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April 4, 2010


Combined Hit List Rankings: Preseason Edition

by Jay Jaffe

Although the Hit List is now split into American and National League editions for the sake of sanity — mine, our editors, our readers — I'm planning on publishing a combined ranking as well. Unlike years past, this time around I will be applying league adjustment factors based upon the results of recent interleague play.

Over the past three years, the AL has won 56 percent of its games against the NL. To figure out the strength of the two "teams" that could produce a result where one won at a .560 clip, we turn to what Bill James called the Log5 method, one that Clay Davenport uses literally millions of times a day to generate the daily Playoff Odds reports at Baseball Prospectus. The formula boils down to Win% = .500 + A - B, where Win% is the observed outcome percentage (.560) and A and B are the two teams. Since we also know that in this case, the winning percentages are complementary (A + B = 1.000), it's simple algebra to determine that a .530 team playing a .470 team would produce that observed .560 winning percentage.

Of course, with 14 teams in one league and 16 in the other, it's not quite that simple, but with the current version of the Projected Standings (they've been updated since I wrote the AL one; note that the Rangers passed the A's) showing the AL at 28 games above .500 and the NL 22 games below due to rounding, our quest for precision in preseason forecasting has its limits. Since the AL's combined Pythagenpat winning percentage is .506, I've added 24 points (.024) to all AL teams' Hit List Factors, and subtracted 21 points (.024 * 14 / 16) from those in the NL. Here's where that leaves us:

Rk   Tm          HLF
 1   Red Sox    .622
 2   Rays       .591
 3   Yankees    .590
 4   Phillies   .537
 5   Rangers    .536
 6   Mariners   .534
 7   Athletics  .534
 8   Twins      .526
 9   Cardinals  .526
10   Tigers     .512
11   Indians    .512
12   Rockies    .512
13   White Sox  .512
14   Braves     .511
15   Orioles    .502
16   Angels     .501
17   Royals     .495
18   Dodgers    .490
19   Giants     .483
20   D'backs    .482
21   Marlins    .469
22   Astros     .465
23   Cubs       .462
24   Mets       .462
25   Blue Jays  .460
26   Brewers    .456
27   Reds       .456
28   Nationals  .433
29   Padres     .425
30   Pirates    .402

Yowzah. Applying the league adjustment factor leagues just one NL team in the top eight and just one AL team in the bottom eight. I can buy that, but a ranking that leaves the Royals and Orioles above the Dodgers is one that this Dodger fan has a hard time accepting. Then again, that both Ramon Ortiz and Russ Ortiz have made opening day roster of a team offering Vicente Padilla as its marquee starter feels like a Royally bad idea to me...

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

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