Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Pythagorean 7/14/2008

What was it that I, the voice of reason, said last week, as the Rays had built a 5-game lead over the Red Sox?

"...everyone who's ready to concede the division is over-reacting. Significantly...the Rays have built this lead on the strength of the kind of stretch (16-4 since the start of inter-league play) that is unlikely to continue, and they've done that while the Sox have struggled. That five game lead may be smaller, or even much smaller, when the All Star Break gets here next week."

So, a week later, Boston's gone 5-1, Tampa Bay's gone 0-7, and the lead is not only smaller, it's gone entirely. We reach the All Star break with Boston in first place.

  • If the previous week was a disaster for the Red Sox, what describes the week just past for the Rays? If you can put up a pythagorean winning percentage of .093 AND fail to reach it, well, that's pretty unpleasant. And scoring under 2 runs/game is just plain ugly.

  • The Red Sox offensive stats were obviously boosted by that 18 run outburst on Wednesday. In the other five games, they averaged under five runs/game.

  • The pitching was good, though, because you can't allow 3.17 runs/game over six games without it being consistently good. They gave up seven once and five twice, but they also allowed 0 in one game and 1 in two more.

  • If there was one starter on this team that I wanted to take a long trip to the DL, it was Julio Lugo. Yes, Varitek's been worse, but there isn't a good option if Varitek goes down. I want to see Lowrie playing everyday at shortstop. I wanted to see it before the season started, and I still want to see it.

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka is currently having a season which is essentially unprecedented in my experience. He made two more starts this week, threw 233 pitches while walking 10 in 13 1/3 innings, and allowed 0 runs. The games he pitches are excruciating to watch, as he throws a lot of pitches, a lot of balls and walks a lot of batters. But he's been almost unbelievably effective. If a pitcher can't control the strike zone, you'd expect that some of the balls that he misses with will be in the strike zone, and in good hitting spots, but that just doesn't seem to happen. He's now made 16 starts, he's 10-1, and his ERA is 2.65. And remarkably, he's pitched better than that. Following three weeks on the DL, his first start back was shaky, and he gave up 7 runs in 1 inning, taking his only loss of the year. In his other 15 starts, his ERA is 1.96, and he's only given up more than three runs once, and that was only four. His WHIP in those 15 games is 1.33, though. That's way too many base runners to actually support that ERA.

  • The "first half" finishes with the Red Sox having played nearly 60% of their schedule. They have played 50 on the road and 47 at home, so they have 34 home games and 30 road games remaining. Tampa has 31 home and 37 on the road. The Yankees have 32 home and 35 on the road.

  • I do not know if the Red Sox have now moved into first place to stay. Given that they start the post-All Star game schedule on the west coast at Anaheim while Tampa hosts Toronto, it's probably not a great bet. But I am very confident that they will, at some point, move into first place to stay. They started the season on one of the epic road trips in baseball history, playing in three separate countries and flying over 6000 miles before playing the home opener. Their ace missed two weeks, their number two starter missed three, another of their starters went on the DL, their starting third baseman missed two weeks and their DH, a perennial MVP candidate, has been out for over a month. Despite all of that, they've got the best run differential in the AL, and would have the best record were it not for LAnaheim's stunning overperformance of their pythagorean. Before the season started, many people, myself included, thought Boston was the best team in the AL. I've seen nothing that changes my opinion; indeed, it has been reinforced.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/14/2008





Tampa Bay4.61(7)4.12(6)0.551(4)524255393


New York4.59(8)4.34(7)0.526(6)504550450

Los Angeles4.31(11)4.08(5)0.524(7)504557387






Kansas City4.14(13)4.77(12)0.435(13)425443531


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Los Angeles9765


Tampa Bay9567



Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)


Tampa Bay9270

Los Angeles9270


Standings for the week







Kansas City5(8)4.14(5)0.585(5)43430

New York3.17(12)3(1)0.525(7)33330


Los Angeles5.14(7)5.29(9)0.487(9)34431





Tampa Bay1.86(14)6.43(11)0.093(14)1607-1

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