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Decoding the MLB Standings After the First 2 Weeks

It's been an interesting start to the new season of baseball in 2013. Some teams we expected to do well are doing well (Braves, Tigers), the teams we expected to do bad are doing bad (Miami, Houston), some teams we expected to do well aren't doing so well (Angels, Reds, Blue Jays), and some teams we expected to do bad are doing well (Athletics, Mets, Red Sox). As we take a look into the standings, it seems like it all comes down to run differential: the number of runs scored minus the number of runs given up. The teams with mediocre RD are in the middle of the pack, while the teams with exceptional RD are out in front. 

Before I get into RD by league, I'll give a quick reference to the stigmas given to each league. It's said that the AL is a hitter's league, and the NL is a pitcher's league, and so far that has proven to be true, but only marginally. The 15 teams in the AL have scored 728 runs, 25 more runs than the 15 teams in the NL could muster. The NL teams have given up 692 runs, 47 less runs than the AL. We see a (-)11 RD in the AL, and a +11 RD in the NL. Simply put, the AL is scoring more and the NL is pitching better. No surprise there. The AL teams are scoring 4.36 runs/game, .10 better than the NL, and the NL teams are giving up 4.19 runs/game, .28 runs less/game than the AL. 

Now, for the breakdown in run differential:

American League

Total RD by division: 

East: +2 Best: Boston (+16), Worst: Toronto (-19)

Central: -13 Best: Detroit (+12), Worst: Minnesota (-18)

West: Even Best: Oakland (+30), Worst: Los Angeles (-22) 

Best Scoring Teams by Division (runs scored):Best Pitching Teams by Division (runs allowed)

East: New York (57): Boston (32)

Central: Detroit (58): Kansas City (39) 

West: Oakland (73): Texas (35) 

Worst Scoring Teams by Division (runs scored): Worst Pitching Teams by Division (runs allowed) 

East: Tampa Bay (33): Toronto (64) 

Central: Chicago (39): Minnesota (58) 

West: Los Angeles (40): Los Angeles (62)

National League

Total RD by division: 

East: +14 Best: Atlanta (+30), Worst: Miami (-25)

Central: -9 Best: St. Louis (+28), Worst: Milwaukee (-27)

West: +6 Best: Arizona (+16), Worst: San Diego (-28) 

Best Scoring Teams by Division (runs scored):Best Pitching Teams by Division (runs allowed)

East: New York (69): Atlanta (23)

Central: St. Louis (66): St. Louis (38) 

West: Arizona/Colorado (63): Los Angeles (32) 

Worst Scoring Teams by Division (runs scored): Worst Pitching Teams by Division (runs allowed) 

East: Miami (19): Philadelphia (57) 

Central: Milwaukee (32): Milwaukee (59) 

West: San Diego (38): San Diego (66) 

Some people may be looking at this going, "Well yeah, a better run differential equals better record", but that isn't always the case. A team can go 5-1 with a -10 RD if they won all 5 games 1-0 but lost their one game by 15. What Rd does let us see is the strengths and weaknesses of each team. While the Yankees are the top scores in the AL east, they are only 5-5 because their pitching isn't picking up with the hitting. 

Altogether, the league is very close as of now. The only standout teams so far are the surprising Athletics and the usually strong Braves. As the season progresses, we'll get a better picture on how each league stacks up against the other in hitting and pitching. 

Hope this game you a unique perspective on the league!


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