Sunday, May 05, 2013
The American League Graph, 2013Posted by Dave Studeman
I've been creating these graphs for about 20 years or so. For a while, I mostly created them for myself, because I'm kind of a visual person. When the Internet came along, I posted them on a website of my own (http://www.baseballgraphs.com) and then I moved them here to the Hardball Times nearly ten years ago. They've stood my own subjective test of time, so I'm going to force one of them on you today.
Here is a simple runs scored/allowed graph for the American League this year, through Saturday's games. Runs scored are on the X axis, and runs allowed are on the Y axis. I changed the Y axis so that teams that allow fewer runs are at the top of the graph—this way, the best teams are in the upper right-hand corner, which is how most people naturally interpret graphs.
I also added dotted lines that represent an expected winning percentage based on runs scored and allowed; the number next to the team's name indicates how far their actual record varies from their expected record. (Recall that teams tend to regress to their expected winning percentage, particularly in one-month samples.
So what does the graph say? A few fundamental, probably unsurprising, things:
- The Rangers are the best team in the league so far (highest above the .600 line) and they're doing it with the best pitching and fielding in the league. Their offense has been average to date.
- The Red Sox and Tigers are nearly as good as the Rangers; not-quite-as-good-but-still-excellent pitching and fielding, yet stronger offenses.
- The Indians are better positioned than the Yankees, but their actual records are reversed because of differences between their runs scored/allowed and their actual wins and losses. The Yankees are 11-2 in games decided by two runs or fewer.
- The surprising Royals are about as good as the Red Sox and Tigers on defense and as good as the Rangers on offense.
- On the other hand, the disappointing Blue Jays have the worst offense—just behind the White Sox and Mariners—and the second-worst defense.
- The Astros have the worst defense (that is, pitching and fielding) by far.
Dave was called a "national treasure" by Rob Neyer. Seriously. Comments about this article can be sent to him through the miracle of e-mail.