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Friday, November 23, 2001

Baseball Primer’s 2001 American League Cy Young Award

Our picks.

Unlike the NL award voting, the Baseball Primer staff vote for the AL CY Young
  Award reflected how difficult it was to settle on one candidate this year. Eleven
  voters cast first-place ballots for five different pitchers, and no pitcher
  was named on all 11 ballots.












Pitcher


Pts


1st


Ballots


Garcia,
      F


30


4


8


Mussina,
      M


19


1


7


Clemens,
      R


18


3


4


Mays,
      J


17


2


5


Mulder,
      M


8


1


4


Hudson,
      T


5


0


3


Buehrle,
      M


1


0


1


Moyer,
      J


1


0


1

The BBWAA vote was, of course, not this close. Roger Clemens?s 20-1 start to
the season guaranteed a solid victory for him in that tally.










Pitcher


1st


2nd


3rd


Total


R. Clemens


21


5


2


122


M. Mulder


2


13


11


60


F. Garcia


4


8


11


55


J. Moyer


1


2


1


12


M. Mussina




2


2


T. Hudson




1


1

And of course, that W/L record, coupled with Clemens?s ninth-place finish in
  ERA, his eleventh-place ranking in BP?s Support-Neutral Won-Lost record, and
  the traditional stathead “W/L record doesn?t mean anything” feeling, had created
  the expected backlash against the BBWAA vote.

The arguments raised against Clemens are certainly legitimate. He was the
beneficiary of run support in posting the 20-3 record, and had he been supported
at the level of his teammate Mike Mussina he would likely not have had that W/L
record. But I think that the stathead argument overlooks two other important
aspects of Clemens?s performance ? beyond the W/L record - that support his
candidacy.

The more important of the two factors is defense. Of the top nine pitchers in
ERA (the eight pitchers listed above plus Barry Zito), Clemens (and Mussina)
played on the team with the worst defense. I looked at this in two ways ? by
calculating Bill James?s Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER) and by calculating
Voros McCracken?s $H factor (percentage of hits per fair ball in play) from his
Defense Independent Pitching Method (DIPS).









Team


DER


$H


Seattle


0.726


0.260


Oakland


0.697


0.282


Chicago


0.697


0.285


Minnesota


0.696


0.287


New York


0.682


0.300

Seattle?s DER is the highest that I remember seeing ? this in an era where
DERs have been dropping steadily. Oakland, Chicago, and Minnesota are all above
the norms for the AL (DER 0.688, $H 0.294). The Yankees were the only team below
average.

We can estimate the impact of defense on these pitchers by applying DIPS to
  the top nine pitchers in ERA. I did that, using my own calculated park factors
  for 2001 (which can be found href="http://www.geocities.com/mwemeigh">here, by clicking on the 2001 Park
  Data link ? these are batter park factors, with the pitcher park factors used
  in DIPS being 1/BPF).













Player


TEAM


DERA


Mussina, M


NYA


2.75


Clemens, R


NYA


3.12


Mulder, M


OAK


3.51


Hudson, T


OAK


3.73


Zito, B


OAK


3.74


Garcia, F


SEA


3.79


Buehrle, M


CHA


3.89


Moyer, J


SEA


4.59


Mays, J


MIN


4.81

While I believe that DIPS likely overstates the effect, I am absolutely
convinced that the difference between Garcia?s 3.05 ERA and Clemens?s 3.51 ERA
is due almost entirely to Garcia?s defensive support and the pitching-friendly
nature of his ballpark (even in comparison to Yankee Stadium).

The second aspect of Clemens?s performance that strengthens his candidacy has
to do with when he gave up his runs. The assumption in context-neutral game
methods is that a pitcher who gives up three runs in seven innings would do that
whether he?s supported by no runs, or three runs, or six runs, or nine runs over
that time frame. This assumption is not necessarily warranted. Teams tend to
change the way that they defend when they have a lead ?they will often trade
runs for outs. Pitchers tend to make changes to the way that they approach
hitters when they have a lead ? the focus is more on throwing strikes and making
the batter put the ball into play. If a pitcher is allowing a fair percentage of
his runs when his team has a good-sized lead, he is ? in the context of the
games that he is pitching ? costing his team less than if he is allowing those
runs with the game close, or with his team trailing.

I looked at five of the top nine pitchers in ERA: Clemens, Garcia, Mussina,
Mays, and Buehrle. Due to the publication deadline, I didn?t have time to look
at the other four pitchers (the Oakland trio and Moyer), but I will post the
results for those four pitchers as a comment to this article. I looked at how
they pitched in three situations:

  • Pitcher?s team trailing by 2 or more runs

  • Pitcher?s team leading by 2 or more runs

  • Even game (tied or within one run)

The game situation was figured at the start of the inning, and all of the
results in that inning were credited to that situation; e.g. if Team A was ahead
2-0 at the start of the inning and the pitcher allowed 3 runs, that became 1 IP
and 3 runs allowed in the “leading by 2 or more” category.



























Buehrle, M


IP


H


R


ER


BB


K


ERA


behind 2+


17.2


8


5


5


2


11


2.55


even


118.2


117


51


50


33


84


3.79


ahead 2+


85.0


63


33


26


13


33


2.75










Clemens, R


IP


H


R


ER


BB


K


ERA


behind 2+


21.2


17


6


5


5


25


2.08


even


118.2


99


43


39


45


120


2.96


ahead 2+


80.0


89


45


42


22


68


4.73










Mussina, M


IP


H


R


ER


BB


K


ERA


behind 2+


24.0


17


11


10


5


23


3.75


even


150.2


141


54


50


27


141


2.99


ahead 2+


54.0


44


22


20


10


50


3.33










Garcia, F


IP


H


R


ER


BB


K


ERA


behind 2+


25.0


19


7


7


3


25


2.52


even


138.0


119


53


49


43


97


3.2


ahead 2+


75.2


61


28


25


23


41


2.97










Mays, J


IP


H


R


ER


BB


K


ERA


behind 2+


37.0


29


11


11


8


24


2.68


even


119.2


114


55


52


42


64


3.91


ahead 2+


77.0


62


21


19


14


35


2.22

Clemens was the best of these five pitchers both when his team was behind and
when his team was in a close game ? in the game situations where it was most
important to prevent runs from scoring. Mussina and Garcia weren?t all that far
behind him; Buehrle and Mays are further down the list.

These two factors ? defense and pitching within game context ? to me lift
Clemens and Mussina out of the pack. I voted for Clemens in the Primer poll
largely for these two reasons, but after doing the more detailed comparisons I?d
have voted for Mussina? he had more innings in key situations than did Clemens
and didn?t pitch significantly worse than Clemens in those situations, so he was
likely more valuable overall.

I know I haven?t addressed quality of competition. The two worst teams in the
AL were in the East, and with the unbalanced schedule Clemens and Mussina got
more opportunities against Baltimore and Tampa than did their competition. The
AL West teams also faced stronger interleague competition from the NL West.
Theoretically, then, the Yankees could be knocked down a peg or two because they
played weaker teams more frequently. The counter-argument to be made is that
early in the season Seattle was the only team playing well in the West, while
both Boston and Toronto looked like they?d be giving New York a good run, thus
it?s only in hindsight that the Western teams appear to be tougher competition.
That?s another article; this one is already long enough. I tend to downplay the
argument, but I?m willing to be convinced otherwise.

 

Mike Emeigh Posted: November 23, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604289)
Clemens's pitching when the Yankees were behind by 2 or more runs indicates that he was doing a good job in *preventing* the game from getting away from the Yankees. The number of innings is so small, though, that I don't consider it significant.

I think when you look at *all* of the evidence, rather than stopping at just ERA and run support (and quality of opposition, as defined ex post facto), Clemens and Mussina were the two best pitchers in the American League in 2001. My opinion is that, had Freddy Garcia been on the Yankee staff with the Yankee defense behind him, instead of in Seattle, he'd have been very fortunate to post an ERA under 4.00.

-- MWE
   2. Alan Shank Posted: November 24, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604290)
I agree about the relative strengths of the defenses, and here is some more data, possibly better data than you gave, to support this. I take each team's opponent's offensive stats (the batter vs. pitcher data from STATS, Inc.) and put it in a spreadsheet that calculates Jim Furtado's Extrapolated Runs (xRuns). Then I break it out into two separate rows, one for "pitcher-only" events and the other for events where the fielders come into play. For each row, then, I calculate the xRuns/out. I did this for the Yankees, A's and Mariners, and for the American League. Here is some data:

Overall pitch pitch/field
xR/out rel AL xR/out rel AL xR/out rel AL
AL .183 N/A .337 N/A .135 N/A
SEA .144 .787 .287 .853 .099 .754
OAK .157 .851 .256 .750 .123 .910
NYA .164 .894 .217 .645 .142 1.051

Fielding isn't just about what percentage of batted balls get turned into outs as opposed to hits; it's also preventing extra-base hits. This data shows that, when the ball was put in play (and not a homer), Seattle's defense (the combination of pitching and fielding) was fully 25% better than the average team, whereas the Yankees' was a tad worse. Of course, we don't know to what extent this combined figure is affected by the pitcher, as opposed to the fielders, but since the Yankee pitchers were the best of the three in pitcher-only events, it's reasonable to conclude that Seattle's fielding was considerably better than New York's.

I also took the batter vs. pitcher data for six of the candidates, the ones from the three above teams, and did the same thing. For a pitcher, this kind of data shows how dependent he was on his fielders. The higher the proportion of his events that fall into the pitcher-only category, the less relevant the quality of his team's fielding is. In the AL in 2001, 29.2% of the events were pitcher-only (HR, BB, K, HBP), whereas the other 70.8% depend, in some unknown proportion, on the pitcher and one or more fielders. Of the six pitchers I looked at, Roger Clemens has the highest percentage of pitcher-only events, 34%, so the quality of the Yankee fielders was somewhat less important to him than it would be to the average pitcher. Mussina's pitcher-only figure was 31.2%, while Garcia, Moyer and Mulder's were all below average. Moyer's pitcher-only figure was only 23.6%, so he was quite dependent on, and took full advantage of, Seattle's fine fielding.

This kind of data says quite clearly that Mike Mussina pitched better than anyone in the AL. His xRuns/out was only 64% of the AL average, and for pitcher-only events it was a rather ridiculous 32.6%. When the ball was put in play, he allowed xRuns at 89% of the AL average. Clemens also did very well "by himself," allowing xRuns at only 46% of the AL average, but when the ball was put in play his xRuns/out was almost 15% worse than average. These two had the best performances in pitcher-only events, followed by Mulder, Garcia, Hudson and Moyer, whose pitcher-only xRuns/out was worse than the AL average.

Of course, this data is all context free, which I believe makes it a better predictor of future performance, but somewhat less relevant to a discussion of past achievement. If a pitcher is able to allow fewer runs than xRuns projects, he should be credited for that, whether it's a repeatable ability or not. Mussina allowed 9 more runs than xRuns, while Clemens allowed six fewer. Of course, one may have gotten better relief support than the other. At the next level up, Clemens made better use of his run support vs. runs allowed than "Pythagoras" projects, so he should get credit for that.

Personally, I would have voted for Mussina.
Cheers,
Alan Shank
   3. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604293)
Thanks, Alan. My conclusion based on my limited assessment was that Clemens and Mussina were 1-2 in the AL when you account for defense, but I didn't have time to run all of the numbers that you did. It'll be interesting to see if Seattle can sustain that level of defensive excellence next year, especially if Boone lands elsewhere.

It would be tempting to try to attribute the difference between Clemens and Mussina in xR/out to the fact that Clemens has ground ball tendencies and Mussina is a definite flyball pitcher. Unfortunately, if that were the case, the difference should have gone the other way - the Yankee infield was better than the Yankee outfield, according to Charlie Saeger's analysis, and subjectively I'd agree with that assessment. The Yankees were playing a converted 2B with throwing problems getting OJT in left and an aging relic in right, which not even Bernie Williams could overcome. Brosius and Tino were still pretty good defensively, offsetting Jeter's continuing problems and Soriano's OJT.
   4. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604294)
One more comment about fielding: It also includes the ability to prevent runners from taking extra bases. Seattle may have done that as well as anyone, too.

-- MWE
   5. Charles Saeger Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604298)
I made the following adjustments:

1) I made an adjustment for team defense.
2) I adjusted home runs allowed for park.
3) I applied both of these, and found runs better than marginal (150% of league average).

pitcher ip r hr hr.adj def r.adj ra net

Mussina 228.2 87 20 18 -3 81 3.20 105

Clemens 220.1 94 19 17 -3 89 3.62 91

Moyer 209.2 84 24 26 17 104 4.46 67

Garcia 238.2 88 16 17 18 107 4.05 88

Mulder 229.1 92 16 16 -1 91 3.57 96

Zito 214.1 92 18 18 -1 91 3.83 84

Hudson 235 100 20 20 -1 99 3.79 93

Mays 233.2 87 25 27 7 96 3.70 95

Buehrle 221.1 89 24 22 3 89 3.62 92

Sparks 232 110 22 25 -10 105 4.09 84

Joe Mays and Steve "Shrub" Sparks were lucky in the hits allowed department, but this doesn't reflect that. Some small portion may be ability, and they did get the outs ...

Anyhow, Mussina is the clear winner, with Mulder the obvious second. Clemens isn't a bad choice, but he isn't the right choice.
   6. Charles Saeger Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604299)
Brad -- I can't speak for the voters, but I don't think anyone really realised just how great the Seattle fielders were until Mike and I were tallying them up after the World Series. We're talking fielders that add 2 wins to each starting pitcher, and I wonder if anyone has ever seen that before.
   7. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:14 AM (#604302)
Brad:

Seattle's competition was more difficult than the Yankees only in retrospect. An example:

The Mariners played 13 games with the A's prior to the All-Star break. The A's before the All-Star break were a different team than they were after the break. Before the break the A's ranked eighth in the AL in OBP, 10th in SLG, and 9th in team OPS. After the break they led the AL in all three categories.

Conversely, the Yankees played 13 of their games with Boston before the break. Boston was 4th in the AL in OPS before the break, dropping to the bottom of the league afterward. There was a 60-point OPS difference in the Red Sox favor before the break; after the break, the A's had an 88-point advantage.

Is it reasonable to assume that at the time the Yankees played them, Boston was a better team offensively than Oakland was at the time the Mariners played them?

Or take a look at the Twins. The Yankees played all six of their games with Minnesota in April and May, when the Twins were riding high. Seattle played Minnesota just twice before the break, seven times afterward (winning all seven) when the Twins were beginning their descent.

Without taking a detailed look at when the teams played each other, and the strength of the opposition at the time that the teams played, I don't see adequate support for the claim that Seattle's competition was stronger than that faced by the Yankees.

-- MWE
   8. Charles Saeger Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604307)
New table. This time, I'll give the expected runs allowed/game based on the competition, and a new marginal runs saved based on that value. I used different values for each team at home and away (ie, Cleveland at home uses different expected runs than Cleveland on the road), which makes some small park adjustment, and does remove the team's hitters from the equation. I also added 0.4 runs/game to the expected number when facing an NL team at home.

These are the start-by-start totals. It is worth more to shutout Seattle than to shutout Tampa Bay.

pitcher or/g.ex or.ex or.marg

Mussina 4.77 121 95

Clemens 4.76 113 77

Moyer 5.02 117 91

Garcia 4.82 128 104

Mulder 5.01 128 100

Zito 5.00 119 87

Hudson 4.79 125 88

Mays 4.88 127 103

Buehrle 4.84 119 90

Sparks 4.99 129 83

I didn't adjust for the fielders. Doing so, Mulder is the best candidate, followed by Mussina. They're close.
   9. scruff Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604308)
"I can't speak for the voters, but I don't think anyone really realised just how great the Seattle fielders were until Mike and I were tallying them up after the World Series. We're talking fielders that add 2 wins to each starting pitcher, and I wonder if anyone has ever seen that before."

Count me in that group. I didn't realize Seattle's D was THAT great this season.

I worked out a spreadsheet that looked at park-adjusted ERA and figured ER prevented and R prevented. I also took a look at W-L record w/respect to run support, as James did in his 1982 and 83 Abstracts. I used a replacement level of league * 1.25. I weighed these 70% for RP, 30% for record in relation to support. I can go through the gory details if you want, for now I'll hold off in the interest of time and space. I'll send the spreadsheet if you want as well, just email me or post here w/an email address.

Garcia pitched 10 more innings than Mussina, and gave up one more run (and one more ER). Both had pretty much the same record that would be expected, based on their support and runs prevented (that factor came out to 69.0 RP for Garcia and 68.4 RP for Mussina). Freddy was also further ahead of the pack in early-mid September, they closed on him the last two weeks. I saw no reason to really dock him for the last two meaningless weeks when his ERA took a minor hit (he was around 2.80 w/two weeks left) and all 4 AL playoff berths were locked in.

The method came up with the following numbers:

Pitcher RP
Mays 70.6
Garcia 68.7
Mussina 68.0
Clemens 63.0
Mulder 61.8
Buehrle 61.7
Moyer 57.6
Hudson 56.1
Sparks 50.9
Radke 49.6
Zito 49.5
Milton 49.1

After that it drops to 45.0 and we are talking guys like Sele, Colon, Sabathia, etc.

I dropped Mays to 3rd on my ballot, because the top 3 were so close and the Twins weren't nearly as successful as the M's/Yanks. I realize this shouldn't matter, I'll only consider this if the players are razor close (i.e. 2.6 runs seperating three guys). Basically I gave the tiebreaker to Garcia over Mussina because he threw 10 more innings, slipped in the last two weeks when the games were meaningless, and I'm sure in the back of my mind was that he was the best pitcher on the best team in baseball. If I had looked at the DIPS ERA's I probably would have voted for the Moose. Even if I had, Garcia still would have won the BPCYA 28-21 :-)

Top 6 from each "component":

Runs Prevented (based on RA and IP)
1. Mays 74.9
2. Garcia 68.6
3. Mussina 67.8
4. Buehrle 64.4
5. Mulder 59.2
6. Clemens 55.0

Runs Prevented (based on W/L w/respect to support)
1. Clemens 81.7
2. Garcia 69.0
3. Sabathia 68.6
4. Mussina 68.4
5. Mulder 68.1
6. Moyer 68.0

Again, Garcia nudged Mussina in both components, and finished second overall in both. I took this into account and figured that top to bottom his season was the best in the AL.

I'd like to note that Clemens W/L is MUCH better than can even be expected from his run support. It wasn't ALL run support as some have suggested. Same for Sabathia and Moyer. Clemens ERA splits (+2/E/-2) probably explain this, but I agree, he should not necessarily get docked for this when evaluating his 2001 performance.

I can see a Mussina vote very easily. If you look at the W/L EVEN ACCOUNTING FOR RUN SUPPORT, a Clemens vote is a slam dunk. This was wide open, I really don't have much of an issue w/awarding it to any of the three.
   10. scruff Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604309)
Charles, don't you think 150% of league average is a really low replacement level?

I think going that low gives too much credit to the horses, I always figured 1.25 was more realistic. That would have set the AL this year at 5.59 ERA, 6.13 RA. Out of all AL pitchers that qualified for the ERA title, only Jose Mercedes was within 0.40 ERA of this level. 150% would be 6.71 ERA or a 7.35 RA. I can't imagine an AL team would have too difficult of a time replacing one of these guys with someone better than that.
   11. Charles Saeger Posted: November 25, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604310)
Yes, I think 150% of the league average is a low replacement rate. However, I chose it as it is the Win Shares replacement rate, and I have been fooling around with those lately.
   12. Michael Posted: November 26, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604328)
Why the AL pitchers (Yankees) were overrated: Quality of opponents.

So I don't totally buy the argument that the Jays and Boston were good teams early while the AL West minus Seattle sucked means that the quality difference was so great. A reason the AL West could have looked bad is they were playing Seattle. A reason the Jays looked decent is they were playing Tampa Bay a lot. Every team in the AL East had a losing record against the AL West. Every team in the AL West had a winning record against the AL East. The AL West was 109-63 for a winning percentage of 0.634!

Every team in the NL West had a winning record against the NL Central, and every team in the NL West except Colorado's 15-17 had a winning record against the NL East. The NL West was the class of the NL. Yet in interleague all but Texas (8-10) were winning records for the AL West and the AL West was 42-30 a 0.600 winning percentage.

And the worst team in the in the West (Texas) still had a potent offense to score runs, while the worst two teams in the East (Baltimore and Tampa Bay) couldn't score runs to save their lives. And since when comparing pitchers it is the quality of your opponents hitting that matters the AL West featured Texas (number 1 team offense, based on OPS, at 0.815), Seattle (number 3 team offense, based on OPS, at 0.805), Oakland (number 5 team offense, based on OPS, at 0.784), and lastly Anaheim (number 10 team offense, based on OPS, at 0.732). In the AL East you have Boston (number 6 team offense, based on OPS, at 0.773 - worse than 3 of the 4 AL West teams), New York (number 8 offense, based on OPS, at 0.769), Toronto (number 9 offense, based on OPS, at 0.755), Tampa Bay (number 13 offense, based on OPS, at 0.707), and Baltimore (number 14 offense, based on OPS, at 0.699). Just doing a quick average the AL East average team OPS is 0.741. The AL West averge team OPS is 0.784 - better than the top AL East team. Even if you take Seattle out of the West and NYY out of the East the non-seattle AL West average team OPS is 0.777 (the non Oakland AL West is 0.784), the non-yankee AL East average team OPS is 0.734. That is an incredibly huge gap in opponents abilities.
   13. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 27, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604335)
OK, let's take a look at something here:

Blue Jays vs Yankees, April: scored 13,3,5,6,7,5 runs
Blue Jays vs Oakland, May: scored 5,0,2,5,5,8 runs
Blue Jays vs Seattle, May: scored 8,5,11,2,7,5 runs

Blue Jays vs Yankees, July/August: scored 10,5,3,2,1,1,3,0,3,4 runs
Blue Jays vs Oakland, August: scored 6,5,4 runs
Blue Jays vs Seattle, August: scored 4,4,6 runs

Boston vs Yankees, April: scored 3,2,5,4,1,8,3 runs
Boston vs Oakland, May: scored 3,7,5,6,9,5 runs
Boston vs Seattle, May: scored 2,1,3,12,5,2 runs

Boston vs Yankees, August/Sept: scored 1,1,0,2,2,2 runs
Boston vs Oakland, August: scored 2,1,0 runs
Boston vs Seattle, August: scored 3,2,6 runs

I don't see anything there that suggests the Yankees caught any breaks when they played Boston and Toronto.

-- MWE
   14. Michael Posted: November 28, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604353)
"Clemens, Mussina or the St. Louis Rams don't make up the schedule."

But Garcia and Todd Helton didn't build their home parks either, but people fairly adjust their results based on the park factor. To figure out who pitched best you need to take everything in to account. Strength of opponents included.
   15. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 29, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604358)
Yes, you have to be concerned with strength of opposition - AT THE TIME THAT THEY PLAYED, NOT where they finished the season.

At the time the Yankees played most of their games against Boston, the Red Sox had a good offense (check out their first half and second half performance). At the time Seattle played most of their games against Oakland, the A's offense was lousy (check out *theirs*, especially relative to the Red Sox). At the time the Yankees played their games against Minnesota, the Twins were in their overachieving stage. At the time Seattle and Oakland played Minnesota, the Twins were into their decline.

With the unbalanced schedule, these considerations become important. If you don't account for them, you give a false picture of the *real* strength of the opposition.

-- MWE
   16. RobertMachemer Posted: November 30, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604361)
Mike Emleigh points out that he thinks that strength of offense should be determined by how good it is when it plays its opponent. Certainly, that seems like a reasonable thing to pursue. Unfortunately, it is probably impossible to do practically.

Over the short haul, any team can look like it has a good offense or a bad one. Early in the season, some players challenge .400 and some offenses go in the tank. The Oakland A's had little going right for them early in the season, but is that a measurement of the quality of their opponents (they played the Mariners a lot early on, as I recall) or a measure of how good they were at the time, or merely a fluke distribution of their highs and lows? I'm reasonably sure that any attempt to assess the strength of a team's offense at any given moment will run into problems of small sample size AND of dividing the noise from the signal.

It makes far more sense to me (who is not about to go out and do this, mind you), to simply figure opponent-offenses using year-end numbers. How many runs did the A's score against non-Mariners and non-Yankees teams? Figure out how many runs per game that is, then weight the Mariners and Yankees opponent-offenses by how many times they played the A's (who scored however many runs per game against neutral teams). Do the same for each team in the league. Off the top of my head (i.e., I'm probably screwing this all up), that can probably give you a sense of how much the Mariners were screwed by playing in the same division as the A's. Repeat for every team.

As I say, I'm probably forgetting a whole bunch of things that are necessary in order to make this really neutral, and, again, it's because I think it would be impossible to figure how strong a team is at any given moment.

Catch you later.
--Robert Machemer
   17. RobertMachemer Posted: November 30, 2001 at 01:15 AM (#604362)
"At the time the Yankees played their games against Minnesota, the Twins were in their overachieving stage. At the time Seattle and Oakland played Minnesota, the Twins were into their decline."

But were the Twins "over-achieving" because they were only playing the Yankees, as opposed to the A's and Mariners? Was their decline worsened because they started playing the two best teams in the league? I'd guess that it's an impossible question to answer.

Catch you later.
--Robert Machemer

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