01 September 2017

Ratings and Projections through 8/31: Indians Target Astros as Dodgers Hit Skid

The surging Cleveland Indians have established themselves as the second best team in the league and have a real shot at the top seed in the American League. In contrast, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros continue their retreat from the commanding heights of mid-season.

RPScore Trends for Select Teams Season-to-Date

Top Teams through 8/31:
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.622)
  2. Cleveland Indians (.595)
  3. Houston Astros (.589)

Projected AL Seeds:*
  1. Houston  (97 - 65)
  2. Cleveland (95 - 67)
  3. Boston Red Sox (91 - 71)
  4. New York Yankees (88 - 74; 1st WC)
  5. Minnesota Twins (84 - 78; 2nd WC)
  6. Los Angeles Angels (82 - 80; 1st out)

Projected NL Seeds:*
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (110 - 52)
  2. Washington Nationals (98 - 64)
  3. Chicago Cubs (89 - 73)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks (92 - 70; 1st WC)
  5. Colorado Rockies (86 - 76; 2nd WC)
  6. Milwaukee Brewers (84 - 78; 1st out)
*Margin of error (80% prediction interval): +/- 4.0 wins

Comments and Observations:
  • From here on out, the projections and the standings will likely remain in pretty close agreement, give or take a game or two. 
  • One thing they agree on is that the race at the top of the AL is heating up. The Cleveland Indians are currently 3.5 games back of Houston and project to finish two out.
  • That's well within the current margin of error (80% prediction interval) of approximately four games.
    • Speaking of Houston, a methodological note: with the Astros' games having relocated to St. Petersburg, FL, due to Hurricane Harvey, the RPScore system will count those games as being played at a neutral park for the purposes of home field advantage (i.e. it won't calculate any) while using Tropicana Field's numbers to adjust for park effects.
    • Speaking of Hurricane Harvey, consider donating to help the relief effort.
  • On the other end of the AL playoff hunt, the race for the second wild card spot has thinned out a bit, with the New York Yankees projected to host the Minnesota Twins.
  • That said, the Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are all within the margin of error of a wild card appearance.
  • Not that the Yanks have given up on winning their division. While they briefly fell behind the Red Sox by a projected five games after Wednesday's game, they're back within three after New York's win last night.
  • That setback represented the first time all season the gap between the Yankees and Red Sox was greater than the projections' margin of error.
  • While the Dodgers still seem to have a lock on the top seed in the NL, a chance at the MLB all-time regular season wins record seems out of reach, at least for the moment.
  • The best case (90th percentile) scenario in my projections has LA winning 114, falling two wins short of the Mariners' 2001 effort.
  • The race for the NL Wild Card has only become more competitive, with the Colorado Rockies unable to shake the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.
  • The Washington Nationals are the first team this season to produce 10+ runs in 20 contests.
  • The official home team (counting Houston's status in Florida) has won 54% of the games this season with a run differential of +379.

Good Links:
  • Albert Pujols used to be the best. Now he's the worst, says Rob Arthur.
  • Too bad he's not a pitcher, or else the Angels could use the same DL shenanigans their NL counterparts have used to keep their pitchers fresh (also Rob Arthur).
  • Look, the statistics that connect most viscerally to our baseball-enjoying experience are never going away and the new stats that we can experience more directly will be the easiest for the average fan to accept: story by Jay Caspian Kang.
  • The kind of video review muck-up described here by Craig Calcaterra simply cannot happen.

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