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Entering Saturday’s action, every AL East team has a negative run differential

Apr 26, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

John Farrell; David Ortiz John Farrell; David Ortiz

On Saturday morning, ESPN’s Buster Olney passed along the interesting fact that all five teams in the American League East has a negative run differential. The first-place Yankees are tied for the worst differential at -10 with the Red Sox, while the second-place Orioles are at -1, the third-place Blue Jays are at -6, and the last-place Rays are at -2.

It’s still early so run differential doesn’t mean a whole lot. But over a larger sample of games, run differential correlates strongly to winning baseball games. By this simple arithmetic function, we can conclude with a large grain of salt that the five AL East teams have played no better than average baseball to begin the season.

The only other division with three teams in the red in run differential is the AL West. The Rangers (-2), Mariners (-6), and the Astros (-51) have played subpar baseball. It’s… a bit of an understatement for the Astros.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    I think one of the factors there is that all of the AL East teams have delivered, and suffered, blow out losses pretty much at the hands of each other.

    I’m not sure any of them have lost a game by like 5 runs outside of the division. I only looked briefly though.

    • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      Which means what?

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        I’m just saying that is why all the team’s in the AL East have an odd run differential.

        Because they are blowing out each other for whatever reason.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        Which makes no sense whatsoever as explained by deadeyedesign.

      • djpostl - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        It means the whole “the division is weak” implication of negative run differential isn’t on point.

        If the only reason you have negative differentials is because each team has handed multiple “beat downs” by 7 or 8 runs that is the source of the differential.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Having blowout losses within the AL East would essentially be a net 0 in terms of run differential as a whole in terms of the division.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        If they were blowing out each other by the same amount, and an equal number of times, that is true.

        But that isn’t how the blowouts have been distributed thus far because the teams haven’t all played each other.

        Boston has lost to the Yankees 14-5 and blown out the Blue Jays 8-1 in back to back games, but that’s not a net 0 in run differential is it? The Blue Jays have beaten the Orioles 11-3 and lost to them 4-11. That’s also not a net 0. Yankees beat the Rays 10-2 and lost to them 1-16.

        I mean this with no snarkiness, am I explaining that clearly?

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Please stop digging.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        Please stop responding.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        No matter how many times you try to “explain” it, 0+0=0.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Point is the distribution of the blowouts is a factor in the run differential between the teams in that specific division.

        It happens that the run differential actually IS 346-345 after crunching the numbers, however lopsided games don’t necessarily balance out perfectly in run differential. That was what I was getting after just a cursory view of the schedule. They have had a lot of lopsided games in round robin fashion. The closer games have obviously made up the difference.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Lopsided games within the division always balance out.

      • djpostl - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        “No matter how many times you try to “explain” it, 0+0=0.”

        Someone’s brain can’t handle the concept that it never is 0 + 0 = 0 though lol.

        Read what he posted again. And again.

        Maybe it’ll sink in at some point that a 16-1 outlier isn’t the same as an 8-1 more typical “blowout”.

        Or maybe it won’t based on what we’ve seen from you so far.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        What are you talking about? Intra-division games literally have no effect on the division-wide run differential. If the Yankees beat the Red Sox 8-1, the Yankees are +7 and the Red Sox are -7. If the Blue Jays beat the Orioles 16-1, the Blue Jays are +15 and the Os are -15. While an individual team’s run differential could be the result of some beat-downs from their division-mates, the aggregate run differential of the division is axiomatically its run differential against non-division foes. This isn’t difficult math, people.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Thanks Kevin. I will await the djpostl and tfbuckfutter apologies, but I won’t hold my breath.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        Kevin, I was just saying that, since most of the teams in the division have played a disproportionate amount of games against each other, their alternating terribleness specifically against one another (while not suffering the same abuse outside of the division) was contributing to the anomaly of all the teams in one division being in the negative in run differential.

        Jesus. It’s not that difficult. The numbers didn’t bear out my cursory look at the schedule, but it’s really not a hard concept to grasp. 5 teams alternately beating up on one another to different degrees while avoiding taking beatings outside the division can lead to skewed numbers in the division. That’s all I was saying.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        It doesn’t skew anything. If one team took a disproportionate beating from its division mates as opposed to inter-division games, the other teams were that much worse outside of the division.

        Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:40 PM

        Keep digging. We know what you are saying, and your contention is dead wrong. Every division has a zero run differential within the division. Every day, every year, every inning, every second, the run differential with a league is zero. It can never change. Never alter, regardless how bad teams within the division beat up on each other.

        So your excuse for the run differential in the AL East is pure B.S. And you continue to embarrass yourself, and insult people who are trying to get it through your dense skull.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        I understand that.

        There is also a huge difference between the Sox being -10 and the Orioles being -1. (Which speaks nothing of the Yankees going from -1 to -10 because of last nights out of division game).

        If 2 teams play each other twice and the results are 15-6 and 4-9 the run differential is +4 for team A and -4 for team B.

        If team A goes 2-1 2-5 2-5 in their next 3 games outside the division that teams run differential is now -1 for the season. Right? If team B also goes 2-1 2-5 and 2-5 now the two teams, in that division are -1 and -9 respectively.

        Those two teams, trading disproportionate beatings while performing the same outside of the division are both now worse in run differential.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:49 PM

        Not only that, the more the AL East teams have played each other, the worse their negative run differential makes their inter-division performance look. AL East teams have played a total of 118 games (double-counting divisional matchups – I just added each team’s games played). The division has a -28 run differential on the year. On the whole, that’s an average of -0.24 run diff. But there’s only been 42 games outside of the division, with the same -28 RD. That’s -0.67 runs/game. Saying they’ve played each other a lot makes it look worse, not better.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        You are changing your story now. Just admit you goofed, and move on. When a division has a negative run differential throughout the division, it means their division sucks and other divisions are beating up on them. That was the original point of the post. It was true this morning and it is still true now.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        The disproportionate beatings had nothing to do with it. If the games between A and B had been 3-1 and 2-0, you’d have the exact same run differential for each team, and the only way they were both negative is because they both did poorly outside the division.

        If you want to make the point “run differential is too heavily skewed by individual games at this point in the season to be a reliable measure of team talent” you’d be absolutely right. But teams beating up on each other within the division has absolutely nothing to do with it.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        I don’t think I was defending the AL east as a good division at any point. I have been talking about the disparity between the teams and the anomaly of them all being in the negative.

        We’re talking about teams that have played an unbalanced number of games against each other (Boston hasn’t even played Tampa yet). I’m not and haven’t been talking about the division as a whole. I fully recognize that what I’m trying to get across isn’t being understood but I don’t know how to express it differently.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:28 PM

        We understand what you are suggesting. It just cannot be re-enforced using run differential within the league. It is okay to believe the East is tough. It is okay to believe they are beating up on each other. But it isn’t correct to use the run differential metric, and the fact that both teams are scoring a lot of runs against each other in blowouts cannot be used through run differential to prove your point.

        I even understand how at first blush it might seem to be that way, but when you stop and think about the automatic zero effect, you realize that what you contend based on run differential makes no sense.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        spud, see my above post at 6:47.

        Those numbers can still work even if the disparity between the two teams in blowouts is different and one of the team goes 3-0 in in games outside the division.

        Again, I am not suggesting the AL East is a tough division. I don’t care. I’m also not using the run differential metric for any reason other than the freaking topic of this blog post.

        Team A: 16-0, 1-7 (+10) followed by 1-4, 0-4, 3-7 (-1)
        Team B: (-10) followed by 1-0, 4-1, 5-2 (-3)

        One team just dominated outside the division but because of trading those blowouts with Team A, they are STILL in the negative while Team A despite a huge run differential after a bad run of non-blowouts is also now in the negative.

        That’s not a defense of the division. It’s showing why the anomaly can occur because of the disproportionate blowouts. I fully recognize that the division, against the rest of baseball, has given up 29 more runs than they have scored. And even if I DID care about defending the division as a whole, I could point out that 12 of those runs occurred specifically last night against the Yankees, before which they were in the positive in run differential overall, so a couple bad games could theoretically account for all the differential. Another reason run differential isn’t actually a point I would argue in any situation unless it was brought up.

  2. spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Yeah, the starting pitching in the AL East is atrocious. All five teams are in the bottom 10 in the MLB.

    And while the Mariners have a negative run differential, their strength of schedule has been tough, which is why the combined Simple Rating System is a more meaningful stat than just run differential. Which makes the AL East an even worse division as all five teams have a negative SRS. The Al Central isn’t much better as no team there has a positive SRS.

    • bronxbomber213 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      So what’s your argument that the mariners are better than the 5 AL east teams? didn’t they just lose 7 straight?

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        Exactly to both.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        The AL East is 15-19 outside of their division, with 5 of those wins coming against the Astros and Cubs. If anything their SRS is more favorable than it should be.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      Tigers break even.

      • happytwinsfan - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        they are one of the twin powers of baseball’s marque division.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        Run with it while you can.

      • happytwinsfan - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        don’t worry spud. when i can’t i’ll just switch to pointing out the relative smallness of the statistical differences.

        reality is insignificant and my powers of self persuasion are limitless.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        I can see how being a Twins’ fan over the past few years can lead to greater creativity and character enhancement.

    • bronxbomber213 - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      So in your estimation how many AL east teams will the Mariners have a better record than over 162? Good teams don’t lose 7 straight I mean u say they played good squads they lost to the Marlins and the Astros over those 7 losses but yet you use the AL east victories over the Astros as a point to prove they are not that good…help me out here….

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        4. Much like the Tampa Bay Rays who will end up with more wins than the Mariners, Seattle’s starting pitching has 3 guys on the DL, but not for long.

        Often good teams lose 7 straight.

        It isn’t just me who believe the Mariners are better than all the AL East teams to date, the info comes from Baseball-Reference.com.

        Yes, some of the Mariners’ losses have come at the hands of the Marlins and Astros. The Marlins are better than you think, and the Mariner wins have come against better teams than the AL East has played.

      • djpostl - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        We have a butthurt Mariner fan. It all comes to light as he suddenly realized that for them a quarter of a billion dollars only buys them a few weeks before they slip back into irrelevance.

      • clydeserra - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:00 PM

        I think the 2012 A’s lost 7 or 8 in a row

    • djpostl - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      And at the end of the year they’ll have winning records against every other division. By a good margin. Just like every season for the last half decade.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        Well you are dead wrong on the first observation, and to date you are dead wrong in your “yearly” prediction. Is this stupid day at HBT?

        The reason the once “Beast” is more accurately described as “Least”, is due to their being thrashed outside of their division. It has nothing to do with the margin of victory within their division.

  3. dirtyharry1971 - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    All I know is Morrow from the bluejays had a hell of a day, 2 2/3 innings with 8 walks!! YIKES!!

    • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Not many empty seats in Toronto today. Another DH prediction that falls flat. Don’t you ever get tired of being so wrong? Is the attention really worth it?

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Hey, tbuckfutter was wrong like six times up thread without getting tired of it, and he’s an otherwise reasonable, intelligent poster. Do you really think a troglodyte like harry ever gets tired of being a fool?

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Yeah, I am tired of trying to explain the run differential thing, and now djpostl, has caught the stupid disease from tfbuckfutter. You willin’ to try “explain” it?

      • dirtyharry1971 - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        Um you obviously didn’t check the attendance numbers, how about you do that first before opening your pie hole

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        40,322. My “piehole” says you are even one step stupider, that before your post. Really, moron, don’t you get tired of being wrong?

  4. dirtyharry1971 - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

    Here are the attendance numbers, the jays are 20th, now that they season is already starting to go under expect that number to drop some more, I LOVE IT!

    • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:51 PM

      40,322 Wrong Again.

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