Playoff Horse Race part 1

We’re almost a month away from October  so let’s start looking at the playoff horse races.   This analysis will be done differently than other sites.  If you want to see who is ahead in divisions and wild cards there are plenty of sites out there like ESPN and baseball-reference.  Two weeks ago we displayed a table that computed WAAs for hitting and pitching according to  current rosters.  Here is the current table as of all data up to 8/29/2017.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
LAN 6.06 20.82 8.65 12.17 26.88 53
WAS 15.10 21.48 19.98 1.50 36.58 28
HOU 19.77 10.46 8.10 2.36 30.23 28
CLE 8.86 21.18 9.66 11.52 30.04 18
BOS 2.61 18.27 7.76 10.51 20.88 17
ARI 12.50 21.72 15.54 6.18 34.22 15
COL 17.61 5.89 -0.23 6.12 23.50 11
NYA 15.08 20.96 8.62 12.34 36.04 10
CHN 9.05 13.85 3.04 10.81 22.90 10
MIL 4.55 16.38 6.36 10.02 20.93 5
MIN 0.40 -0.90 -2.52 1.62 -0.50 4
MIA 8.25 1.75 -0.22 1.97 10.00 2
ANA -3.89 3.18 -2.52 5.70 -0.71 2
BAL 11.68 -7.69 -18.54 10.85 3.99 1
SLN 6.45 14.71 9.38 5.33 21.16 0
SEA 5.41 -2.91 -8.31 5.40 2.50 0
TBA 0.00 8.81 4.33 4.48 8.81 -1
TEX 11.61 -1.72 -3.58 1.86 9.89 -2
KCA -6.52 1.00 -4.55 5.55 -5.52 -2
PIT -2.32 8.12 0.38 7.74 5.80 -6
TOR -5.29 -0.85 -3.47 2.62 -6.14 -9
OAK 0.05 -5.52 -5.60 0.08 -5.47 -15
ATL 0.43 3.48 -1.97 5.45 3.91 -15
NYN -4.69 -0.46 0.04 -0.50 -5.15 -16
DET 2.58 0.31 -0.84 1.15 2.89 -16
SDN -11.49 -3.89 -3.02 -0.87 -15.38 -17
CIN 8.66 -7.13 -6.54 -0.59 1.53 -21
CHA -10.11 -14.97 -11.43 -3.54 -25.08 -25
SFN -9.00 -5.48 -7.74 2.26 -14.48 -27
PHI -7.28 0.64 -1.96 2.60 -6.64 -32

This table is sorted by real team WAA or W-L which is the only column  that the Commissioner of MLB cares about.  All the other numbers represent sums of player WAAs computed by this data model for hitting, pitching, starters, relief, and the total for the entire team.

Current roster value will typically be higher than real team WAA because of acquisitions and players getting washed out of the league.  The Yankees are a perfect example of a team that made a lot of moves at the trade deadline to improve their team.  Washington also improved their team through trades — especially their relief which was once near worst in MLB.

LAN has a real WAA of +53, perhaps on track to break a record for wins in a season, yet they don’t have the highest total.  Let’s look at team status.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
31.7 163.2 645 426 91 38 19.3 4.8 LAN

The Dodgers should be close to clinching the division already.  Look at that Unearned Runs above average number (UR).  That’s top of the league.  This means the Dodgers have the best fielding in MLB.   Colorado is second and Anaheim is third.  ANA has Trout and Simmons.  We remarked how Simmons’ defense might over affect his WAR here,   WAR had Simmons ranked #2 player in MLB which is absurd.   The ANA UR shows Simmons may be significantly  helping his team defensively.   There is no way he’s  helping enough to propel him to the #2 spot however (he’s #5 now).

The PITCH number in team status line is outstanding, far ahead of CLE who is second.  Oddly their pitching total seems kind of low.  There has to be some good players not on the roster for some reason.  Here are LAN players in the top 100.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+003+ 7.69 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH
+011+ 5.63 Alex_Wood_LAN PITCH
+017+ 5.08 Cody_Bellinger_LAN 1B-LF
+036+ 4.26 Kenley_Jansen_LAN PITCH
+063+ 3.23 Pedro_Baez_LAN PITCH
+092+ 2.71 Chris_Taylor_LAN LF-CF-2B
+099+ 2.58 Hyun-Jin_Ryu_LAN PITCH

They have 7 players in the top 100 and their two top pitchers aren’t listed on the roster.  If those pitchers come back for the playoffs that adds more than +13 to starter total  giving them a team total of +40 WAA value which is well ahead of the rest of the league.  This should be expected.

The teams colored purple are currently leading their division and the teams in green are currently eligible to play in their league’s wild card game.  The blue highlights are top of the league in their respective categories.

The starter column shows the sum of all starters.    It’s the individual starter that is important for each playoff game.   Great pitchers, like Clayton Kershaw and Greg Maddux, have had trouble pitching in the playoffs.  Soon  we’ll put together a historical report on all playoffs since 1900 and show some of these anomalies.  Playoffs are more intense and some players succumb to the pressure and other players, like Manny Ramirez, seem as if they’re genuinely having fun.

The numbers in the roster dump table is just an accurate representation of past results.  That is all for now.  Next report when the Cubs start a new series which is … I haven’t checked the schedule.  Until then….