Wednesday, March 28, 2007

AL Central 2006 Run Distributions

2006 was a pretty strange year in the AL Central. Cleveland had good hitting and solid pitching yet still managed to finish below 500 at 78-84. Detroit was the most consistent team all year but lost the division on the last day of the season after being swept by the Royals. Minnesota had the privilege of being outscored by more than two runs per game and April then turning around and doing the same to their opponents in June.

Below is where the teams stood according to their win distributions. RS eW is each teams expected amount of wins if you combined their daily offensive output and matched it with league average pitching (example: teams that score six runs win about 60% of the time - if a team scored six runs 20 times, that would give them 12 expected wins).

RA eW is the exact same thing done with runs allowed.

TeamRS eWRA eW

As you can see, the Sox had the best offense and the fourth best pitching in the league which was good enough for 90 wins. Yet the Indians had the second best offense and third best pitching and finished with only 78 wins.

From May to July Cleveland outscored their opponents 409-398 while posting a record of 32-47! If I were an Indians fan I would sit here and try to figure out what happened. But since I'm not, I'll just give a Nelson Muntz laugh and move on.

According to the run distributions, Detroit was better than Minnesota in both offense and pitching. But the the distributions don't quite tell the whole story. If you could somehow combine your low scoring games with your bad pitching games you could in essence "save your runs" for times when they are most needed. Now, you can't do this intentionally, but this is in fact how the Twins season played out.

As you can see, April was the Twins worst hitting and worst pitching month. They scored 4.04 runs per game but gave up 6.17. If you took a half a run out of August and added it to their offensinve output in April, they probably still would have gone 6-15. Yet that half a run probably won them four games in August.

Now there were very good reasons the Twins got better after April. Their pitching shook off an early season slump, Liriano replaced Silva in the rotation, and Castro and Bautista were dropped for better offensive players (actually the replacements were better defenders too).

So while Detroit finished with better overall numbers, I don't think they were the better team at the end of the year.

I thought it was interesting to see that the Royals offense wasn't all that bad last year. They finished just a bit below average on offense, but the staff only pitched well enough to win 67 games. It makes overpaying for Gil Meche a bit more understandable.

As for the Sox, it is time to close the book on 2006. Lets just hope the monthly trends shown below don't extend into 2007.