Baseball Standings 2012: The Good, The Bad, and the Lucky
Now that the 2012 baseball season is around one-quarter over, I thought it might be a good time to take a break from the normal fare of this blog, and check in with what’s been happening around the Majors.
It is common in the late winter and early spring to prognosticate about what will happen in the up-coming baseball season. Baseball magazines and blogs are rife with predictions. Inevitably, many of those predictions soon look pretty foolish. I’m as guilty as the next guy as far as these predictions are concerned.
But sometimes, baseball surprises us much more than usual.
Take for example, the early success of the Baltimore Orioles who currently sport a gaudy 28-17 record. They have a simply remarkable record of 15-6 on the road.
Did you see this coming? I doubt anyone else, including Orioles management on down to the lowliest clubhouse attendant, did either.
But how much of any particular teams success or failure at this point is simply pure dumb luck? Which teams are either underachieving or overachieving? And which teams are playing about as well as they should be?
One easy way to measure the difference between how a team is actually performing (its won-loss record) is to compare that team’s performance with its run differential. Run differential simply measures how many runs a team has scored vs. how many they have surrendered. The Giants, for example, have scored 184 runs this season, and they have given up 181. Thus their run differential is +3.
You would expect a team with a +3 run differential to be about one game over .500. The Giants, in fact, are three games over .500 (24-21), so it can be deduced that they’ve overachieved a little bit.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the teams. In the left-hand column is a list of teams, from best to worst, based on their winning percentage. In the right-hand column is a list of each team’s run differential, also rated from best to worst. It is interesting to note which teams are either underachieving or overachieving at this point.
1) Dodgers – .682 1) Rangers +79
2) Orioles – .622 2) Cardinals +64
3) Rangers – .600 3) Dodgers +44
3) Rays – .600 4) Blue Jays +35
5) Indians – .591 5) Braves +32
5) Nationals – .591 6) Nationals +19
7) Reds – .568 7) Red Sox +17
8) Braves – .565 8) Orioles +14
9) Cardinals – .556 8) Rays +14
10) Blue Jays – .533 10) Houston +12
10) Giants – .533 11) White Sox +11
10) Marlins – .533 12) Reds +8
10) Mets – .533 13) Yankees +7
14) Yankees – .523 14) Phillies +4
15) White Sox – .511 15) Giants +3
16) Phillies – .500 16) Cleveland +1
16) Red Sox – .500 17) Angels -2
18) Oakland – .489 18) Marlins -6
19) Houston – .477 19) Detroit -10
20) Angels – .457 19) Seattle -10
21) Detroit – .455 21) Arizona -14
21) Pirates – .455 22) Oakland -20
23) Seattle – .447 23) Kansas City -22
24) Arizona – .444 24) Colorado -27
25) Milwaukee – .409 25) Milwaukee -29
26) Kansas City – .395 26) Pirates -34
27) Colorado – .372 27) Mets -35
28) San Diego – .370 28) San Diego -37
29) Cubs – .341 29) Cubs -46
29) Twins – .341 30) Twins -72
Starting at the bottom, no matter how you cut it, it’s going to be a long year for the Padres, Cubs, and Twins. Unfortunately for the Brewers, their run differential matches their record, so there’s not much reason to expect a big turnaround there. It’s time to start selling off some of their most tradeable parts.
As for the Mets, they better not start printing playoff tickets just yet. Their run differential is that of a sub-.500 team. They’ve been playing with a lot of heart, but over the course of a 162 game season, talent usually trumps heart.
Houston is a big surprise to me, not because they are a sub-.500 team, but because their run differential suggests they should be playing better than .500 baseball.
The Cardinals already appear to be playoff bound, but their run differential suggests that the best may be yet to come for them.
The Red Sox, who have recently been playing better baseball, actually have a better run differential than the division-leading Orioles. Expect the Red Sox to close ground on Baltimore over the next several weeks, even if the slightly overachieving Orioles continue to play good baseball.
The Yankees are a decent team, but are a long way from being a 95 win team. At this point, they more closely resemble an 84-win team. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how that new reality plays out in New York.
If the White Sox can figure out how to win at home, their run differential shows that they can yet win their division this year, but Cleveland is not at all a bad team.
The Phillies, like the Yankees may be, in fact, a mediocre team masquerading as division contenders. On the other hand, the Braves and the Nationals appear to be for real.
Comparing the two columns above, what did you notice?