win team so far? Darn.

DR
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DR
6 years 2 months ago

The Jays are underperforming their BaseRunPythag? Shocking!

If one of you fangraphs people could figure out how to get them to stop doing that ever damn year, it owuld be worth a small fortune to the organization.

Torgen
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6 years 2 months ago

Fire Cito. I don’t think it would work, but at least Cito would be fired. (Although poor bullpen management and lineup construction seem like a great way to lose close games.)

SF_Matt
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SF_Matt
6 years 2 months ago

Before making a comment like “they need to up their level of play dramatically”, do you think it’s worthwhile to look into why the Mets are outperforming by so much? Is it pure luck, or do they have an attribute that leads them to outperform?

Taking babip as an example, there are some types of hitters that will consistently outperform the league average and other types of hitters that will consistently underperform compared to the league average. To assume that everybody will revert to league average would be foolish. With BaseRuns, why would we assume that every team will react the same way?

BlackOps
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BlackOps
6 years 2 months ago

An attribute like grission? Could be.

John Wright
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6 years 2 months ago

Excellent points.

Which version of BaseRuns did you use? I got a little inspired and tried to duplicate the results, mainly to see how much the Braves’ losing streak was hurting them. I didn’t adjust for run environments; I don’t know if you did, but I’m not well-versed in how to do that, and I didn’t attempt to do so.

See the spreadsheet here:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6494767/2010%20BsR%20Standings.xls

I commented a little more on my method here:
http://www.jfwiii.net/blog/?p=1413

The spreadsheet should update daily via an Excel web query of this site for the stats and B-R.com for the standings.

Hope that’s helpful to anyone clamoring for a full list.

CaseyB
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CaseyB
6 years 2 months ago

Sweet. I love it when the Mets are proving the naysayers wrong — both the sabermetric folks and those who couldn’t tell wOBA from OBP. I think team performance is the most difficult to predict from mere numbers as there are so many more intangibles involved than in individual performance. And the players on a team may vary a lot throughout the season — as will the players and strength of the opposing teams.

Obviously the Mets aren’t going to keep up with their hot pace of the last week. But they are a lot better team than most everyone here gave them credit for before the season started. And in the end, they will prove the naysayers more wrong than right. I’m still sticking with my original prediction of 92 wins.

Gina
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Gina
6 years 2 months ago

Does that mean if in the end the naysayers were right you’ll come back here and admit you were wrong?

CaseyB
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CaseyB
6 years 2 months ago

I’ll be back Gina, no matter what. I didn’t give a prediction as a challenge or game. I gave it because I truly believe the Mets are a lot better team than most everyone gave them credit for at the start of the season. And that of course includes the minor league system which should always be a consideration in giving a pre-season prediction. It did in mine.

CaseyB
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CaseyB
6 years 2 months ago

And while I predicted 92 wins, if they fall a little short (say 88 wins or so) … I think I will have been more right than all those who predicted a .500 record or worse which is basically just about everyone I can think of with the exception of optimistic Mets fans.

Gina
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Gina
6 years 2 months ago

Pretty much every prediction I’ve seen has put them around 82 wins. What predictions have you seen for far worse?

CaseyB
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CaseyB
6 years 2 months ago

Fourth place, 78-84.

That was written by none other than Adam Rubin. I expected a fairer prediction especially from him since he knows the organization so well, but then I figure he’s still bitter over last summer’s fiasco with Omar. (I can’t blame him.)

Here’s the link:
http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/47/2010-prediction-meet-the-mash

Now it’s your turn Gina. Find me one prediction (with link) from a mainstream or semi-mainstream site (no fan/blog site) that said the Mets will finish at .500 or above. I never saw one, though I simply may have missed it. From just about every pundit’s mouth this spring and from every major sports website (including this one), all I heard/saw were the direst of predictions, with virtually all saying the Mets will be fighting with the Nats to stay out of the basement. If they didn’t give an exact number of wins, it would likely have had to be around .500 and below to fit that scenario. Really, it was one big super gloomfest for the Mets at the beginning of the year when it came to “expert” opinion. To them, It was as if none of the huge amount of injuries suffered by the Mets last year had no major impact on their poor 2009 season. Which is just illogical to me.

Gina
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Gina
6 years 2 months ago

I said around 82 wins not better. Chone and Marcel had them at 80 and 81 respectively and Cairo had us at 82 before Reyes’s set back in spring training, I haven’t looked since. I’d suggest not putting much faith into random beat writer projections when there are much better projection systems available.

http://www.baseballprojection.com/2010/standings2010.htm – Chonehttp://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/4939 -Cairo

CaseyB
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CaseyB
6 years 2 months ago

Well 81-82 is consistent with my statement that virtually everyone in the world had the Mets at .500 or well below.

As far as making a distinction between beat writers/baseball analysts and projection systems, I am not making one, and it is not very relevant to my point. They ALL have the Mets doing poorly this year. Doesn’t matter. And don’t worry, I have no faith in any system or writer who placed the Mets that low this year. Projection systems are especially suspect when it comes to “team” projections as I mentioned in my original post.

BTW, here’s another dire prediction for the Mets this year:

“It would be tough enough for the Mets to compete for a division title with five stars and a miserable bottom 20 … The Mets might lose 90 games.”

LOL, that’s well below .500. That’s from Johah Keri at the Huffington Report.

CaseyB
Guest
CaseyB
6 years 2 months ago

Gina — one thing about the projections you linked to … they both have the Braves finishing #1 in the division. They currently sit in last place, mired in a bad slump. I know there is still a long way to go in the season, but from what I saw during the Mets-Braves series that just finished, they have much more serious issues than the Mets. Age being a big one. I will be shocked if the Braves finish any higher than 4th in the division and any higher than the Mets. The projections are way off on the Braves.

Gina
Guest
Gina
6 years 2 months ago

There’s a pretty massive difference between systems predicting 81-82 wins and predicting 76-77 wins. A team predicated to win 81-82 games could reasonably be expected to win up to 86 with a few lucky breaks, a team predicted to win 76-77 could not. Predicting a team to win 81-82, especially with the health of two of their top players (Reyes/Beltran), uncertain, and a mess of a rotation really isn’t expecting them to be that bad.

Gina
Guest
Gina
6 years 2 months ago

I actually think the mets pitching has looked a lot worse than it’s numbers have said, we’ve had a lot of relievers starting escape unlikely jams and scrape by unscathed despite looking bad, but I do wonder if it’s possible the number of runs we should have given up is skewed by that 20 inning game (where the Cardinals basically loaded the bases every inning of extras).

psiogen
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

The Mets have had a wacky April. They are going to regress in a lot of different ways. They’ve been extremely lucky to not be hurt by all those walks, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to keep walking this many batters all season. On the other hand, they may not keep leading the league in strikeouts all season either. The pitching staff is going to fare worse, but it’s hard to say how much.

On the hitting side, they’ve underperformed massively. I’d be extremely surprised if they continue to post a team-wide sub-.700 OPS for the rest of the season.

Your Reality Check is interesting, but the 76-win projection isn’t really any more “real” than the 95-win projection, since they’re both based on a small sample size.

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