Jul 262013
 

I was reading a Paul Krugman analysis comparing the Detroit bankruptcy to the struggles of Pittsburgh in the 1980’s and 1990’s. As far as that goes, it was pretty simplistic. There are way too many causes for Detroit’s Chapter 9 to detail in a short post like Krugman’s. The comments take him to task for shallow analysis and as someone who has spent many hours defending my hometown, I get the sensitivity of Detroiters regarding their city’s dire situation.

However, I couldn’t let this comment pass. Arbitrot writes:

I don’t want to be testy, but as a native Detroiter I’d like us all to focus a bit here.
The Tigers currently leads the toughest division in the Majors by a game and a half, while the Pirates are two games back in the League’sd wussiest division — and dropping.
I mean, the Cardinals leading the division, without Albert Pujols? What’s that all about?

Wussiest? The NL Central has produced two World Series winners in the past decade. The AL Central is 1-2, with one of those losses being the Cardinals over the Tigers. As far as dropping – both the Pirates and Tigers are 6-4 in their last 10 games.

The NL Central is home to the two top records in MLB – St. Louis and Pittsburgh. You have to go down to #13 to find the 2nd place AL Central team.

Ranking Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
1 St. Louis 62 37 0.626 32-17 30-20 495 353 142 Won 4 7-3
2 Pittsburgh 60 40 0.600 2.5 32-18 28-22 389 340 49 Lost 1 6-4
3 Boston 61 42 0.592 3 34-19 27-23 519 431 88 Lost 1 5-5
4 Tampa Bay 60 42 0.588 3.5 34-19 26-23 475 407 68 Won 1 8-2
5 Oakland 59 43 0.578 4.5 30-16 29-27 451 392 59 Lost 1 5-5
6 Cincinnati 59 44 0.573 5 32-17 27-27 461 373 88 Won 2 7-3
7 Atlanta 57 45 0.559 6.5 31-15 26-30 443 368 75 Lost 1 4-6
8 Detroit 56 45 0.554 7 29-19 27-26 509 410 99 Lost 1 6-4
9 Baltimore 57 46 0.553 7 29-20 28-26 491 458 33 Lost 3 6-4
10 Texas 56 46 0.549 7.5 29-24 27-22 428 410 18 Lost 1 3-7
11 NY Yankees 54 48 0.529 9.5 28-23 26-25 395 399 -4 Won 1 4-6
12 LA Dodgers 53 48 0.525 10 27-24 26-24 409 405 4 Lost 1 7-3
13 Cleveland 53 48 0.525 10 30-19 23-29 479 443 36 Won 1 6-4

In fact, the 3rd place team in the AL Central (KC) is under .500 whereas the 3rd place team in the NL Central (Cincinnati) would leave the vaunted Tigers by 1 game.

Let’s look at a different type of analysis. ESPN publishes MLB Divisional Power Rankings each month. Here’s the rankings at the beginning of July.

MLB Divisional Power Rankings
Division Avg Points Rank
AL East 64.4 1
NL Central 53 2
AL West 44 3
NL West 43.6 4
AL Central 40.8 5
NL East 32.6 6

ESPN’s formula:

… made up of four variables that measure team and divisional strength: ESPN.com power rankings, non-divisional win percentage, strength of schedule and individual player rankings. Based on the four variables, each team receives a score from 4 to 120 (1-30 for each variable). The total score of each team in a division is added together then divided by five, which is the number of teams in a division.

Listen, we have nothing against the Tigers here in Pittsburgh. Jimmy Leyland was the last Pirates manager to lead the franchise to a .500+ record and the playoffs. The Tigers are a formidable team and we can only hope to have the type of baseball success in Pittsburgh that Detroit has experienced recently. But to assert that the AL Central, with Cleveland and KC in 2nd and 3rd place, is better than the AL Central or even the AL East is preposterous.

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