"On Paper" Playoff Leaders
This Week's Breakdown
Lots of movers this week. The Rays had a fine week with a very balanced attack (including great fielding!) to leapfrog over the Yankees for tops in the AL East. The Rangers gained eight spots in the power rankings and are suddenly right in the thick of things with the Athletics and the A's. The Nationals are free-falling their way down toward the bottom as you'd expect.
But the team I want to talk about today are the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers had one of the ridiculous weeks I've seen. On Thursday, April 22nd, the Brewers defeated the Pirates 20-0. Wow, right? Then they went back home and got crushed by the Cubs 8-1, 5-1, and 12-2 over the next three days. Yikes! And then, finally, the Pirates came BACK into town and were promptly destroyed 17-3. And finally, last night, the Pirates returned the favor and crushed Trevor Hoffman's bid for his 4th save with the Brewers.
So, what does the power rankings make of a this team? Thanks in part to those two extreme blow-outs of the Pirates, the Brewers' offense ranks--by a large margin--as the best in baseball. In fact, we estimate, based on their hitting and baserunning statistics, the Brewers should probably have scored 6 more runs than they actually have...and they already were tied for most runs scored in MLB.
Defense-wise, early returns have not been as good: the Brewers' team ERA is 5.16, 4th from the bottom in the NL. Both UZR and DRS have them in the negative 10+ run range, and even the catching shakes out as only about average. So that's part of what's driving down the ERA. But some of it might just be bad luck. Their FIP is a more respectable 4.77, and their xFIP--which adjusts for HR/FB rate and is the basis of the pitching runs allowed estimate--is above-average at 4.22. The Brewers have their one really good starting pitcher--Yovani Gallardo--while the rest of the rotation is cobbled together as a bunch of decent back of the rotation guys: Randy Wolf, David Bush, Doug Davis, and Jeff Suppan. Like their bullpen, some of those guys have been solid to start the year (Wolf), while others have been really hit around (Suppan).
Overall, at least while the Pittsburgh games aren't diluted by the rest of the sample, the Brewers shake out as an offensive powerhouse with good enough pitching to get them near the top of the rankings. We'll see how long it lasts.
Converting Runs to Wins
RS = Actual Runs Scored, after a park adjustment
eRS = Estimated Runs Scored, after park adjustment (see "Offense" table below)
RA = Actual Runs Allowed, after a park adjustment
eRA = Estimated Runs Allowed, after park adjustments (see "Defense" table below)
W% = Actual Winning Percentage
pW% = PythagenPat Winning Percentage, based on actual runs scored and run allowed totals
cW% = Component Winning Percentage, using estimated runs scored and estimated runs allowed totals
LgAdj = League adjustment, based on differences in league quality (justification here and here).
TPI = Team Performance Index, a hypothetical winning % based on component estimates of runs scored and runs allowed after the league adjustment.
Team Offenses and Defenses
RS = Actual Runs Scored
eRS = Estimated Runs Scored: wRC + EqBRR
wOBA = The Book's statistic, but park adjusted, and using data from both wRC and EqBRR
OBP = On Base Percentage (Times on Base / Plate Appearances)
SLG = Slugging Percentage (Total Bases / At Bats)
wRC = From FanGraphs, with baserunning removed, after park adjustments
EqBRR = Dan Fox's composite baserunning statistics from Baseball Prospectus, minus stolen bases since they are included in wRC.
Clutch = "Clutchiness" measure from fangraphs; difference between actual WPA and expected WPA based on component statistics. We report this in runs.
RA = Actual Runs Allowed, after park adjustment
eRA = Estimated Runs Allowed: tRuns - Field - Catch
ERA = Straight-up Earned Run Average
FIP = Fielding-Independent Runs, based strictly on K-, BB-, and HR-rates.
xFIP = Experimental Fielding-Independent Runs from FanGraphs. Like FIP, but with HR/Outfield Fly Ball rates regressed completely to league average. xFIP is as predictive as any other DIPS-like stat.
xFIPrns = Pitching Runs Allowed, based on xFIP
Field = The average of team UZR and team DRS (minus rSB since I calculate catcher fielding separately).
Catch = Catcher Fielding Runs, based on SB's, CS's, WP's, PB's, and E's. The methods are essentially those described here. But I'm using B-Ref data this year, and so there are slight tweaks to the methodology, generally in ways that should lead to greater precision.
BABIP = Batting Average on Balls In Play. Fluctuates at the team level with fielding, although chance events can have effects as well.