Friday, July 29, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - July edition

I don't know how this happened, but these rankings didn't get posted.  I found them on my spreadsheet that keeps track of movement from month to month when I was writing up August's rankings.  It's too bad because I had some good comments on some teams that moved a lot (Pirates from 26 to 14, Florida from 9 to 20, Oakland from 13 to 23), but in retrospect the analysis was flawed as the month of July showed, so probably better that nobody saw it !  Anyhow, here is the list FWIW, sans commentary:

#1 - Philadelphia (--,1/2)
#2 - Boston (--, 1/8)
#3 - San Francisco (+5, 3/12)
#4 - Yankees (+2, 4/10)
#5 - Atlanta (+5, 5/16)
#6 - Texas (-3, 3/10)
#7 - Tampa Bay (-2, 5/8)
#8 - Detroit (+6, 8/14)
#9 - Milwaukee (-2, 7/18)
#10 - St. Louis (-6, 4/15)
#11 - Angels (+6, 11/22)
#12 - Arizona (+4, 12/27)
#13 - Toronto (+2, 13/20)
#14 - Pittsburgh (+12, 14/29)
#15 - Cincinnati (+3, 14/18)
#16 - Cleveland (-4, 12/30)
#17 - Washington (+10, 17/27)
#18 - Mets (+7, 18/28)
#19 - White Sox (--, 15/23)
#20 - Florida (-11, 5/20)
#21 - Minnesota (+3, 3/24)
#22 - Colorado (-11, 2/22)
#23 - Oakland (-10, 4/23)
#24 - Dodgers (-1, 20/24)
#25 - Seattle (-3, 22/27)
#26 - Cubs (-5, 12/26)
#27 - Kansas City (+1, 22/28)
#28 - San Diego (+1, 17/29)
#29 - Baltimore (-9, 17/29)
#30 - Houston (--, 28/30)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Division realignments and playoff

Lately there has been a lot of talk about division re-alignment and changing the MLB playoff format. When MLB expanded to 3 divisions in each league, I gave a lot about how to optimize pennant races.  I think now is a good time to revisit this.

Before I explain my proposal, here is a brief history of how we got to the current system:

Until 1969 whoever led their league in wins in the regular season advanced to the World Series.  No divisions, no wildcards.  It made the regular season extremely meaningful - pennant races could be exciting, knowing that one game could be the difference between going to the World Series and missing the playoffs entirely (see 1967 example under point #1 below).  It also often made the end of the season meaningless.  The Tigers made the World Series in 1968 by winning the pennant by 12 games.  I don't think there was a lot of drama in September of that year.

From 1969 to 1993, there were two divisions in each league, and the two winners would meet each other in a League Championship Series to determine the pennant winner and World Series entrant.  Having two divisions helped increase the possibility of two sets of teams in playoff races.  But a series between a team with a big lead in their division, and team fighting to win the other division was only meaningful to one of the teams.  Also, the second best team often missed the playoffs, while a weaker division winner advanced (you're all thinking the 1978 Red Sox, but what about the 95 win 1973 Dodgers watching as the Reds took on the 82 wins Mets in the NLCS?)  

In 1995, leagues expanded to 3 divisions and added a wildcard.   Now a good team stuck in a better division had a chance to make the playoffs  (A little too late for the 103 win 1993 Giants in the same NL West as the 104 win Braves).

I hated the wildcard when it was first introduced, because it took a little away from the aura of winning your division, or having the best overall record.   At the time I thought a better system would have been to only have the three division winners make the playoffs, and give a bye to the team with the best overall record.  This would give the possibility of 4 races down the stretch:  One for each division, and another between the division leaders for best overall record.  (Of course, I softened my stance after 2004)

After seeing this system in place for the last 15 years or so, here are my thoughts on how it can be improved keeping in mind that, in my opinion, an ideal system would ensure all of the following:

#1 Reward team with best overall record
This is best argued by the old-timers who remember that prior to expansion only a single team made the playoffs from each league and they met in the World Series.  So a late September series between 2 teams near the top of the standings were treated essentially like playoff games.  During the 1967 Impossible Dream season, Boston narrowly beat out the Minnesota and Detroit by 1 game to win the pennant.  Red Sox fans were not as lucky in 1948 when their team was tied with Cleveland and lost a 1 game playoff, or in 1949 when they finished 1 game behind the Yankees.  (As an aside, "Summer of '49" by David Halberstam is a must read.  It is about that season's pennant race, but is also a glimpse of a different era and the role baseball played in a post-war society.  Just a great book whether or not you're a Red Sox fan or even a baseball fan).  Today a team that has their division wrapped up early has no incentive to go all out to win down the stretch.  The last couple of weeks in September are used to rest the regulars and align the post-season rotation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More than just a game

Came across something I thought I should share with my readers, and I wasn't sure whether to post it here  or on my Baseball in Alberta blog.

This blog  has stories that are of interest to Red Sox fans.  It's slightly geared towards Albertans or Canadians, but is also of interest to fans from elsewhere, whether it's Boston or Bangladesh.  Red Sox Nation knows no borders.

The Baseball in Alberta blog has stories of interest to baseball fans in Alberta.  Whether it's about a local team or academy or tournaments or camps or tryouts, or players who have moved on and are enjoying success elsewhere, or famous players who are in the province for whatever reason, the common theme is that it's about baseball and is of particular interest to Albertans.

This story isn't about anything to do with the Red Sox.  Or Alberta.

For that matter it really has very little to do with baseball.
So why am I writing about it?  Because it's about more than just a game.  And in the grand scheme of things way more important.
So I'm posting it in both places to try and reach a wider audience.

Please read it by clicking on the link to the Seamheads website below:

And if after reading it you suddenly find out that all that dust in your computer must have gotten in your eyes and they're watering, please click on the donation widget at that page and help if you can.  And pass the link along to anyone else who might be touched by it.

The writer of the article above also passed along the following information:

A Luncheon will be held for Jim and his family in early August and items will be auctioned off.  If you can contribute something to the auction or know someone who might be willing to, I'd be forever in your debt.  I didn't know Jim well but we share mutual friends and I hope to get to know him better over the coming months.  None of us knows his fate but he's fighting as hard as he can and everything we can do for the Orr family will help.

If you want to donate an item (or items) to the auction, please send it to me and I'll make sure it gets where it needs to go:

12630 SE Stephens St.
Portland, OR 97233 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

OOTP 12 full review

I've finally put OOTP down long enough to write a more complete review of it.  I've posted it on the Baseball in Alberta blog.  Have a read, let me know your thoughts.