Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LA Angels Not *That* Divine

Established baseball ranking sources are showing a tendency to overrate the Angels (#16 in our ratings). Here's the rundown:
Gridmarks placed Los Angeles at no. 11.
TeamRankings and AOL Sports gave them seventh place.
CBS and FOX Sports think LA is fourth-best.
Last week's ESPN Power Rankings awarded the Angels third place.
Only Coaches' Corner agrees with us: 16th is the best spot for Los Angeles.

There is no way Los Angeles is even in the top quarter of MLB teams:

Runs scored v. allowed is at a ratio of 1.047 to 1, fourteenth-best in baseball. The Angels' two major competitors score and defend much better (Seattle 1.117 to 1, Oakland 1.396 to 1; tenth-best and second-best in baseball, respectively).

Los Angeles has indeed scored an impressive number of quality wins (fifth place in the MLB) but against the 26th-easiest schedule in the majors. Their quality RPI (record + strength of schedule) is 14th.

Score analysis places the Angels in 18th place, taking into account every run scored/allowed against an infinite strength-of-schedule algorithm.

Los Angeles has a slightly-better-than-average record against a slightly-worse-than-average division (7-6 against the 4th-best division), rated 16th in division play.

In every single metric, the Angels are a middle-of-the-road team. That is why our Overrated Scale places Los Angeles squarely as the second-most-overrated team in baseball. Sportswriters love them because their stats are good and the names are big, and it's easy to concentrate on 17 wins (tied for second-most in baseball) and forget about how the Angels got there.

As always, if Los Angeles can capture a division championship or wild-card spot, the journey to the postseason becomes moot. But Baseball Playoffs Now projects not only a 87-75 final record for the Angels, but a third-place finish in a four-team division (Oakland is on pace for 104-58 and Seattle can make 88-74). Unless Los Angeles can win big upcoming series hosting Oakland (now) and a tough road trip to Seattle and Oakland (6 division road games in 7 days) in early June, the Angels will have a tough time making it to the All-Star break intact.

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