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Best Pitching Units by tRA, 2008.5

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We're roughly half way through 2008 and we just took a look at 2007, so let's see how teams are faring thus far this season shall we?

First off, some league wide numbers to provide that oak-casked, hoppy context. Word of warning though, the run and out constants have not been updated in over a month, so these are the slightest bit off, as you can tell by the cumulative figure for O-xO. The system is currently expected too few expected outs which means that once adjusted, the overall tRAs will go down a skosh.

Entry O-xO xO xR tRA
NL - SP -55 23231 4155 4.83
NL - RP -43 12869 2105 4.42
AL - SP 141 20868 3607 4.67
AL - RP 17 10328 1629 4.26
Table 1: 2008 tRA Figures

O-xO = Outs - eXpected Outs: A positive number means more outs were record than the underlying numbers would suggest (good luck). A negative number means the opposite.

Offense and scoring is down league wide so far this year, which isn't much of a surprise since it's usually down at the start of the season and peaks in the hot July and August months which we haven't gotten to yet. Nonetheless, the average MLB hitter had a .758 OPS in 2007 and so far through 2008 it stands at .740, a hefty drop. While both leagues are down offensively, it's the AL that has seen the bigger drop as you can see here in the respective tRAs.

This effect is only magnified in reality by the opposite polarity in the O-xO column for the AL against the NL. By the lower tRAs we see that AL pitching should be doing better at run prevention than their NL brethren and with the AL seeing many more outs than expected on top of that, we'd expect to see run prevention much improved in the AL. Indeed, AL teams are surrendering 4.44 runs per game while their NL counterparts are up at 4.63.

BEST ROTATIONS IN 2008

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks, 3.73
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers, 4.09
  3. Toronto Blue Jays, 4.09
  4. Chicago White Sox, 4.13
  5. Oakland Athletics, 4.19

This seems like a grab bag of teams based on actual MLB standings, but take a look at their expected wins according to BaseRuns: 86, 81, 87, 97 and 92. Those are hefty numbers and should be good enough to land at least two in the postseason were they to play to those records.

WORST ROTATIONS IN 2008

  1. Texas Rangers, 5.70
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates, 5.66
  3. Baltimore Orioles, 5.56
  4. Florida Marlins, 5.23
  5. Cincinnati Reds, 5.20

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are the only two truly terrible teams on this list as Texas and Florida make up for their loathsome starters with tremendous offense and the Orioles with good defense. Worst to first is nearly two runs per game which is a fantastic amount.

BEST BULLPENS IN 2008

  1. Chicago White Sox, 3.25
  2. Atlanta Braves, 3.57
  3. Philadelphia Phillies, 3.61
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers, 3.63
  5. Boston Red Sox, 3.80

The White Sox and Dodgers appear on both best of lists which is pretty telling why Chicago is where they are and just how bad the Dodger's offense has been to keep them from running away with the pathetic NL West.

WORST BULLPENS IN 2008

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates, 5.36
  2. Texas Rangers, 5.14
  3. Milwaukee Brewers, 5.12
  4. St. Louis Cardinals, 5.02
  5. Cleveland Indians, 4.99

The Pirates and Rangers again appear 1-2 on the worst list though they swap spots this time around. That's remarkably horrific when you consider it. The Brewers are feeling the loss of Francisco Cordero for sure while the Indians at least finally made the move to cut Joe Borowski out of their life. Worst to first here is comfortably over two runs a game.

Seattle ranks near the bottom of the pack with a SP tRA of 5.13 and right about average in baseball (though below average in the AL) with a bullpen tRA of 4.35.