Monday, May 5, 2008

The Rockies' Hard Climb

Underrated Teams
1 - COL
2 - ATL
3 - CHW

Overrated Teams
30 - LAA
29 - KAN
28 - FLA

After an Ascension Day hiatus (Christi Himmelfahrt is a national holiday here in Germany), Baseball Playoffs Now is back in action with another edition of baseball's most underrated and overrated teams. All three overrated teams have been covered in recent entries, so we'll focus instead on three under-appreciated squads. This rating derives from each team's Baseball Playoffs Now power rating contrasted with their current record.

3. The White Sox, currently second in the AL Central, are ninth in quality wins against an average strength of schedule. Chicago's margin of victory is in the top 25% of the majors - yet they are still a game under .500. Trailing Minnesota by only 1.5 games, the White Sox have the potential to take the division lead - and quickly. Why? The Twins are the not-so-proud owners of Baseball Playoffs Now's "Worst in First" title, awarded to the lowest-rated team in first place in their division. In fact, BPN projects the White Sox to enter the postseason as a no. 3 seed, having won 90 games to Minnesota's 80.

2. By wins and losses only, the Atlanta Braves (at .500) rank only 17th in the majors. Looking at quality wins and analyses of runs scored and allowed, Atlanta earns 5th in baseball, albeit against the 4th-easiest schedule. By almost all accounts, the Braves are a completely average team - excepting their excellent margin of victory record, 3rd best in baseball. With a runs-scored to -allowed ratio of 1.345 to 1, third only to the power-hitting Diamondbacks and Cubs, we project Atlanta to run roughshod over the NL East, despite the fact that the Braves are currently in fourth place. While Atlanta is rated 6th in the National League (below the Mets), New York has pulled out too many close games to keep up the pace. Look for the Braves to take over.

1. Major League Baseball's most overrated team is the Colorado Rockies. Listing woozily at 12-19, the Rockies have a hard time preventing runs (0.796 runs scored for every 1 run allowed) and have to compete with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks for success in the West. Baseball Playoffs Now only projects Colorado to take 3rd in their division with 63 wins, so don't look for too many fireworks from this team (or a repeat of last season). But the Rockies are badly overrated, thanks to their poor record. Instead, look at their toughest schedule in baseball, an average ability to win close games, a sweep of #2 underrated Atlanta, and bright spots like a 13-5 victory at Arizona (#1-rated team in the big leagues). Even with a 12-19 record, the Rockies have nothing to be ashamed of. Don't be afraid to cheer on this underdog.

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