Here are a couple of interesting ways to look at the Durham Bulls performance over the year (interesting for me, that is, and maybe for a couple of readers). Click on the charts to get a larger view.
In the first chart we expand on the idea of "weighted On Base Average". What the chart shows is the Bulls team wOBA (green bars) for each game after the All-Star break. Next to the Bulls bar is the Opponent's wOBA (OwOBA, red bars) for the same game. The "trend" lines are 10-game moving averages. The wOBA is a good read of a team's overall offensive performance since it includes, and weights, every conceivable way of getting on base. The OwOBA is, in my opinion, a reasonable measure of defensive performance, primarily pitching.
What does this chart tell us? The gap between green and red trend lines shows that things settled down in late July and stayed that way pretty much until mid to late August. After that the offense starts to drop and the pitching had it problems until about the very end of August. Then the red trend starts sneaking downwards, a very good thing. What's afoot? Best guess? Chris Archer, Matt Moore, and Matt Torra have days good enough to influence the overall trend. That is, starting pitching got better.
Another way to look at essentially the same data is to plot the difference between the two wOBAs over time. What you want to see are two things: a difference that stays in the positive range and one that grows. Here we see the trend stalling out about 10 games ago. Why? Well, we can look at the chart above and see that it was a rare day for the Bulls' wOBA to get above .300. Essentially, Bulls hitting slacked off.
What does this tell us about the year? A lot.
First of all, the Bulls pitching made room for the Bulls hitting to win games. When that trend line crosses over, as it did in the last week of the season, you're losing games. And the Bulls were. But over the year, the green trend stays nicely above the red.
Secondly, 2010 really spoiled Bulls fans. For much of that year the Bulls hitting simply blew the opponents out of the park, plus the Bulls had better starting pitching and a slightly better bullpen.
What does it say about the playoffs? Not much. Unquestionably the Bulls are capable of winning it all, but in a short series a lot of micro-measures come into play. Recent hitting trends are not good. Recent pitching/defensive trends are very good. It could easily come down to tactical, on-the-spot decisions by Charlie Montoyo and company.