The Wild, Woolly — and Mediocre — American League

Normally, when a championship season begins, there already is a pretty clear stratification of teams within a league. In the current 15-team league era, leagues often divide fairly neatly into thirds: five pretty clear contenders, five pretty clear laggards or rebuilders and five “meh” clubs in the middle. As the season begins to unfold, a game of musical chairs begins, with a contender or two often falling short and a club or two from the “meh” and rebuilder categories making a surprise run.

The 2014 American League breaks this mold. almost a full quarter into the season, there are two clear contending clubs — the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s — and only the Houston Astros are an obvious laggard. The “meh” pile is 12 deep. Let’s look at this group a little closer for clues as to who might emerge as the other three AL playoff teams.

First, let’s take a look at these 12 teams’ records entering Monday night’s games.

Thru 5/11 W L PCT
BAL 20 15 0.571
NYY 19 17 0.528
LAA 19 17 0.528
SEA 19 18 0.514
BOS 19 18 0.514
TEX 19 19 0.500
CWS 19 20 0.487
KC 18 19 0.486
TOR 18 20 0.474
CLE 18 20 0.474
MIN 17 19 0.472
TB 16 22 0.421

Yes, Virginia, the AL East Champion and two wild cards need to eventually emerge from this motley collection of clubs. Five-and-a-half games separate the top from the bottom. Amazingly, only two games separate the second- and 11th-place clubs. With a significant chunk of the season already in the books, this qualifies as parity at best — and sheer lunacy at worst.

Before I pull out my crystal ball, let’s do a little crowdsourcing and see how some baseball sites’ prognostications for the rest of the season match up:

BBREF COOL FanGraphs Pythag
LAA 0.9 LAA 57.6% BOS 63.3% LAA 0.593
SEA 0.3 BOS 40.8% LAA 51.9% TOR 0.530
CWS 0.0 BAL 40.1% TEX 43.7% SEA 0.503
TOR 0.0 TOR 35.3% NYY 30.0% CWS 0.503
KC -0.1 KC 24.9% SEA 26.9% KC 0.500
MIN -0.1 NYY 23.9% TOR 25.9% BAL 0.493
BAL -0.2 CLE 22.9% BAL 25.2% BOS 0.487
CLE -0.2 CWS 21.5% CLE 24.5% MIN 0.474
BOS -0.2 SEA 21.2% TB 19.4% TB 0.470
NYY -0.4 TEX 15.7% KC 18.8% NYY 0.466
TB -0.4 TB 14.3% CWS 3.3% CLE 0.459
TEX -0.5 MIN 13.7% MIN 0.7% TEX 0.420

Above, you see the team strength ratings/playoff odds from Baseball Reference, Coolstandings and FanGraphs, along with current Pythagorean rankings based on actual runs scored and allowed. Based both on this rankings and my own instincts, I feel somewhat confident in deeming one of these 12 clubs as clearly the best and another as clearly the worst of this 12-team group.

The Minnesota Twins rank 11th in the AL in AVG and 14th in SLG. Their team OBP ranks sixth, thanks to their newfound ability to draw walks (second in the American League). They’re close to .500 to date thanks to overperformances from Brian Dozier, Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Escobar. Shortstop (prior to the insertion of Escobar) and center field have been offensive sinkholes. Their offense, however, has been just wonderful compared to their pitching. They rank 14th in the AL in ERA and dead last in Ks, which places undue pressure on their below-average team defense. This is likely a 70-ish win club, with the first quarter of the season likely to go down as its best.

On the other end we have the Angels. Though they currently stand only two games over .500, they’ve outscored their opponents by 186-154 with very little input from Josh Hamilton or Kole Calhoun, two of their four or five best hitters. They’re ranked first in the AL in SLG, second in HR and fourth in runs despite the presence of offensive sinkholes at third base and designated hitter. Albert Pujols has led the way — and though he should regress —the return of their injured outfielders plus an eventual DH upgrade should keep the offense rolling. They lead the AL in starting pitcher IP per game (6.20), which keeps the pressure off their relatively nondescript bullpen. This is a 90-plus win team, with a puncher’s chance of bringing down the A’s.

Before trying to split hairs and separate the remainder of this 10-team mob scene, let’s take a look at one more table. Listed below is each team’s calculated offensive and defensive ERAs, based on their OBP and SLG for and against, along with their projected Pythagorean winning percentage based on this data. This winning percentage is then applied to each club’s remaining number of games to be played to determine their number of remaining wins, which then is added to their wins to date to arrive at an overall total.

Calc ERA Off Def Pythag Rem W Tot W
LAA 4.45 3.57 0.609 77 96
BOS 4.10 3.94 0.519 65 84
TBR 4.14 4.06 0.510 63 79
CLE 3.85 3.82 0.503 62 80
CHW 4.30 4.31 0.499 61 80
NYY 4.15 4.18 0.496 62 81
KCR 3.56 3.66 0.486 61 79
TOR 4.40 4.61 0.477 59 77
TEX 4.08 4.44 0.458 57 76
SEA 3.40 3.79 0.445 56 75
MIN 3.91 4.42 0.440 55 72
BAL 3.93 4.60 0.422 54 74

This sums up the overall parity/mediocrity of this group. The table above is sorted by Pythagorean winning percentage based on calculated offensive and defensive ERA. This is an eye-opening column that points out the very real possibility that the second AL wild card team will be a .500 ballclub, give or perhaps even take a game or two. Maybe the most surprising individual piece of data is the Orioles’ poor Pythagorean winning percentage of .422. The O’s have the best current record of this group, but the worst calculated OBP-SLG-ERA Pythag winning percentage. That’s worse than the Twins. My ranking of these clubs will not blindly parrot this table, though. In reverse order, let’s rank the remaining 10 clubs and finish up with our two remaining playoff teams, the AL East champ and the second wild card.

THE TRUE ALSO-RANS:

10.  Toronto Blue Jays: At some point, the five-team AL East logjam will begin to break, and an upper and lower division will emerge. The guess here is that the Jays’ utter inability to keep the opposition off of the scoreboard — and their own starting pitcher in the ballgame — will be their undoing. Jays’ starters have averaged only 5.51 IP per start, better than only Tampa Bay among this group, and these guys don’t have Alex Cobb or Jeremy Hellickson coming back. Their greatest strength is obviously their offensive power, ranking first in the AL in home runs and second in SLG. The Adam Lind/Juan Francisco combo has overperformed to date. A continuing MVP-level offensive performance from Jose Bautista is a prerequisite for ongoing contention. Second base is an offensive sinkhole. Their pen has been bad, and heavily leaned upon, and their staff is second in the AL in walks. There are numerous leaks here that should eventually combine to take this team down.

9. Chicago White Sox: Chicago’s first quarter has actually been a pretty good story, one I actually saw coming in my preseason article declaring them the “Most Interesting Rebuilder” in the American League. In any event, the clock should strike midnight for Cinderella at some point this summer, and Chicago’s lack of team run prevention ability will be to blame. The White Sox have scored the most runs in the AL to date — they have played a league-high 39 games — and rank third in the AL in AVG and fourth in SLG. They have done this largely on the back of unsustainably strong performances from Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez, with Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers also over their skis a bit at this stage of the season. They are getting nothing out of second base, third base or left field. Their pitching staff ranks 13th in ERA and Ks, and has walked the most batters of any AL club. Chris Sale should be back soon, but the problem goes beyond an injury to one pitcher. They already have used nine starters, with only Sale and Jose Quintana materially above replacement level. FanGraphs likes them the least among the above resources, with a projected 3.3% chance of making the playoffs. Their system is onto something there.

8 – Baltimore Orioles – Tough call here, but I see the O’s eventually retreating and joining the Blue Jays in the second division of the AL East. Based on OBP and SLG for and against, the Orioles’ .422 Pythag winning percentage is worse than even the Twins. The glass-half-full type might state they currently have the 3rd best record in the AL with only two HR from Chris Davis and basically nothing from Manny Machado, but the realist sees poor team run prevention skills and an offense that ranks 12th in the AL in OBP and dead last in walks. Five of their regulars have OBPs of .301 or below, Nelson Cruz can’t be expected to carry the offense all season, Matt Wieters is going to be out awhile and their team defense is not very good. This is a sub-.500 team.

7. Texas Rangers: FanGraphs sees them as the final playoff team, an outlier opinion compared to the others that see them at or near the Twins’ level. They’ve been outscored by 159-187 to date, for a .420 Pythag winning percentage based on actual runs scored. Their run prevention has been terrible, with their rotation largely in shambles behind Yu Darvish. Matt Harrison is back and Derek Holland should join him this summer, but even then their pitching will not be a true strength. Offensively, Prince Fielder has been in a slump so long that a revision of his true talent level might soon be in order, and Adrian Beltre is back but still not himself. They have gotten nothing out of catcher or second base, with Geovany Soto and Jurickson Profar still out. Shin-Soo Choo has almost singlehandedly kept the offense afloat. Their bullpen doesn’t strike people out, and it will be taxed more as the Texas summer heats up. There’s still a nice core here, but this likely isn’t the Rangers’ year.

6. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners arguably have the highest ceiling and lowest floor of the 10 core “meh” AL clubs. On one hand, they are over .500 despite getting a combined four starts to date out of Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker and running out an outfield featuring a rotating cast of replacement-level players. They do possess the most young, upwardly mobile core players among any of these clubs, though most of them were rushed to the majors and remain unfinished, showing impatience and pull-happy tendencies. Brad Miller is lost, Mike Zunino has flashed power but has a 33/3 K/BB, and their outfield situation would actually be even worse if their Plan A, which included Logan Morrison and Abraham Almonte, hadn’t been foiled by the former’s injury and the latter’s ineffectiveness. Their best-case scenario is a rosy one that features a healthy Felix Hernandez-Iwakuma-Paxton-Walker-fronted rotation with an offense starring a resurgent Miller and a more powerful Robinson Cano. That team has a legit shot. Just as likely, though, is that by June 15, only two or three of those pitchers are healthy, and some combination of James Jones, Jabari Blash and Endy Chavez are logging significant outfield time en route to a 70 to 75-win season.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR:

5. Tampa Bay Rays: Some teams have their best quarter first, and others their worst. The Rays fall into the latter camp, having come into the season with high hopes, only to lose three-fifths of their starting rotation (Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson). Moore won’t be back this year, but the other two should still have an impact. The Rays have gotten only 5.45 IP per start from their rotation, less than even the Jays, but help is on the way. Their pen has been overtaxed to date, struggling as a result. On the positive side, their offense is balanced and OBP-centered — seven regulars have OBP of .339 or better — and no one has over-performed materially to date. Their team defense is solid and is among the best of this group of teams. This club just might be the best of these 10 clubs moving forward, but might not be good enough to make up ground on enough teams to earn a playoff spot in the end.

4. Cleveland Indians: The Indians’ offense has been abysmal to date, ranking 11th in the AL in runs scored. Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall are the only regulars who are hitting, with Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Bourn all performing well below expectations. Their team defense has been subpar, particularly in the infield. This negatively impacts their strong pitching staff, which induces the most grounders in the AL. Their staff leads the AL in Ks, and the rotation has averaged an adequate 5.84 IP per start. Their bullpen has been effective, but its members are used frequently in a constant search for lefty-righty matchups, which could cause some attrition over the long haul. There’s a lot to work with here, but also too many Achilles’ heels for them to pull through.

3. Kansas City Royals:  The Royals are a lot like the Mariners, but with much less variability and volatility on both the offensive and defensive sides. Both teams can’t score, due only in part to their spacious, pitcher-friendly homes, and both claim run prevention as their strong suit— with help from their home parks. The Royals are 13th in the AL in OBP and dead last in SLG and have gotten nothing out of third base or designated hitter. No one is performing over his head, and their best hitter, Eric Hosmer, is actually having a solid year (.320-.360-.440) despite hitting only one homer to date. They are getting 6.19 IP per game from their starters, fractionally behind only the Angels among this group, and their pen is well rested and talented. Their team defense is also clearly among the best of this group. At the end of the day, however, the extra games they have to play against the Tigers may be all that separates them and the second place AL East club in pursuit of the second wild card.

THE SURVIVORS:

2. New York Yankees: There are plenty of reasons to rank this club further — perhaps much further — down this list. Their core position players are quite old, and there isn’t a lot of MLB-ready organizational depth waiting behind them. Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and now CC Sabathia have all hit the disabled list, and Nova won’t be back this year. Despite all of this, they rank fifth in the American League in offensive SLG, and third in pitching Ks, with the second fewest walks. When you get down to it, according to calculated offensive and defensive ERA, they’re a .500 club. Why pick a .500 club to make the playoffs? Well…. According to the calculated ERA table above, 81 wins gets you into the playoffs in this year’s American League; Joe Girardi got 85 wins out of a demonstrably worse 2013 club that didn’t have Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran or — most importantly — Masahiro Tanaka; and New York could win 25 to 28 of Tanaka’s 33 starts (they’re 6-1 so far), and that could barely push them over the top. They’ll win 85 again and outperform their Pythag projection.

1. Boston Red Sox: These guys are just a bit better than the other nine core “meh” teams. Their offense has struggled and ranks 10th in runs, but at their core, the Sox have a solid OBP-based attack, ranking second in the AL at .337. No one is overperforming, and various members of their outfield rotation have underperformed and should fare better as the season unfolds. Xander Bogaerts is a fly-ball hitter who hasn’t yet learned to pull and use the wall — but he will. They get plenty of innings from their starting pitchers (6.05 per game), and Boston’s pen is deep, rested and effective. Perhaps most importantly, they haven’t exhausted all of their resources at this early stage in the season, unlike most of their competitors. They have multiple MLB-ready contributors in their upper minors, either for their use or for trade, plus the financial wherewithal to make a play for an MLB free agent after draft pick compensation is no longer an issue. This team, and organization, has another gear if it needs it.

The upside of all of this parity? Each and every day, there will be a slate full of meaningful games in the American League. In fact, the Rays-Mariners series that begins tonight is actually a big one for the Rays, which stand last among the “meh” clubs to date and find themselves facing Felix and Iwakuma the next two nights. The teams might not be great, but the competition should be. Strap in and enjoy the 10-teams-for-two-spots race that never ends.




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57 Responses to “The Wild, Woolly — and Mediocre — American League”

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  1. Jason B says:

    Really enjoyed the article. All things considered I guess it’s better for MLB on a macro level to have more teams contending longer, even if not many (not any?) of them are really all that good.

    One quibble: “Prince Fielder has been in a slump so long that a revision of his true talent level might soon be in order”

    That’s a bit of gambler’s fallacy, no? Maybe he’s been in a slump so long that we’re witnessing the start of a long-term decline and his true talent level is permanently being reset lower.

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    • Dick Schofield says:

      I read Blengino’s statement as meaning exactly what you said- a downward revision is in order, maybe.

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    • Well Really says:

      Jason B: you misunderstood the excerpt. The author is agreeing with you that Fielder’s long slump means we should expect that his true talent level is lower than we had previously imagined.

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    • Jason B says:

      Gotcha! Thanks both. “Revision of” =/= “reversion to”

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    • Eric says:

      my quibble is that its stereotypical results, Yanks and Red Sox at the top making the playoff spots. Only time will tell, but to completely forego the Baltimore Orioles and their legitimate shot at the playoffs is a huge underestimation in my opinion. I think they can hold this together for the whole season

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      • Bryan Curley says:

        For the reasons stated in the article, their current level of play indicates that is unlikely. Not to say crazy things like Baltimore maintaining an unsustainable level of play can’t happen (it did just a few years ago), but it’s more reasonable that teams with better underlying performance indicators would surpass them.

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  2. Ben says:

    The article seems to assert that parity = mediocrity. Don’t agree with this logic at all. I think you’d need to look at a league’s record in interleague play before calling it mediocre.

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    • Evan says:

      The American League is 35-36 with a +4 run differential in interleague play. Is it okay to call the league mediocre now?

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    • Helladecimal says:

      I agree. There’s no real basis to call half of the MLB mediocre due to a stronger presence of competitive parity.

      There are some options to consider: have the majority of AL teams declined in quality in such lockstep fashion so that few are clearly superior than any others at this point in the season? Perhaps the fact that fewer AL teams have avoided early-season disasters that would push them out of contention would signal that the AL overall has gotten slightly stronger on the whole, while throwing out the highest and lowest performing teams?

      If the AL’s interleague record is actually 35-36 with a tight RD as another poster mentioned, wouldn’t that mean both leagues are relatively similar in terms of competitiveness, so the NL would be roughly as mediocre as the AL?

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      • Bryan Curley says:

        His argument isn’t that the AL is worse than the NL, it’s that there’s much less difference in talent between the 15 AL teams than is normal. The AL has 3 teams with more than 20 or fewer than 16 wins. The NL has 7. Since the AL = the NL (see interleague record and run differential), then the AL is comprised of more “mediocre” teams and fewer very good or very bad ones. That seems like simple enough logic to me.

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  3. Tommy John says:

    May the healthiest rotation win.

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  4. Brian says:

    Can you break down your formula for offensive and defensive ERA based on OBP and SLG? (i.e. why not just use wOBA?)

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    • James says:

      The fact that he didn’t just do that, or at least explain his methodology tells me that he searched until he found a table that properly reflected his own rankings.

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  5. JohnMel says:

    The Blue Jays have the best run differential of the group of ten you ranked and you ranked them last. In the AL East they have scored the most runs per game and the 3rd in runs allowed per game. They are a confusing team I understand as their pitching has not been great but they could finish with one of the best offenses in the AL which they are currently showcasing. It is not an offense that is wholly dependent on Bautista while he plays a key role. I would’t call Lind over performing and Francisco is not his platoon partner, he filled in while Lind was on the DL. They both are LH power guys that suck against LHP though Lind is the more balance player. The main reason Lind has performed well over the past 2 seasons is that Gibbons benches him against most LHP.

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    • RonnyRocket says:

      It’s been my observation that fangraph writers have really turned against the Blue Jays over the past year.

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      • JohnMel says:

        Pretty much everyone really… I have now read several articles that claim the AL East could go to anyone, except the Blue Jays cause their pitching sucks. Its not terrible but ya its not great. However Buehrle has been amazing, Dickey has been just okay, Hutchison has been pretty decent, McGowan has really started to be better and soon enough Stroman will replace Happ now that Morrow is gone. Janssen just returned as the closer and the pen should improve.

        Overall yes the pitching is not amazing but they are averaging around 5 runs a game.

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        • Philbert says:

          I think focusing on “overperformances” from Lind and Francisco ignores the underperformances they’ve had from Reyes, Encarnacion, Lawrie and Rasmus for a huge portion of the season so far. I think there’s enough talent there to suggest that the offense we’ve seen so far has been sustainable.

          I also think the rash of bullpen implosions we saw a couple weeks ago have blown the pitching numbers out of proportion and we’ll see those numbers level out and improve. They have some very good pitchers who were all awful for the same two week stretch, and I don’t think the current numbers accurately reflect the true talent level of the bullpen.

          This is all coming from an overly optimistic Jays fan, though, so there’s a very high probability that I’m completely wrong on everything I just said.

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        • Radivel says:

          If the same bullpen meltdowns continue to occur at the level they have so far, some changes will be made in some way. How many times can you walk 8 batters? It probably won’t happen all that often, remember that two of those guys were All-Stars (!) last year. Since there doesn’t appear to be a discernible difference in their pitching from last year, we can hope they’ll improve from 29th in the league.

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    • everdiso says:

      After last night’s win, the jays move up on all the charts posted in this article.

      Of the 12 teams discussed, the jays have moved up to:

      1st in slg for
      2nd in run diff
      2nd in espn playoff odds
      3rd in B/R team rating
      4th in fangraphs projected standings
      5th in coolstandings
      7th in obp for
      9th in obp against
      9th in slg against

      And you’ve thrown all these numbers into your stat-o-master 3000 and it came out ranking the jays 11th?

      That’s kind of bizarre.

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      • JohnMel says:

        I agree… The Jays are not an OBP driven team. They are a power hitting team that produces a significant percent of their runs from the Long Ball. They had a great offense last year despite massive time loss to its core offensive players.

        This year you are seeing one of the strongest offenses come to life, despite some weaker performances.

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  6. bookbook says:

    As a fan of the Mariners, watching them play recently against two others in this pile–the error-prone and poorly executing Rays and Royals–I’d have to say that mediocrity is the superior adjective to parity at this point in time.

    That can change, and I hope it does, but right now this is not a scrum between ten well-oiled machines executing and playing superior baseball against each other.

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  7. Chris from Bothell says:

    Yep. Injuries have really knocked many pre-season projections and forecasts sideways. I also wonder how much the transfer rule nonsense, and the plague of AAA umpires infesting some of the games thanks to replay, is skewing some of the results also.

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  8. SKob says:

    I still think Texas is in pretty good shape. Severely affected by injuries and some poor starts (Prince is less of a beast, but not this bad!) they will look very different in 2 months. Add in that their true closer is still finding his form in AAA, I think their bullpen will be in good shape down the stretch. A good run from Odor would leave them primed to make an impact trade over the summer as well. Maybe Samardzja, Stanton (yeah, right), or someone less pie-in-the-sky.

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  9. TM says:

    A bit shocked the Royals are so high. Their rotation is garbage and they can’t hit. Sure, the defense and bullpen are great but there’s no way that’ll be enough to even put them in the top 5 imo.

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  10. Baron Samedi says:

    TONY BLANGINOS BOLD PREDICSHUNS!

    For a novice, this is excellent clickbait.

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    • Troll calls troll a troll? says:

      …and for an experienced troll, this is subpar and repetitive.

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      • Baron Samedi says:

        How are you able to type with Blanginos balls cupped to tightly in your hands?

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        • Troll calls troll a troll? says:

          Still waiting for any kind of substantive critique of the article. *Gets comfortable*

          But “hey, you’re gay!” works too I guess.

          If you’re six.

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      • Baron Samedi says:

        Nice to have fans, tho.

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      • Baron Samedi says:

        What a rare fool you are, engaging in this banter like you think you’ve got something coming.

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  11. everdiso says:

    After last night’s win, the jays move up on all the charts posted in this article.

    Of the 12 teams discussed, the jays have moved up to:

    1st in slg for
    2nd in run diff
    2nd in espn playoff odds
    3rd in B/R team rating
    4th in fangraphs projected standings
    5th in coolstandings
    7th in obp for
    9th in obp against
    9th in slg against

    And you’ve thrown all these numbers into your stat-o-master 3000 and it came out ranking the jays 11th?

    That’s kind of bizarre.

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    • Radivel says:

      You probably didn’t need to post this twice, haha.

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      • everdiso says:

        Red Sox preseason ZIPS woba/era vs. 2014 woba/era so far:

        1. Rf Victorino .330 — .303
        2. 2b pedroia .340 —– .348
        3. Dh ortiz .392 ——- .360
        4. 1b napoli .353 —— .386
        5. Ss bogaerts .334 —- .321
        6. C pierzynski .314 — .312
        7. 3b m’brooks .312 —- .319
        8. Cf bradley .310 —– .298
        9. Lf sizemore .297 —- .293

        B. Ph carp .332 ——– .299
        B. Of gomes .328 ——- .319
        B. If herrera .278 —– .227
        B. C ross .289 ——— .276

        Sp lester 3.73 —— 2.75
        Sp peavy 3.74 ——- 3.09
        Sp buchholz 3.64 —- 6.44
        Sp lackey 4.07 —— 3.57
        Sp doubront 4.26 —- 5.09

        Cl uehara 2.07 —— 1.15
        Su tazawa 3.42 —— 3.00
        Su miller 3.44 —— 1.69
        Mr breslow 3.79 —– 4.50
        Mr mujica 3.90 —— 8.18
        Mr badenhop 3.96 —- 3.00
        Mr capuano 4.11 —– 2.55

        Where is this expected improvement supposed to come from?

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  12. everdiso says:

    “1. Boston Red Sox: These guys are just a bit better than the other nine core “meh” teams. Their offense has struggled and ranks 10th in runs, but at their core, the Sox have a solid OBP-based attack, ranking second in the AL at .337. No one is overperforming, and various members of their outfield rotation have underperformed and should fare better as the season unfolds. Xander Bogaerts is a fly-ball hitter who hasn’t yet learned to pull and use the wall — but he will. They get plenty of innings from their starting pitchers (6.05 per game), and Boston’s pen is deep, rested and effective. Perhaps most importantly, they haven’t exhausted all of their resources at this early stage in the season, unlike most of their competitors. They have multiple MLB-ready contributors in their upper minors, either for their use or for trade, plus the financial wherewithal to make a play for an MLB free agent after draft pick compensation is no longer an issue. This team, and organization, has another gear if it needs it.”

    What a bizarre assessment.

    No mention of the fact that the red sox have been the healthiest of all these teams.

    A prediction of offensive improvement based on….nothing. Hope, maybe? The offense is performing pretty much exactly as projected, with nap a bit hotter and ort a bit colder. No mention of the fact that they gave 3 kids starting who all look in over their heads. No mention of what it means that they’re relying on the corpse if grady sizemore to be an every day player…..and in the middle of their lineup no less?

    And then praising a starting staff in which 3/5 look to be in dire straights already? Doubront regressed back to normal expectations after a surprise year, buccholz losing velocity and effectiveness, and peavy riding a .240babip and 90% strand rate to overachieve his poor performance?

    Is this a boston.com article?

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    • everdiso says:

      Red Sox preseason ZIPS woba/era vs. 2014 woba/era so far:

      1. Rf Victorino .330 — .303
      2. 2b pedroia .340 —– .348
      3. Dh ortiz .392 ——- .360
      4. 1b napoli .353 —— .386
      5. Ss bogaerts .334 —- .321
      6. C pierzynski .314 — .312
      7. 3b m’brooks .312 —- .319
      8. Cf bradley .310 —– .298
      9. Lf sizemore .297 —- .293

      B. Ph carp .332 ——– .299
      B. Of gomes .328 ——- .319
      B. If herrera .278 —– .227
      B. C ross .289 ——— .276

      Sp lester 3.73 —— 2.75
      Sp peavy 3.74 ——- 3.09
      Sp buchholz 3.64 —- 6.44
      Sp lackey 4.07 —— 3.57
      Sp doubront 4.26 —- 5.09

      Cl uehara 2.07 —— 1.15
      Su tazawa 3.42 —— 3.00
      Su miller 3.44 —— 1.69
      Mr breslow 3.79 —– 4.50
      Mr mujica 3.90 —— 8.18
      Mr badenhop 3.96 —- 3.00
      Mr capuano 4.11 —– 2.55

      Where is this expected improvement supposed to come from?

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      • SamIAm says:

        Wow, that looks like it took a lot of time to type. Looks like someone is obsessed with the Bosox. Maybe time to take up a hobby? Friends? Pets?

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    • everdiso says:

      And who are the “multiple mlb-ready contributors” in Pawtucket anyways?

      These guys?

      IF Holt (26) .366babip, .903ops
      3B Cecchini (24) .379babip, .762ops
      OF Nava (31) .353babip, .751ops
      OF Brentz (25) .256babip, .722ops
      C Lavarnway (26) .311babip, .707ops

      SP Delarosa (25) .230babip, 2.89fip
      SP Barnes (24) .246babip, 3.22fip
      SP Ranaudo (24) .301babip, 3.88fip
      SP Webster (24) .279babip, 4.06fip
      SP Workman (25) .295babip, 4.79fip

      This is the crew of MLB ready help? Can’t most every other team match that AAA performance?

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  13. Orsulakfan says:

    I am used to the Orioles looking bad in analyst’s projections, but at this point I feel like there’s something wrong with the projections, not the Orioles, as they keep over-performing. Really only Wieters and Cruz are performing ahead of expectations: Machado, Davis, Jones, and Hardy should all improve, and if Gausman comes up and gives the rotation a shot in the arm, then once again the projections will be wrong. May the Birds continue to vex the projections!

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  14. everdiso says:

    And who are the “multiple mlb-ready contributors” in Pawtucket anyways?

    These guys?

    IF Holt (26) .366babip, .903ops
    3B Cecchini (24) .379babip, .762ops
    OF Nava (31) .353babip, .751ops
    OF Brentz (25) .256babip, .722ops
    C Lavarnway (26) .311babip, .707ops

    SP Delarosa (25) .230babip, 2.89fip
    SP Barnes (24) .246babip, 3.22fip
    SP Ranaudo (24) .301babip, 3.88fip
    SP Webster (24) .279babip, 4.06fip
    SP Workman (25) .295babip, 4.79fip

    This is the crew of MLB ready help? Can’t most every other team match that AAA performance?

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    • Arc says:

      I don’t know, homer. Why don’t you look up the rest of the data and find out instead of only the data you hope will suit your bias?

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  15. rustydude says:

    Tony, I love your contributions, but Boston & NY? LOL Well, sometimes the #’s point to obvious consensus driven choices and the unique premise of a piece like this just ends up seeming irrelevant.

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    • BoldPrediction: cutandpaste2013 says:

      Agree with Rusty dude. All that fancy analysis, and then spit out a conclusion that the Booya network would look highly upon (even though the Yankees finish near the bottom on two of the four). He dispels the Chisox fortunes with the conclusory statement “well Fangraphs likes them the least”, while ignoring BBREF and Pythag, which place them in the top 4. At the same time, he pumps up the Tribe for no reason, even though they rank 7, 8, 8, and 11 (also fail to consider that the Tribe eked out a .500+ season and wildcard berth by essentially beating up on one team, the Chisox). Familiar with regression to the mean- the probability that at least half the playoff field could be new and the chance of several worst to first bounceback seasons? If your ultimate prediction is 4 of last year’s 6, the usual suspects in pinstripes and an 86 win, why not just save us the pseudo-analysis and just state, “I’m going with my gut here” (and not really going out on much of a limb)?

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  16. grant says:

    Not to beat a dead horse, but Lind has only played about half the games so far due to injury. On a rate basis perhaps he has over performed, but not on a total value basis, or at least not much.

    And the Yankees may win 25 – 28 of Tanaka’s starts? The dude’s good, but winning 80 – 85% of a pitcher’s starts would make him something like the best pitcher in history.

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  17. redsoxu571 says:

    Interesting that this article settled on the Yankees and the Red Sox as the two teams above the “pack”. One started off hot with pitching, and began the season 13-9, but has seen that strength quickly erode (sadly, likely for the long term this season). The other started off with a few key lineup injuries and underperformances by its two best hitters, and started off 5-9 (with an abnormally bad 1-run record, especially for a team with strong pitching in the rotation AND bullpen).

    In other words, one of these teams is trending up, and one is trending down down down. I think the tier line needs to be redrawn.

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    • TangoAlphaLima says:

      Technically the Angels, Red Sox, and Yankees were all picked as above the “pack”, but Tony didn’t exactly make that clear.

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  18. everdiso says:

    After last night’s win, jays move up all the charts again.

    Of the 12 “middling” teams:

    1st in slg for
    2nd in run diff
    2nd in espn plyff odds
    3rd in b/r srs
    4th in standings
    4th in coolstandings
    4th in fangraphs
    7th in obp for
    8th in slg against
    11th in obp against

    Stat-o-Master 9000 still spitting out 11th overall?

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  19. Meh is not a word says:

    Use a real word please, like “mediocre” or “average” or “unspectacular”. Excessively lazy writing.

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