Tuesday, September 6, 2011

End of Season Charts — I

The regular season is over, so it's time to take a look at the path the Bulls took to get to the playoffs. Click on an individual chart to get a larger view.

The Bulls played 142 games this year instead of the usual 144 (a couple of days of storms up in Syracuse led to cancelled games that could not be made up). From Game 1 on April 7 down in Gwinnett County, Georgia until yesterday over in Norfolk, Virginia the Durham Bulls and the Gwinnett Braves were competing for the lead of the South Division of the International League. As recently as a few days ago Gwinnett had a shot. As it happened, up in the North Division the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) were on a run and grabbed the Wild Card berth.

All season long the Bulls have been running ahead of their Pythagorean Expectation. At the end of the year the Bulls won-loss was 80-62, 18 games above .500. If you crunch the runs scored - runs allowed numbers (much like the chart below) the "expectation" was 76-66, just 10 games above .500.

Why would the expectation run behind the actual? The conventional wisdom points to two factors at work: the bullpen and luck. You would think that over time luck should even out. And, as this next chart shows, the Bulls relievers have done a great job. This chart is the cumulative ERA since the IL's All-Star break (July 14).

I keep a similar set of base data for our friends down in St. Petersburg. The comparisons really aren't very meaningful, but it's still fun to take a look.

Unfortunately for the Rays, they are in the American League East. While the Bulls could win the IL South at 18 games over .500, the Rays aren't even close in the AL East at 14 games over .500. This is also the time that I get to point out that the Bulls, who started the season a week after the Rays, have played more baseball games (142) than the major league Rays (140). Why? They just work harder and get fewer days off.

The Rays runs scored - runs allowed graph is strikingly positive, however their "expected" won-loss (78-62) is running slight ahead of their actual (77-63). I don't pay that close attention to the Rays. Does this mean that their relievers haven't been doing their jobs? Have they been unlucky?

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