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Strength Of Schedule

Earlier today I went off scanning The Book Blog, as I am wont to do on occasion. Seventeen hours later, while reading a thread about the CHONE team projections, I stumbled upon this comment, which used the team forecasts to come up with strength of schedule figures for every team in baseball. The number reported is the ratio of projected wins with a neutral schedule to projected wins with the actual schedule. A team with an easier schedule would get a number below 1. A team with a harder schedule would get a number above 1. The Mariners came in at 1.05, third highest in baseball.

Here's how ESPN would handle this:

Mariners Face Most Difficult Schedule In Division

The Seattle Mariners, considered by many to be the favorites in the AL West, don't only have to deal with the Rangers, Angels, and Athletics. They also have to deal with the hardest schedule of the group. A mathematical forecast identifies the Mariners' schedule as being the most challenging in their division, with assignments including three games in St. Louis, six in New York, and six in Tampa Bay. If the Mariners are to fulfill their preseason promise, they will have to do so while navigating a minefield of intense competition. Texas, meanwhile, has the easiest schedule in the West, opening the door for Ryan's Rangers to arrive on the big stage perhaps a year sooner than expected.

Here's how I would handle this:

One Projection System Says Mariners Face Incrementally Steeper Climb Than Competition

So CHONE has the Mariners as facing something like a 3% more difficult schedule than the Rangers, which is interesting. Doesn't come as much of a surprise; Texas faces Chicago, Pittsburgh, Florida, Milwaukee, and Houston(x2) in interleague play, while Seattle faces St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, and San Diego(x2). St. Louis, San Diego and Cincinnati make for a tougher twelve games than Pittsburgh, Houston and Florida. That's the bulk of the difference, as the rest probably evens out. Though Seattle faces what looks like a slightly greater challenge, however, given the timing of events and the unpredictability of deviation from what's expected, we can't take this to mean very much, as actual strength of schedule depends entirely on the active rosters on any given day. And in the end, this is all much ado about very little, as the difference we're looking at here over the span of a 162-game season is quite small.

I'll never run with the big dogs.