Pythagorean Standings

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I didn’t realize that it’s been a week since my last post. In that time the Mets have gone 4-1 with 2 rainouts. That puts them in second place, a half game behind Atlanta. It’s interesting to see how good a start the Braves are getting off to this year. In the spring I thought they would be better than last year but not a powerhouse.

I also thought, along with all the pundits, that Philadelphia would be doing better. They’re a good team with a scary offense. You have to believe that they will eventually get their act together. You have to hope to put as much distance between you and them because once they heat up they’ll be a threat. And they will heat up. That’s for sure.

Looking at these teams had me thinking about how they would fair in Pythagorean terms. I’ve written before about Pythagorean Method, the Bill James creation that tries to predict winning percentage based on runs scored and allowed. I find it to be a nice tool to identify teams that are underachieving and those that are overachieving. So let’s see how these teams are doing. Here are the NL East standings as of this morning:

Team W L Pct. GB
Atlanta 10 4 .714 -
Mets 9 4 .692 0.5
Florida 6 8 .429 4
Washington 5 10 .333 5.5
Philadelphia 3 10 .231 6.5

Now let’s look at the standings in Pythagorean terms:

Team Runs
Scored
Runs
Allowed
Pyth.
Pct
Mets 76 35 .825
Atlanta 68 60 .562
Florida 70 71 .493
Philadelphia 58 77 .362
Washington 45 77 .255

This shows us that the Mets have been playing the best all around baseball in the division. They lead it in runs scored and have allowed the fewest as well. Atlanta, while in first place in the division, is nearly 300 percentage points behind them and have scored only 8 runs more than their opponents. They are clearly overachieving in terms of wins and losses when you look at these numbers.

Even more interesting is what we learn about the Phillies when all 30 teams are taken into account. The Phillies have the worst record in baseball and are 27th in Pythagorean percentage. By comparison the Mets have the second best record in baseball and are first in Pythagorean percentage. and the Braves have the best record and rank 8th in Pythagorean percentage. Pythagorean Method tells us that the Phillies should be winning more when you consider their run production and prevention but only slightly more.

Anyway, at this point in the season the team is playing well and has good position in the standings. If they keep playing this well they will be a lot of fun to watch and should be playing ‘meaningful games’ in September.

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Some random number I picked up this morning.

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