Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You Don't Want to Play the AL East Right Now

Baseball Playoffs Now releases today a new ranking called Teams to Watch, in essence a compendium of selections from our other statistics that show insight into a team's positive trends.

Qualifications to be a Team to Watch:
a. They cannot have a record in the top 25% in baseball, nor be #1 in their division. Everyone is already looking at those teams with great expectations.
b. They must have scored more runs than allowed.
c. They must have a high underrated value (i.e. have a better record-against-schedule than their current record).
d. Their playoff rating - stats which specifically deal with how teams win in the playoffs - must be in the top half in baseball.
e. They cannot be mired in a bad losing streak.

These are pretty restrictive qualifications, so it makes sense that only five teams can pass muster today:
1. Atlanta Braves
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. New York Yankees
5. Houston Astros

Atlanta has it all: a mediocre record compared with an efficient team on something of a hot streak. The Braves will move up at least one spot in the NL East, since Florida is showing all the bad signs of a team about to fall, and Atlanta will possibly climb to the top. Their scoring is so good that our playoff predictor places them in the division lead by September.

Tampa, Toronto, and New York (#9, #16, and #10 overall respectively) make up the thundering pack taking up the middle of the AL East. Despite hovering around .500, Baseball Playoffs Now would normally predict climbs for all of these teams - but since they are in the same division, one of them will probably take the fall. Our thoughts: Tampa Bay. The Yanks have excellent quality wins (7th in baseball in record v. schedule), and Toronto can score big (10th in the majors in runs-scored v. -allowed). That leaves the Rays as our AL East dropout - plus Baltimore, #2 on our list of who NOT to pick in the upcoming weeks (first place goes to Florida, the worst team over .500 in the bigs).

Last, the Astros completed a sweep of Milwaukee at home and move on to the wandering Nationals tonight. They're fifth on the watch list because of their scoring power against a really tough NL Central. Baseball Playoffs Now projects that Houston can win 85 games this season, more than the Brewers and enough to get into 3rd place in the division.

Bottom line: Atlanta, New York Yanks, and Toronto are moving up, Tampa Bay and Houston are holding their own, and Florida and Baltimore are about to start losing badly.

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