keyboard_arrow_uptop
Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Yankees
95-67
3-6
.616
Down
Not Wild About It: For the second year in a row, the Yankees finish atop the Hit List, but with a 13-17 record from September 1 onward, they lose the AL East race on the final day of the season thanks to an arduous 29-innings-in-25 hours slog at Fenway Park and wind up as the wild card; they’ll start their title defense with a first-round rematch against the Twins. Led by MVP candidate Robinson Cano, the Yanks once again finish with the majors’ highest-scoring offense thanks to six regulars with TAvs of .286 or above, but their disaster-prone rotation aside from CC Sabathia puts up a 5.91 ERA in the second half, imperiling their chances at a 28th world championship.

2


Rays
96-66
5-5
.602
Down
Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk: A day after he joins Evan Longoria in criticizing Rays fans for low turnouts, David Price tosses eight shutout innings to clinch a playoff berth; despite losing five of their final eight games against sub-.500 competition, the Rays go on to outlast the Yankees to win not only their second AL East title in three years but also home field advantage for the first two rounds. The two outspoken stars are no small part of that accomplishment; while the back of their rotation may be a mess, Price puts together a strong month (1.64 ERA in 44 IP) to finish fourth in the league in SNWP (.598) and third in ERA (2.72). Despite missing the final 10 games of the season, Longoria finishes in a dead heat with Josh Hamilton for the league’s highest WARP total (8.3). The Rays will face the Rangers in the first round.

3


Twins
94-68
2-8
.585
Down
On Target: The Twins’ big offseason payroll increase and move into a new outdoor park pays off with a division title and a franchise attendance record (3.2 million). Despite the losses of Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau, they come within two games of finishing with the league’s best record, with those players’ deprived departments rising to the occasion. The bullpen finishes third in the league in WXRL via five relievers in the top 31 but none in the top 15, while the offense cranks out 5.0 runs per game after AL TAv leader (.360) Morneau goes down, with Jim Thome (.303/.438/.669 with 15 homers in 178 PA) and Joe Mauer (.359/.434/.506) picking up the slack, the latter despite battling myriad injuries. For the fourth time in seven years, they’ll face the Yankees in the first round, this time with home field advantage, but still riding a nine-game postseason losing streak and holding an 18-54 record versus the pinstripes in the Ron Gardenhire era.

4


Red Sox
89-73
5-5
.582
Flat
Playing Out the String: Despite a lineup that’s virtually reduced to J.D. Drew and the PawSox Revue, the Red Sox end their season on a high note by preventing the Yankees from winning the AL East. They wind up notching just one less win than the AL West-winning Rangers despite season-ending injuries to Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury, not to mention a rotation whose three most expensive members (John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka) wind up with a collective 4.84 ERA and a .452 SNWP. Surreal scene: David Ortiz bunting to defeat an infield shift during the final game, then departing to an ovation after being pinch-run for. The Sox hold a $12.5 million option on the 34-year-old slugger, who overcame a rough start to post a .304 TAv (highest since 2007) but struggled mightily in high-leverage situations.

5


Rangers
90-72
6-4
.580
Flat
Out of Danger: After missing four weeks due to broken ribs, Josh Hamilton clubs a homer in his second game back on the season’s penultimate day, assuaging the Rangers’ fears as they head to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Hamilton winds up as the AL’s batting champ (.360), TAv leader (.346) and WARP co-leader (8.2), putting him in strong position to win the MVP despite his September absence. Meanwhile, Cliff Lee cruises in his final outing, alleviating concerns about his back. His .510 SNWP and 3.98 ERA as a Ranger costs him a shot at the Cy Young, but he finishes with the second-best K/BB ratio of the past half-century (10.3).

6


White Sox
88-74
8-2
.558
Up
Too Little, Too Late: The White Sox finish the year with a 9-2 run, but unfortunately it follows an eight-game losing streak which enables the Twins’ clinching of the AL Central. In the end, GM Kenny Williams’ failure to re-sign Jim Thome or another qualified DH undoes an offense that finishes ninth in TAv (.259), and the bold gambits of acquiring Jake Peavy and swapping Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson aren’t enough to prop up a similarly middling rotation (seventh in SNLVAR), to say nothing of the bullpen (eighth in WXRL). If there’s good news, it’s that Paul Konerko finishes second in the league in homers (39) and fourth in TAv (.326); he may not be back, but at least Ozzie Guillen will be.

7


Blue Jays
85-77
8-2
.555
Up
Going, Going, Gone: Jose Bautista clubs two homers to raise his MLB-leading season total to 54, one of them a grand slam and the other the first opposite-field homer of his career. With seven players homering at least 20 times and nine reaching double digits, the Blue Jays finish with 257 overall, tying them for third all-time, but for all that power, they finish 10th in the league in batting average (.248), 12th in OBP (.312) and sixth in TAv (.264). The season ends with the arms of the Jays’ top young hurlers all intact, and the team paying tribute to the retiring Cito Gaston, the first African American manager to win a World Series, and the pilot of two champions and four division winners.

8


Phillies
97-65
5-4
.552
Up
Any Questions? Thanks to an MLB-best 49-19 (.721) record after July 21, the Phillies cruise to their third straight NL East flag and the majors’ highest win total; they’ll face the Reds in the first round, and have home field advantage in all three rounds should they advance. It’s an impressive bit of work by manager Charlie Manuel, whose best infield combination is intact for just 29 games amid DL stints by all four starters. The key is a rotation which ties for the league lead in SNLVAR behind the Cy Young-caliber work of Roy Halladay, a strong rebound from Cole Hamels, and some late-season excellence (1.74 ERA, .703 SNWP) from Roy Oswalt. While the bullpen isn’t as strong a unit, Brad Lidge closes the year on a 17-for-18 save opportunity run with an 0.73 ERA .

9


Braves
91-71
5-4
.546
Down
Braving It: Tim Hudson grinds through seven innings and drives in the go-ahead run in a decisive four-run rally to help the Braves secure the NL wild card on the last day of the season. The win, just the team’s 14th over its final 30 games, gives retiring skipper Bobby Cox his 15th trip to the postseason, but his first since 2005. Alas, the Braves will be without not only Chipper Jones but also Martin Prado, who suffers a season-ending oblique strain, thus leaving the team without two of its four most potent bats (according to TAv) as it moves on to battle the Giants. Considering that they scored just 3.5 runs per game over that final stretch, you can probably expect a short October run.

10


Athletics
81-81
4-6
.546
Down
Bring Us Some Giambis: Chris Carter homers twice in a four-game sweep of the Mariners, helping the Athletics rebound from a five-game losing streak to reach .500 for the first time since 2006; in doing so, they beat out the Angels for second place in the AL West. After an agonizing 0-for-33 start to his big league career, Carter hits .351/.431/.523 over the season’s final two weeks. The A’s really need more of his power, as they finish the season ranked 13th in the league in homers (109) and 12th in SLG (.378) without a single player hitting more than 16 dingers or slugging higher than .438. It’s not like this is a new story either, not with the team finishing 14th and 12th in those categories last year, 11th and 14th in 2008 and 14th and 11th in 2007. Sure, pitching and defense are nice, but we’ll take some slovenly beer league sluggers too.

11


Reds
91-71
5-4
.542
Up
They Call Him Bruce: After clubbing a walkoff homer to clinch the Reds’ first division title since 1995, Jay Bruce adds three more over the season’s final weekend, giving him 25 for the year to go with a .281/.353/.493 line. The Reds owe their spot in the postseason to their power; they finish the season with the NL lead in homers (188) and slugging percentage (.436), and while some of that relates to their ballpark (the eighth-easiest place to homer this year), they also finish with the majors’ highest TAv at .275. Six Reds hit at least 15 homers (Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips and Jonny Gomes being the others), tied for the NL lead. Votto’s 37 rank third individually; he also caps his MVP-caliber season with the league leads in both SLG (.600) and OBP (.424), and the No. 2 rank in AVG (.324).

12


Giants
92-70
6-3
.537
Up
Stingy Lulus: After losing the first two games of their three-game set with the Padres, the Giants win the NL West on the final day of the season, with Jonathan Sanchez tossing five shutout innings and setting up the game’s first run with a triple; it’s the team’s first playoff berth since 2003. The Giants win the West on the backs of their pitching staff, which allows just 2.1 runs per game over the final 31 games of the season; just twice does it yield more than four runs in that span while going 20-11. Sanchez puts up a 1.08 ERA in seven starts during that span, with Tim Lincecum (1.94) and Madison Bumgarner (1.18) sparkling as well; the latter even steals a postseason start from Barry Zito (4.66, with three starts of less than five innings) as the Giants move on to face the Braves.

13


Tigers
81-81
4-6
.536
Flat
Damon’s Departing Dash? Johnny Damon‘s RBI single in his final at-bat of the season-and perhaps final at-bat as a Tiger-helps Detroit snap a six-game losing streak and close with a .500 record. Damon finishes with a .279 TAv, down from last year’s .293 but not by as much as his triple-slash line would have you believe. Absent from the festivities is Miguel Cabrera, who homers in four of his final five games before a high ankle sprain shelves him for the final six games. He finishes a monster season first in OBP (.420) and RBI (126), second in AVG (.328), SLG (.622), homers (38), runs (111) and TAv (.345)-not too shabby for a guy who needed to get his life in order after last year’s embarrassing finish. It’s a disappointing end for the Tigers after battling for first place in midsummer, but they can look optimistically towards next year as they shed at least $75 million worth of mostly dead-weight contracts.

14


Padres
90-72
5-5
.522
Down
Shut Out: After a 12-22 slide (7-21 versus everyone besides the Dodgers) causes the Padres’ Playoff Odds to plunge from 96.7 percent to 7.8 percent, they win the first two games of their three-game set in San Francisco to set up a finale which could produce not one but two play-in games. Alas, the Pads are shut out both on the scoreboard and in the standings, their surprising 90-win season going for naught. Both offense and defense simply sputter to a halt; they score 2.9 runs per game from September 1 onward, while starters Mat Latos (5.66 ERA), Clayton Richard (4.98) and Jon Garland (4.25, which is an 85 ERA+ in their run environment) run out of gas down the stretch.

15


Cardinals
86-76
8-2
.519
Up
Missed It By That Much: The Cardinals close the year with nine wins in their final 11 games, but they’ll be fishing, hunting or otherwise occupied during the playoffs thanks to a 19-28 record between August 1-the day after they traded Ryan Ludwick-and September 22, a span which saw their Playoff Odds wither from 66.5 percent to 0.05 percent. The Ludwick-free offense hit just .260/.318/.388 during that stretch, and while they somehow still managed to produce 4.6 runs per game, the Jake Westbrook-enabled pitching staff yielded 4.8. The team ends the year with legitimate candidates for MVP (Albert Pujols), Cy Young (Adam Wainwright) and Rookie of the Year (Jaime Garcia), though they probably have as much chance of taking home those awards as they do the NL Central flag.

16


Rockies
83-79
1-9
.517
Down
Beware of Falling Rox: After climbing to within one game of the NL West lead thanks to the heroics of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies lose 13 of their final 14 games to kill the notion of another Rocktober run dead in its tracks. The offense does a disappearing act (.203/.279/.331), the pitching staff is bombed for 5.6 runs per game, and questionable high-leverage choices by Jim Tracy lead to a 1-9 stretch-run record in games decided by two runs or less. Still, CarGo wins the NL batting title (.336) and finishes second in SLG (.598) and third in homers (34), Tulo belts 15 September homers, and Ubaldo Jimenez winds up ranked fifth in SNWP (.612) and third in strikeouts (214).

17


Angels
80-82
5-5
.495
Flat
Fallen Angels: With a 33-38 record, the Angels not only miss the playoffs for the first time in four years, they finish in third place in the AL West and under .500, both for the first time since 2003. There’s plenty of blame to be heaped on an offense that finishes with a .251 TAv (12th in the league) and a .311 OBP (13th); the loss of Kendry Morales, the bust of Brandon Wood (.121 TAv) and the ensuing black hole at third base, and far too much Jeff Mathis (.185 TAv) are good starting points. The bullpen is a dud, but the rotation finishes fourth in the league in SNLVAR behind strong seasons from Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana; they’ll be even stronger with a full season of Dan Haren and a ravine in which to stash the desiccated remains of Scott Kazmir (5.94 ERA, .418 SNWP).

18


Dodgers
80-82
6-3
.478
Up
Blue Day: After causing Joe Torre many a headache this season, Matt Kemp homers in each of the season’s final five games, helping the Dodgers to win four out of five and close the Torre era on a bittersweet note. Still, a 13-20 record over the final five weeks of the season leaves the team with its first losing record since 2005 thanks to a Mannyless offense that hits just .222/.292/.344 while averaging 3.2 runs per game over that stretch. The team heads into the winter in dire need of upgrades to both the lineup and pitching staff, but with the McCourt divorce drama still hanging over its heads, it may have lean years ahead.

19


Marlins
80-82
4-6
.472
Down
Gone Fishin’: Dan Uggla‘s career-high 33rd homer helps the Marlins to a win on the final day of the season, but a 7-13 finish nonetheless dooms them to their first losing season since 2007. Still, the team’s future remains bright thanks to strong rookie showings from Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez, all of whom place in the league’s top dozen in rookie VORP; add full seasons from them to a nucleus that includes Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez and you’ve got a team that should give the other NL East contenders trouble next year.

20


Mets
79-83
5-5
.464
Flat
The Surreal Life: The Mets’ season ends in perfectly ignominious fashion, with Oliver Perez (who hadn’t pitched since September 6) hitting a batter and then walking three straight to force in the go-ahead run in the 14th inning. A 5-10 finish ensures the Mets of a second straight losing season, ultimately sealing the fates of both GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel, but their collective ineptitude only masks problems that go all the way to top via the meddling of Jeff Wilpon. Still-and with all due sympathy to the Mets fans in our midst, who clearly deserve better; the Geneva Convention says so-from the late-season collapses to the Tony Bernazards, the K-Rods, the Madoffs, the Ollies and the medical follies, it’s been schadenfreudelicious digging into this regime week after week after week.

21


Indians
69-93
7-2
.454
Up
On the Rebound: Fausto Carmona shuts down the White Sox to cap a seven-game winning streak which pushes the Indians past last year’s win total (65) and keeps them out of last place in the AL Central. It’s Carmona’s sixth straight quality start; he finishes a solid comeback campaign with a 3.77 ERA and a .515. Despite the sub-.500 record, the Tribe show considerable improvement via a 35-39 record after the break thanks to improved pitching; their 3.89 second-half ERA ranks fifth in the league. The offense needs serious attention from incoming GM Chris Antonetti; aside from Shin-Soo Choo, who homers in Carmona’s win to finishes the year hitting .300/.401/.484 with 22 homers and 22 steals, the team has just two returning regulars who produce at a league-average clip in Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner.

22


Brewers
77-85
6-4
.453
Up
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Mark Rogers tosses five strong innings against the Reds in his second major league start, beginning his much-delayed big league career with 9.1 no-hit innings spread out over four appearances. If only he’d been available earlier in the year, the Brewers might have finished with a rotation above the league’s bottom three, but instead they stumble to 77 wins, their lowest total since 2006, and part ways with manager Ken Macha. The looming question is whether they’ll have to part with Prince Fielder as well. A free agent-to-be after 2011, he finishes the year hitting .261/.401/.471 with 32 homers-one of five Brewers with at least 20-and while he wants to return, the team’s dire need of pitching help may force a trade.

23


Royals
67-95
4-6
.447
Up
Meet Moore’s Jetsam: The Royals help to keep the AL East race interesting, gaining back-to-back wins against the Rays as Zack Greinke whiffs nine and Bruce Chen tosses a two-hit shutout, the first one of his career. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner and the 10-team journeyman both end up with identical 4.17 ERAs, and if that doesn’t illustrate the odd juxtaposition of promising talent and assorted flotsam that was the 2010 Royals, consider that their top two True Averages came via Wilson Betemit (.313) and Billy Butler (.309). The team’s future is no doubt bright thanks to the volume of quality prospects, but so long as Dayton Moore is the GM, you can expect a surreal present full of assorted Ankiels, Podsedniks, Bloomquists, Betancourts, Edsels, Newtons, and Spruce Gooses.

24


Cubs
75-87
6-4
.436
Up
‘Los and Found: Though the three runs he yields are more than he’d allowed in any of his previous 10 starts, Carlos Zambrano caps his return to the rotation with a solid showing against the Astros; he goes 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his final 11 starts to ensure a spot on next year’s team, not that his giant contract and no-trade clause didn’t already do so. After a depressing end to the Lou Piniella era, the Cubs sprint to a 24-13 finish under Mike Quade, putting the interim skipper in the mix to remove the temporary tag. That impressive run happens with little help from the offense (4.2 runs per game on .246/.311/.375 hitting); it’s the pitching staff which yields just 3.8 runs per game thanks to a .273 BABIP (down from .303); who knew that Xavier Nady-Blake DeWitt left side could be so impenetrable?

25


Orioles
66-96
5-5
.433
Up
Look Out, Beasts: Brian Matusz tosses seven shutout innings against the Rays, his fourth straight strong start against a division opponent. His 2.25 ERA in 10 starts since Buck Showalter took the helm exemplifies both the much-improved rotation on the new skipper’s watch and the team’s optimism going into next year; despite posting its 13th straight losing season. The O’s 34-23 record under Showalter ranks second in the AL since he took over on August 3. Even after the foolhardy sign-and-release of deadweight Garret Atkins, not all of the stupidity has left; take Brian Roberts, concussing himself with a bat in frustration; the fragile second baseman needed another injury like he did a whack on the head.

26


Nationals
69-93
4-5
.426
Down
Working Overtime: For the second year in a row, the Nationals go well into extra innings to secure a win on the final day of the season; this one marks their 69th victory, 10 more than in either of the previous two seasons. The Nats’ year will be remembered mainly for Stephen Strasburg, who dazzled in his debut and shone brightly in a dozen starts before needing Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss all of 2011, but the team can at least look forward to more from TJ survivor Jordan Zimmermann, who closes the season with a pair of strong starts against the Braves and Mets, and finishes with an impressive 27/10 K/BB ratio in 31 innings.

27


Mariners
61-101
3-7
.419
Down
Sunk in Seattle: A season that begins with the Mariners being hailed as contenders based on GM Jack Zduriencik’s aggressive offseason acquisitions ends with their second 100-loss season in three years (and seventh straight in which they’ve been outscored), a fired manager, and the Z-Man barely clinging to his job. With new guys Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman flopping-to say nothing of mainstays Jose Lopez and Jack Wilson, or the retiring (in both senses of the word) Ken Griffey Jr.-the M’s pathetic offense scores the fewest runs of any 162-game season since 1971 (513), and the team is forced to deal Cliff Lee at a net loss. At least there’s Felix Hernandez‘s Cy-caliber season (tops with a .646 SNWP and a 2.27 ERA, second with 232 K’s) and Ichiro Suzuki‘s 10th straight 200-hit campaign, right? Right?

28


Diamondbacks
65-97
3-6
.407
Flat
Lower than a Snake’s Belly: The Diamondbacks finish last in the NL West for the second straight season, with their worst record since their 111-loss debacle in 2004. For once they produce a palatable offense; their .260 TAv is their first average-or-better mark since 2002, led by a breakout season from Chris Young and a fine rebound from Kelly Johnson, and in spite of less-than stellar campaigns from Mark Reynolds (.198/.320/.433 with 32 homers and 211 strikeouts!) and Justin Upton (shoulder issues). Less impressive is a rotation which finishes 13th in SNLVAR as Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson depart via trade, though Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy both impress. The real catastrophe is in the bullpen, which finishes with the fourth-worst WXRL (-4-4) and fifth-worst Fair Run Average (6.51) on record, but at least that’s something which incoming GM Kevin Towers knows a little something about.

29


Astros
76-86
3-6
.405
Down
Disastro Averted: After losing their first eight games and going 17-34 while being outscored by 101 runs over the first two months of the season, the Astros go 59-52 the rest of the way; they’re only outscored by 17 runs in the process. They begin the much-needed rebuilding process by trading away mainstays Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, but the late-season success of players like J.A. Happ and Chris Johnson which paints those moves in a favorable light rests on unsustainable results on balls in play (.251 for the pitcher, .391 for the hitter). More sustainable is a rotation built around the good work of Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris, but with an offense last in the NL in TAv and weighed down by the bloated corpse of Carlos Lee, this isn’t the nucleus of a contender.

30


Pirates
57-105
4-6
.316
Up
The Bucs Stop No One: Even with their first month for double-digit wins since May, the Pirates cap off their 18th consecutive losing season with just their second 100-loss club during that span (2001 was the other); it’s enough to cost manager John Russell his job. With the NL’s worst offense (3.65 RPG) and the majors’ worst pitching (5.40 RPG), these Bucs finish with the worst run differential in the majors by nearly 100 runs thanks to an 11-39 record in games decided by five or more runs. Perhaps even more depressingly, they tie the 1963 Mets for the fewest road wins in a 162-game season (17). Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata make promising debuts, 2004 first-rounder Neil Walker finally starts paying off, Andrew McCutchen continues to impress, and James McDonald appears to be a nice little deadline heist. But the rest? Not so much-in fact, not at all. Yeeeeargh.

The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Thursday.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
mbrignall
10/06
I don't really agree with "deal Cliff Lee at a net loss." Justin Smoak really is starting to look like an MLB hitter after a strong September. Both Beavan and Lueke (assuming the Ms will allow a convicted felon onto the roster, which is far from clear) look like solid contributors at some point. Oh, and the trade left the Rangers with a big hole in their infield that they'll have to fill in the off-season. There is no slam dunk major leaguer in the group the Mariners traded for Lee, and exactly as many convicts. There's no sugar coating the blues year we had up here, but this deal wouldn't be in the conversation.
jjaffe
10/06
The two Lee deals may indeed be closer in terms of talent than I've given credit for here. But for Smoak as well as any other player (including some I've cited above), it's worth remembering that September stats can be distorted by the more variable levels of competition created by expanded rosters - particularly when they pertain to teams which are out of the running. Proceed with caution.
sam19041
10/06
"Meet Moore's Jetsam"... Well played. That was a hoot.
momansf
10/06
I know the NL is worse than the AL, but common, 7 AL teams before the Phillies? I know that this is a well-thought out formula derived from many things, but the league difference seems a bit drastic that it raises questions for me.
jjaffe
10/06
I just addresed this over at the Day 1 Roundtable: Jay Jaffe (1:29:42 PM PT): adamseth7 (Philly): Do you guys really buy the Hit List that the best seven teams in baseball are all in the Al. The White Sox? The A's? Really. Perhaps too high of a league adjustment? Admittedly, the league adjustment (+.025 for the AL, -.021 for the NL, IIRC) is an imprecise tool, but when I studied the matter last winter based upon 2006-2008 interleague data (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9481) the surprising thing was that even the top 20 percent of NL teams won significantly less than 50% of their games against AL teams. So I don't think the way I've chosen to handle it is out of line. I'd be interested to hear what Colin has to say about it, though. Colin responded: Colin Wyers (1:29:56 PM PT): For those wondering if I've left the reservation in saying the Yankees and Rays are better ballclubs than the Phillies - this year the AL beat the NL at a .532 clip. And that's the worst interleague showing for the AL since '01! When you compare records and stats between clubs from the two leagues, it is seriously as if the NL gets to play all their games at home and the AL has to play all their games on the road. That's seriously the magnitude of that difference. It's a lot tougher to win ballgames in the junior circuit. I'm pretty sure he meant AL at home, NL on the road...
jballen4eva
10/07
Would it be possible to have division adjustments as opposed to league adjustments? The AL East continues to dominate all other divisions, but is the NL East really that much worse than the AL Central? Happy to revise my opinion if someone can provide a breakdown of which AL teams kick NL ass. If it's all of them, so be it.
mbodell
10/06
I'd definitely put all 7 ahead of the Phillies. The AL is just that strong. The AL East is a beast with 4 teams in the top 7. It really is a whole other kind of league.
therndon
10/06
I have a hard time believing the Phillies are worse than 7 AL teams, but I do have great respect for your formulas. It's not like they've been struggling though, 48-19 since July 21st. I know it's a long way off but I'm a long suffering Orioles fan - what are their chances of finishing above .500 in 2011?
jjaffe
10/06
In that AL East it's going to be extremely tough, unless they really surprise us in the offseason. Matusz looks ready to become a strong rotation asset, Guthrie and Bergesen seem to have recovered their forms, and Arrieta should be passable, but that still leaves another hole to fill, and they absolutely have to get more out of their corner infielders than they got this year.
akw4572
10/06
What is this? BPESPN? Sox aren't near that good.....
fredlummis
10/06
According to you, the Astros are worse than the Royals, Indians, Orioles, and Mariners. I know BP detests Ed Wade, but give the team on the field some credit. They might not be a "contender", but they were not the second worst team in baseball this year, especially in the 2nd half. Does pitching mean nothing in your formula?
mhmosher
10/07
This is insane. Philly looks like the best team in MLB by far. Seven teams ahead of them? You can maybe make a case for Tampa, but seven? That's absurd. Let's look at this thread again in three weeks and, Jay, please be ready to defend it. The AL superiority thing is hogwash now as well. This is 2010.
mhmosher
10/07
Oakland ahead of Cincy and San Fran....I love it. You intentionally stirred the pot on this one Jay.
juiced
10/07
No way is the AL that much better than the NL such that the Chisox , BJays, and A's are the 6th, 7th, and 10th best teams in baseball. All 4 NL playoff teams, Reds excepted, are better than they are, and frankly so are the Cards and Rockies. Your methodolgy is deeply flawed and produces results that do not pass the smell test. Within leagues it's ok, combining them it's not. Sorry, but it's not up to Bp standards, which thankfully are high
dbiester
10/08
According to BPs pwn stats, The Phils hit better than Toronto They field better than Tororto They pitch better than Toronto They run the bases better than Toronto But they aren't as good a team as Toronto Must be the intangibles.
jjaffe
10/08
The Phils did most of that against NL competition. The Jays did most of theirs against AL competition, which the evidence strongly suggests is the stronger of the two leagues. A cross-comparison for these purposes is inappropriate, which is why I generally take pains to compare players and teams within league rankings rather than MLB rankings.
Richie
10/07
Thanks again for another year of the 'Hit List'!
jjaffe
10/07
You're very welcome. It's a beast to wrangle with week after week, but I wouldn't keep it up after six seasons if I didn't feel as though it had the support of our readers.
Richie
10/07
And all you saying "the NL's no longer that inferior grumblegrumble", how about some (nonanecdotal, please) evidence for that assertion? Hmmm???
juiced
10/07
Padres are better than those three too
Duranimal
10/07
The Phils at 8 is just silly.
mhmosher
10/07
Like I said, I'm convinced this was just done to stir the pot. It's so asinine it's funny.
jjaffe
10/07
Read the article about how consistently even the top NL teams have played sub-.500 ball against AL teams in recent years. Or if you're too lazy to do that, simply read this: One revealing aspect about the AL's advantage over the NL is that even the lousier Junior Circuit teams are beating the Senior Circuit ones consistently. Sticking with the last five years of data (including this unfinished [for intra- but not interleague purposes] season) and splitting each league into upper and lower halves in terms of interleague records—the 35 best (or worst) team-seasons in each half in the AL, 40 in the NL—we find that AL's better half, which won at a .561 clip in those intraleague games, boosted their winning percentage to .610 in interleague games. The lower half, which produced a measly .438 winning percentage in intraleague, kicked NL tail at a .523 clip. The NL's better half posted a .551 winning percentage in intraleague play but just a .447 mark in interleague play, while the lower half dipped from .450 to .421. This tendency persists if we break the teams into smaller groups... Every NL grouping, from the best 20 percent to the worst, won significantly less than 50 percent of its games against the AL. The top three AL groupings dominated interleague play... etc. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9481 Oh, and by the way, the supposedly invincible Philles are 20-31 over the past three years in interleague play, and that's with three straight division titles, two pennants (and counting) and the league's best record under their belts.
mhmosher
10/07
Yet another arrogant prick at Prospectus. Thanks for showing your true colors Jay.
jjaffe
10/07
You're the one who won't provide any evidence beyond your gut feelings, but I'm the arrogant prick because I've defended myself by hand-delivering as succinct a summary of my research findings as I can? Just checking.
jballen4eva
10/07
You shouldn't have gone there with calling the Phillies out, man!!! Seriously, any difference between interleague play with a DH and without? I would imagine that AL teams would perform better at home, as they can afford to carry a ninth full-time hitter.
jjaffe
10/07
I don't have this year's split handy, but from 2006 through 2009, the AL went 269-234 in NL parks (.534) and 308-196 in AL parks (.611). The average home team won at a .548 clip during that four-year span, so NL teams underperformed by 82 points of winning percentage at home, and 63 points on the road.
jballen4eva
10/07
So it appears that having another plus hitter on the roster doesn't necessarily help AL teams, unless those extra hitters are good enough fielders that they could replace a worse hitter when playing without a DH. So much for my thinking that NL teams with deep benches should perform better in interleague play than comparable teams with less hitting depth. Thanks for answering.
mhmosher
10/07
I accept that it's a formula that comes to this conclusion and not arbitrary opinion. I just experience significant cognitive dissonance when I realize I am paying for a site that is telling me the Blue Jays and White Sox are better than the Phillies. That's my only point.
rcrary
10/07
is the league adjustment based entirely on interleague play? I admit I think people lean a little too heavily on it as evidence of the AL's superiority, though I also admit I can't think of a statistical way of countering it...
jjaffe
10/07
This one is, simply because I don't have any other applicable means of doing it the way, say, Clay builds league difficulty indices into WARP. You can argue that the adjustment is too large by a small handful of points depending upon how many years of data we base that adjustment on, and how they're weighted (not dissimilar from park factor debates) but you can't credibly argue that it's inappropriate to adjust.
rcrary
10/08
Actually, I think you can. But only because it calls into question the value (or purpose) of the combined list. Here's what I mean; maybe I'm overthinking it. You quote Colin as saying this (I've made the home/road correction): "When you compare records and stats between clubs from the two leagues, it is seriously as if the AL gets to play all their games at home and the NL has to play all their games on the road. That's seriously the magnitude of that difference. It's a lot tougher to win ballgames in the junior circuit." But it's not a lot tougher for an AL team to win games in the AL than it is for an NL team to win games in the NL. They are different evironments. NL teams are built to win in the NL first. That they don't play well in interleague play doesn't really tell us much (and the World Series still ends up being fairly random). Sure, if you dropped an NL team into the AL immediately, I'm sure they'd have trouble winning consistently that first season or so (would the Pirates lose 120 games? would the Phillies only win 85? dunno). But pretty soon they'd be have to be responding to that competitive environment, wouldn't they? They'd be an AL team. Interleague play is awful for a variety of reasons, not least is the havoc it plays with the schedule. Teams play different numbers of them, teams play different opposite-league teams, teams play different qualities of opposite-league teams, etc... It makes no sense for the Phillies, for example, to play Boston six times in a season, when they only play San Francisco six times. In any event, the NL teams are not set up to maximize their wins in the 15-18 games they have to play against seemingly random AL teams every year. So comparing their relative strength seems kind of pointless. I know a lot of people complained about the new split format for the hit list for the regular season, but I thought it made more sense.
mhmosher
10/07
If this is what "Hit List" is going to become, why don't you guys do away with it next year.
thenamestsam
10/07
Dear god, please stop complaining and do some reading. It will take you less than five minutes to find the formula used to calculate the hit list rankings. Let me repeat an important part of that last statement. THEY"RE CALCULATED USING A FORMULA. Here is a valid criticism: I think that the formula has too large a league adjustment. Here is an invalid criticism: This was just done to stir the pot. (Note: Formulas do not have emotions)
jjaffe
10/07
THIS. Thank you.
mhmosher
10/07
Then the formula is garbage.
hessshaun
10/07
I echo the disagreements here, but at least there is a logic behind the madness. Maybe and adjusted weight scale per division record might make more sense. Couple that with the uneven figurative "baseball rivalries" and some teams definitely have tougher draws. Obviously any teams that have to play the better AL teams every year should get some points knocked off or added if you will. And I may be reading this wrong, but it just not make sense to me for the top NL teams to be punished for having the Pirates, Nationals, D Backs, and Cubs.
oneofthem
10/07
lol a mests fan unable to understand math.
oneofthem
10/07
natl league pride! please try to actually field competent teams before spouting league-ist rhetoric
therndon
10/07
I really appreciate the hit list and accept the rationale. I do think the Phillies are better than #8 overall but I'm too tired and lazy to look for proof - and your info supports the ranking. 20-31 over the last 3 years in interleague play is pretty weak. Maybe the Orioles should lobby to move to the NL! And speaking of the Orioles, how many teams have ever played .300 ball (32-73 or .304) for 2/3 of a season and then finished the final 1/3 at a .600 clip? (.596 actually, 34-23 W-L). Obviously, I'm starving for something positive for the O's.
dbiester
10/08
well, just looking at some BP team stats, in a pretty cursory way, does not seem to support the rankings. Either the hit list is overcompensating for league difference, or the team stats are under compensating. It may be that all I am showing is that the league difference is so great that you can't build up from underlying stats. The table just shows where the teams fall in the specific stat among the 30 MLB teams, so the Yanks are second overall in MLVr, second in Defense, etc. I included two team pitching stats for no scientific reason whatsoever. I also admit freely that I may be missing something huge with respect to the team stats, and welcome commentary. (Yes it would be helpful if I had copied in the actual stats instead of the raw rankings, but since I wanted to compare it to the ranking on the Hit List I thought it at least interesting to do it this way.) Team VORP FRA MLVr DE EQBRR Yankees 13 13 2 2 5 Red Sox 17 21 3 20 25 Blue Jays 21 20 11 20 19 Phils 5 3 9 9 11 Again, IF it is at all fair to compare these stats across leagues, they do not appear to support the Hit List in putting the Phils behind the Jay, and probably not behind the Red Sox either.
jjaffe
10/08
As noted above, I'm going to argue that for the most part comparing stats across leagues like that ISN'T the best way to go about it; you'll notice I generally hold to league ranks when making quantitative comparisons. Would you compare AL and NL strikeout rates given that the pitcher bats in only one of those leagues (interleague games excluded)? Fair Run Average isn't park or league adjusted, so let's start by remembering that the NL had a lower scoring environment (4.33 to 4.35). On the defensive front, the AL had a lower BABIP (.295 to .299). The spread of baserunning comes out to about 2-3 wins a year from top to bottom; relative rank tells us nothing when teams are so closely bunched. On a team level, additive VORP doesn't work for anything at all, because of the way it mashes together the various bins of player performance (a two-position infielder or outfielder will be credited at one or the other but not both in proportion, and they may be far apart, like LF/CF) - please don't use it; we shouldn't even be supplying it. Likewise, I'm suspicious of "team" MLVr because the rate stat was designed to tell you what the addition of a single player would do to the team scoring rate given an otherwise league-average lineup.
dbiester
10/08
Yep, I did have a big "IF". there are plenty of variables that make cross-league comparisons hard, which is why we get to argue about it and enjoy it. the most important obviously being they play by different rules. But there's also that the NL has more teams, and that the interleague schedules are imbalanced. there ought to be some stats to isolate talent among individual players that could be aggregated to a team to allow a cross-league comparison, though. from a forest not trees point of view, it's hard to believe that the Phillies players aggregate to less talent than the Jays players. On the stats I used, I only used Team VORP for pitchers, not down the line, so you don't have any positional overlap issues. You just have the VORP for pitchers issues.
dbiester
10/08
I suppose someone could aggregate SIERA and TAvr, but that someone is not going to be me. Have a good weekend, enjoy the games everyone.
jjaffe
10/08
What strikes me as nuts is that people are treating something like the .003 difference between the Jays and Phillies as though it's engraved in stone tablets. There's a margin for error in any measurement, and if you wanted to argue that instead of +25 for the AL and -22 for the NL it should be +23 and -20 because I should be weighting the past three years 4-3-2 instead of 5-4-3 or 3-2-1 or something, and therefore the Phillies should wind up at .553 and the Jays at .552, I can understand that. The underlying point is that there's a clear separation between the top five AL teams and the next eight AL + NL teams. The Phillies, no matter what league adjustment I make, ain't gonna wind up in that top five based upon the available evidence. They MIGHT pass the Jays and the White Sox had I done this a bit differently. As it is, they're the top-ranked NL team on the year-end Hit List. Live with it.
dbiester
10/11
Sure, Hit List compiling performance over the course of the season, easy to see the Phils not in the same category as the Red Sox, Ray, Yanks, Twins. Phils right now,with three strong starting pitchers, starting infielders back, Utley getting close calls, all set for the play offs. Happy to live with it. I can understand the frustration and certainly get why the Hit List was split NL/AL Enjoy the short series freakiness