Your verification ID is: guDlT7MCuIOFFHSbB3jPFN5QLaQ Big Computing: Yankees and Tigers are the best and worst Run Differentail MLB teams of the decade

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yankees and Tigers are the best and worst Run Differentail MLB teams of the decade

While I watched the Home Run Derby and the MLB All Star Game. I can not say that I was interested much in either one of them. They just do not feel important to me. I did get me thinking about what is important in Baseball. Run Differential is probably the most telling historical statistic in baseball. If you score more runs than you opponent then you should win more games.

In the last decade the Yankees are the team with the largest average run differential and the highest in a season is by the Red Sox at +210 in 2007. The Detroit Tigers have the most unfavorable run differential for a season in the last decade with an stunning -337 in 2003. That is simply amazing.

Bill James showed (runs scored)^2/((runs scored)^2+(runs allowed)^2))*162 is a pretty good predictor of a teams record for the regular season. TwinsGeek gives a short blog on that here. However, in baseball the prize is the playoffs. In that vien I ran across this blog post by Bill Petti. It got me to thinking that maybe in baseball like football offense pads your regular season record, but defense wins championships. Following that I found this post looking at the relationship between team payroll and run differential. I have to admit it make a strong case for implementing some type of payroll controls in baseball. Otherwise Major League Baseball could ended up looking like the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals year after year.

However, there is a problem with that. A top ten payroll has only won the World Series a third of the time in the last nine years. While the teams with payrolls ranking from 11 to 20 have won 5 of the last nine, and one of the lowest third of payrolls has won 1 series. Compare that to only 2 teams ranked out of the top ten in runs allowed (2009 Yankees and 2007 Red Sox), and I think there is a story to be told here. High payroll teams can and do win World Series with offensive power, but middle and low payroll teams wins the series with defense. I can only assume this is because under current market conditions it is cheaper to build a strong defensive team than a strong offensive team. So far in 2011 the Yankees and the Red Sox has the best run differential while the Philadelphia has the fewest runs allowed.

Hope you enjoyed the All Star Break and are ready for the second half of the season.


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