Sizing Up the Competition

With just under three weeks left in the regular season, the field is almost done filling out, with just five teams holding real hopes of reaching the post season: Boston, New York, Detroit, Minnesota, and Los Angeles.

Anaheim is up 6 in the West, Detroit is up 4 on Minnesota in the Central, the Red Sox are up 6 ½ in the Wild Card and the Yanks are about to clinch the East, up 6.5 games.

So, how do these teams stack up?

With just under three weeks left in the regular season, the field is almost done filling out, with just five teams holding real hopes of reaching the post season: Boston, New York, Detroit, Minnesota, and Los Angeles.
Anaheim is up 6 in the West, Detroit is up 4 on Minnesota in the Central, the Red Sox are up 6 ½ in the Wild Card and the Yanks are about to clinch the East, up 6.5 games.
So, how do these teams stack up?
OPS
1) NYY: .843 (.284/.363/.480) 1st in AL
2) BOS: .805 (.268/.350/.455) 2nd in AL
3) LAA: .794 (.286/.351/.443) 3rd in AL
4) MIN: .765 (.271/.341/.425) 6th in AL
5) DET: .748 (.259/.329/.419) 10th in AL
The fact that the top three teams in the AL in OPS are all playoff contenders is not surprising. Intuitively, the good teams should have the best stats. What is surprising, however, is that Detroit ranks so low, at 10th of 14 American League teams. Is that a playoff offense? Maybe Tampa Bay, Texas, Toronto, Cleveland, and Baltimore all deserve the playoffs more than Detroit.
Runs Per Game
1) NYY: 5.73 R/gm (1st in AL)
2) LAA: 5.50 R/gm (2nd in AL)
3) BOS: 5.32 R/gm (3rd in AL)
4) MIN: 4.86 R/gm (6th in AL)
5) DET: 4.61 R/gm (10th in AL)
…because it’s the bottom line, isn’t it? Again, Detroit ranks very poorly, while New York, L.A., and Boston all lead the league. That AL Central is looking particularly weak again, as it’s best team (Cleveland) is out of the playoff race and would rank fourth in the AL East, just above the Blue Jays. Only Oakland, Chicago, Kansas City, and Seattle rank worse than the Tigers.
Team ERA
1) BOS: 4.22 ERA (3nd in AL)
2) DET: 4.28 ERA (4th in AL)
3) NYY: 4.37 ERA (7th in AL)
4) MIN: 4.57 ERA (10th in AL)
5) LAA: 4.51 ERA (11th in AL)
Now, Detroit is starting to make a little more sense. The Sox are looking a lot better, as well, with a top offense and a top pitching staff. Not a bad combination. That Scott Kazmir acquisition should really come in handy for Los Angeles down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Team Defensive Efficiency
1) NYY: .699 (3rd in AL)
2) DET: .696 (5th in AL)
3) MIN: .691 (6th in AL)
4) LAA: .688 (7th in AL)
5) BOS: .678 (13th in AL)
This one’s a bit unsettling, though it’s been apparent all season that the Sox have some significant defensive holes. However, this may speak to the team’s talent on their pitching staff more than anything: even with the second worst defense in the league, the team can still put up the 3rd best ERA. Those squeaker hits that went through the LAA infield all Wednesday night are usually going against the Sox. When you throw your remote at the TV when that happens in Game 4 of the ALDS, you’ll remember why.
Overall, the Sox stack up very well in the post season. Their likely first round competitors, the Angels, also look good, though the edge goes to the Sox. The Yanks look a step ahead of the rest, however, especially when considering their lineup depth. If this were the NCAA Tournament, the Sox would be a #2 seed, the Yanks #1, LAA #3, and whatever trash comes out of the Central would be a #5… oops, #4.
Yeah, #1 would be nice, but #2 ain’t shabby at all.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Detroit Tigers Los Angeles Angels Minnesota Twins New York Yankees Quick Post

4 Responses to “Sizing Up the Competition” Subscribe

  1. Evan September 17, 2009 at 7:05 PM #

    The team defensive efficiency bit. We're much better post A-Gon than we were before it. Would love to see Aug-Sept #s.

  2. bottomlinesox September 17, 2009 at 9:20 PM #

    Evan's right… Lugo and Green really did some damage to those defensive stats early on.
    Bay might be suspect in left – especially away from Fenway, but the rest of the starters are all gold glove cailber or close to it – save for V-Mart and Tek at catcher.
    Bottom Line: I don't feel that defense is as important as pitching in the postseason and was not surprised to see the Sox in the lead there… Beckett, Lester, Buchholz and possibly Dice-K make the best foursome of all the playoff contenders. Add that to the best bullpen in the bunch and you have a World Series caliber team.
    Now… if the offense can just stay hot…

  3. Gerry September 18, 2009 at 10:36 PM #

    I think the basic defensive stats of E's & FPCT give a different view of Sox defense. In the American League, the Sox are tied for 4th with the Yankees in terms of fewest errors @ 78. The top 3 are Twins @66, Jays @ 71, Angels @75. The other 14 teams range from 83 to 107. The Red Sox SS position accounts for nearly 1/3 of those E's. Eliminate just 10 of those SS E's, and we would rank #2 @ 68, behind only the Twins. A.Gon seems to have resolved that problem, so 2nd half stats should give a better story.
    Also, a hurting Lowell made 9, and got better as the year went on. Pedroia has 6. No one else has more than 3. The new & improved Sox seem considerably better than some indicators show.
    In terms of FPCT, the Twins are best with .988, Jays .987, Angels & Yankees tie with .986, Sox, Tigers & O's tie with .985, Indians & A's have .984, Rays & Rangers @.983, M's @ .982, and KC & CWS bring up the rear with .981. Not much spread there, and the Sox are burdened with too many E;s at SS. Again, the Sox are better than their #5 indicates; and second half #'s would have us closer to #1.
    However, the Sox are worst in SBA @135 and CS (21) vs. the Jays 43. Despite the unwieldy #of pitchers this year, the Sox would benefit from some specialized training here as a pitching staff. Teams like the M's, Tigers & Jays are uniformly good here, and the Sox are uniformly bad. Maybe a specialty coach???
    Only Bay and Kotchman are error free with a 1.000 fpct.

  4. Meghan Leary aka Mik September 19, 2009 at 6:11 PM #

    "The fact that the top three teams in the AL in OPS are all playoff contenders is not surprising. Intuitively, the good teams should have the best stats. What is surprising, however, is that Detroit ranks so low, at 10th of 14 American League teams. Is that a playoff offense?"
    No, that's AL Central offense.