Taking Stock of the AL East, Part 2

Earlier, I went through the actual, run differential and BaseRuns standings of the top three in the AL East and came out with three different positions for each team one through three, depending on the method. Today I am looking at discrete units of each team (pitching, defense, offense) with our best available metrics, in my opinion, and see where the teams stack up.

First up, pitching. We use FIP here at FanGraphs and I am also partial to tRA as you may have noticed, so I will list both. Based off FIP, FanGraphs lists the Red Sox pitching staff at 18.8 wins above replacement, the Rays at 11.6 and the Yanks at 11.4. tRA only reports runs against average, and it has Boston at 68.8, Tampa at -13.9 and New York at -21.4. Either way, we have the Red Sox well out in front, through tRA sees a larger gulf between them and the other two teams.

For defense, we make use of UZR here on FanGraphs. The Rays lead the three teams with a 38.8 runs above average mark, third best in all the Majors. The Yankees are at -14.7 runs and the Red Sox are dead last at -29.8 runs. That certainly helps to level the playing field between the teams when it comes to the runs allowed department.

For offense, I will list two methods. The first is the baserunning-included version of wOBA presented here on FanGraphs. Factoring in positional and replacement level adjustments, done automatically, we have the following figures for runs above replacement

wOBA
BOS – 173.6
NYA – 246.4
TBA – 217.7

Another method to estimate run scoring ability would be to look at just that half of the BaseRuns output, which gives us these readings

BaseRuns
BOS – 560
NYA – 613
TBA – 589

Do not worry about converting one to another. Here is what sounds like delicious agreement between the two systems. The Yankees are tops in both, followed by Tampa in both, 28.7 runs behind by wOBA, 24 runs behind by BaseRuns. Boston is in the rear, 72.8 runs behind New York by wOBA, 53 by BaseRuns. 20 runs is a bit more than I would like to see in difference for perfect agreement, but it is pretty solid.

Adding it all together looks like this. By FIP, UZR and wOBA (the three listed here on FanGraphs) we would expect to see:
Tampa, —
New York, 1.5
Boston, 3.5

By tRA, UZR and BaseRuns, we arrive at:
Tampa, —
Boston, 1.0
New York, 4.0

That is a lot of different standings to look at so consider this a summation. Apart from actual wins and losses, Tampa always rates favorably, as either the divison leader or a close second (and Tampa has since taken over the run differential lead from Boston after last night’s game). Who deserves second place between Boston and New York is much harder to figure and essentially is a toss up. No matter which system you use, all three teams are within striking distance and that should make this a real exciting pennant drive as they fight for a likely, and maximum, two playoff spots.



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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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whyshortensomethingalreadyshortenough
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whyshortensomethingalreadyshortenough
7 years 18 days ago

Tampa, c’mon the team plays in St. Pete, it’s either Tampa Bay or the Rays

J
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J
7 years 17 days ago

Who cares? Without Tampa, St. Pete would just be another lazy Florida town. Not that downtown Tampa is anything great, but have you seen downtown St. Pete? Economic horror show.

max
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max
7 years 18 days ago

Great analysis. Honestly, all three teams are strong and I don’t think any one has a clear advantage over another.

The race for the AL East division lead is going to be great.

Mr. S
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Mr. S
7 years 18 days ago

I still think the Yankees are a better team right now than eitjer.

snapper
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snapper
7 years 18 days ago

+1 This is not the same Yankees team from the first two months. They fixed the pen, ARod is back, and no one can pitch as bad as Wang did, not even Sergio Mitre.

GhettoBear04
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GhettoBear04
7 years 18 days ago

It’s kind of interesting that it’s New Yorks’ hitting vs Boston’s pitching vs Tampa’s defense. Obviously, that’s a gross simplification, but it seems to fit in with my stereotypes about each team.

Reuben
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Reuben
7 years 18 days ago

Based on this analysis, you have to love the Rays’ chances in the next 5 years. Their biggest weakness (comparatively) is their pitching, and they have tons of guys in the chute ready to fix that. Who does NY have that will help with their defense? Who does Boston have that will buttress their offense as Bay, Ortiz, Lowell, and Drew disappear?

If I were a betting man, I’d bet on the Rays winning 2-3 of the next 5 pennants.

Andrew
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Andrew
7 years 18 days ago

Don’t forget that the Rays have questions at the 1B position (Pena isn’t GG quality and is streaky with the stick), all three 0F positions, their bullpen, AND their rotation.

Crawford is a speed guy and needs his legs to be effective. If you want to see a comparable example of a guy who’s still good but in decline for similar reasons, look at Brian Roberts with my O’s. As his legs have started to go south, his BA is now dropping below .300 and his steals are way off from where they had been.

Upton looks like he could still flame out, and the lack of a natural defensive position for him is evident in his ability to judge fly-balls, also a red flag for future drops in production when he loses speed.

Frankly, the entire division is going to be loaded with talent (both developed and acquired) the next five years. The O’s haven’t even called up all of the waiting in the wings guys that have been knocking down the doors, and it looks like if the Jays could ever land a consistent power hitter they’d be in the thick too.

TJ
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TJ
7 years 18 days ago

i have no idea what you are talking about tampa has one of the deepest outfields in baseball, they have a TON of pitchers coming up and pena is a 4.0 war player

Chris
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Chris
7 years 18 days ago

Not if he keeps performing like this. He has really screwed up his swing this year. Yeah, the homers and walks (albeit down a tiny bit) are still there, but he’s striking out more and just looks lost at times at the plate. He has Ian Kinsler syndrome where he tries to get under every pitch to hit a home run.

Even if he corrects this, I really doubt he puts up many more (maybe not even one) 4 WAR seasons. He’s 31 years old, doesn’t give you a whole lot defensively, so therefore his WAR is going to have to be carried by his offensive ability, which, given his age should begin to decline.

BJ Upton
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BJ Upton
7 years 17 days ago

The lack of a natural defensive position? Please. Have you seen my UZR/150 in CF lately? It’s at 7.9 for my career and will only get better as I play more there.

tom
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tom
7 years 18 days ago

kevin youkilis is on steroids

Myke
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Myke
7 years 18 days ago

“ho does Boston have that will buttress their offense as Bay, Ortiz, Lowell, and Drew disappear?”

Ortiz? Lowell? These players are dead weight right now (even Bay and Drew arent producing a ton), ‘replacing’ them will be a joy for the red sox FO, not a burden.

I agree Tampa has a super bright future but the red sox are a financial super-power. As long as they don’t make horrible signings they will always be player for whatever premier offensive players hit the market.

The Yankees are the Yankees. However they have a TON of money committed right now over the next 6 years. Bad things can happen.

Raf
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Raf
7 years 17 days ago

“The Yankees are the Yankees. However they have a TON of money committed right now over the next 6 years. Bad things can happen.”

I doubt it. The Yankees have had tons of money committed to players the past 6 years as well, and they seem to be fine.

Myke
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Myke
7 years 18 days ago

Re: Carl Crawford

why would tampa care? they arent gonna sign him after ’10…Same thing with Pena. Tampa is super cheap.

RollingWave
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RollingWave
7 years 17 days ago

Ehh, Crawford may be gone as soon as this year (there are talks on moving him ) and Kazmir maybe gone too. I think Tampa will remain competitive but they need a lot more things to lined up right to compete than the Yanks/ Sox.

The Sox obviously have more holes to fix after this year than the Yanks. the real question for the Yankees will come after 2010 when Jeter’s contract runs out. after last year it seems like they were likely going to part ways. but if he plays more like 2009 than 2008 next year.. do you really let him go?

TJ
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TJ
7 years 17 days ago

well one thing the rays will have against them is they will no longer be getting front end first round draft picks, although its not like theres much difference between 1-5th overall and 20-30th overall in a draft with like 50 rounds plus its baseball so just about 9 out of 10 are always busts

Kevin S.
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Kevin S.
7 years 16 days ago

One thing the Rays have going for them is that much of their team was built from later draft picks, shrewd trades and FA signings. Only three of their players (four if you count Garza, who was acquired for Delmon Young) were top-ten draft picks.

Mikel
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Mikel
7 years 17 days ago

Great stuff here. But i was wondering, if it is possible, could you do the same for the NL East but if the Mets players were healthy? Meaning, if the Mets never had any of their injuries, what would the Division look like? I don’t know if this is possible, but i didn’t know a lot of this was possible, so maybe i’ll be surprised.

Once again an Optimist
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Once again an Optimist
7 years 16 days ago

to Mikel,

If none of the Mets ever got hurt they’d be great.

Unfortunately for them, no real depth combined with losing star players at key defensive positions leaves them where they are. The famous quote “Luck is the residue of design” applies so aptly here. Just hope that your next GM is not named Bavasi. It really could be worse.

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