I enjoy using the BaseRuns formula as a sanity check for team performance to date. There are big flaws in simply taking a team’s actual runs scored and allowed and applying the Pythagorean formula to come up with expected wins. It assumes that the actual run totals are sacrosanct when they are anything but. Especially so early in the year when factors such as competition faced and home/away splits are more likely to be dramatic.
I ran through each team coming into play today and noted the difference in what BaseRuns said the team should have scored and allowed and their actual results so far. There is little surprise at the bottom of the table; Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston and Pittsburgh have all legitimately played atrociously. Pittsburgh has actually been more than doubled up on runs allowed versus runs scored and if they kept playing at this level, BaseRuns says they would be a 39-win team.
The top of the table also is not shocking, but it does affirm some early season surprises. The Yanks are on top, but second place belongs to those stingy Giants, leading the league in run prevention. The Cardinals, Rockies and Twins follow suit, even though the Twins have gotten lucky so far on their own solid run prevention numbers.
Among teams that BaseRuns decrees are ten or more games off their straight pythag win-loss record are the Rays, currently 13 wins lucky but still a legit top ten team. The Blue Jays are ten games unlucky on their projected pace and the White Sox are 14 games on the same side of the ledger.
By far the biggest outlier is the New York Mets. They have scored 86 and allowed 69 for a pythag pace of 95 wins. According to BaseRuns they should have scored 82, but allowed 88 for a BaseRuns pace of just 76 wins. That is a mammoth 19-win spread and a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about jumping on the Mets bandwagon for 2010. That’s not to say it cannot be done, but they need to up their level of play dramatically.
Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.