Assorted Team Notes for 2005

With a look ahead to 2006


By Keith Glab, 12/07/05


It’s amazing, the things you can notice just by browsing the Baseball Evolution Standings Page.  Here are some statistical observations for a dozen teams:


AL East


New York Yankees

          New Yorkers everywhere bemoaned the Yankee pitching staff this year, citing it as the main reason for their poor start and nearly costing them the AL East crown for the first time since 1997.  Yes, their pitching really wasn’t all that good, but it may surprise some people to know that these 2005 Yankees allowed 19 fewer runs than their 2004 counterparts.  Perhaps that’s why experts believe that New York will stand pat with their rotation for 2006, instead focusing on a new CF and middle relief (They just signed Kyle Farnsworth to a 3-year deal).


AL Central


Chicago White Sox

          Sox fans new and old celebrated this week as Jim Thome joined Paul Konerko to create a lefty/righty tandem capable of matching the production of the David Ortiz /Manny Ramirez duo in Boston over the past two years.  A strong left-handed presence in the middle of the order is exactly what the club has needed for years, right?  Perhaps, but would you believe that despite the Sox’ righty-heavy lineup finished the season barely over .500 against southpaws?  Chicago finished 35 games over .500 against right-handed pitching (80-45 .640) but just one game over against lefties (19-18 .514).


Minnesota Twins

          For the first time since 2001, the Minnesota Twins failed to win the AL Central Division, and they need look no further than their offense to determine why.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who were so disappointing last year that Lou Pinella walked out on them, scored 62 more runs last year than the Minnesota Twins did.  That explains the Twins’ trade for Luis Castillo, who, if he even approaches his .391 OBP of last year, would be the best leadoff hitter the team has had since Chuck Knoblauch in 1996.  The Twins are also rumored to be interested in Frank Thomas.  


Kansas City Royals

          The Royals are really bad, averaging 57 wins over the past two seasons.  But has anyone noticed just how bad they are on the road?  About ten games worse per season.  They’re 47-116 over the past two seasons, which makes for a .288 winning percentage over a 163-game spread.  There’s not much help on the horizon, either, as ESPN’s Peter Gammons reports that GM Allen Baird has no intention of trading young Zach Greinke for even Austin Kearns-level talent.  Yes, he meant the Zach Greinke who went 5-17, 5.80 and allowed 233 hits in 183 innings last year.


AL West


Oakland Athletics

          Whether it’s Zito/Mulder/Redman, or Zito/Harden/Kennedy, the A’s are often identified by having some of the best left-handed starters in the league.  In fact, the rest of the lefty starters in baseball don’t impress the A’s one bit, since the team went 26-13 (.667) against them last year.  The rest of the AL West had to face Oakland’s lefties quite often, and compiled a combined 55-69 (.443) record against league left-handers.  Full seasons from Rich Harden and Joe Kennedy could perhaps vault the 2006 A’s back atop the AL West.


Seattle Mariners

          Last offseason, The Mariners added sluggers Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre after having swapped Freddy Garcia for two exciting young hitters (Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed) during that summer.  So nearly everybody thought, “Hey, these Mariners are going to score some runs!  I just hope their pitching can hold up.”

          Of course what happened is that their offense scored just one more run than it had in 2004, while their pitching staff improved dramatically, allowing 72 fewer runs than their 2004 counterparts.  It will be interesting to see whether Seattle addresses its supposedly good offense or supposedly bad pitching staff more this offseason.



NL East


Philadelphia Phillies

          In Billy Wagner’s two statistically dominant seasons with the Phillies, Philadelphia finished a total of 24 games over .500 (174-150 .537).  The franchise has not had a two-year run as impressive since the 1982-83 seasons (179-145 .552), which featured excellent seasons for closers Al Holland and Ron Reed.

          So are the Wagnerless Phils in trouble for 2006?  Not necessarily.  Firstly, if the 38-year old risk Flash Olden can’t cut the cornbread, then Ryan “Mad Max” Madson can certainly step in to help.  He’s just 25, and a career 15-8, 3.25 134/44 type of reliever.  He’s mad, he’s mad!  But the Phillies are glad… that they have him.  Secondly, the Phillies are just one game over (54-53 .505) in one-run games during Wagner’s tenure, so the aggregate bullpen still had room for improvement.


New York Mets

          The Mets are ostensibly the most improved team of the offseason so far, and they will be picked by many to win the NL East (though not me, since I decided last year that I was sick of picking against the Braves and losing).  One thing that Yankees’ brass always worries about when they acquire a new player is, “how will this guy fare under the pressure of playing in New York?”  Not so with the Mets, who must ask, “how will this guy handle the pressure of being on a New York team and getting booed in opposing stadiums?”  The Mets were an impressive 48-33 at home but just 35-46 away from Shea last year.


NL Central


Houston Astros

          I wrote a lot about both the White Sox and the Astros during the postseason.   But I never noticed the thing that the teams most have in common.  As I noted for the White Sox earlier, the Astros are a right hand-heavy lineup which inexplicably fares better against right-handed pitchers.  In 2005, they went 70-51 (.579) versus righties and 19-22 (.463) against lefties.


Milwaukee Brewers

          Contrastingly, the Brewers fared much better against the southpaws (22-16 .579) than their right-handed counterparts (59-66 .472) despite three of their four top players in OPS (Geoff Jenkins .888, Russell Branyan .868, and Lyle Overbay .816) are lefties themselves.  By the way, if you think that Carlos Lee was the other top OPS Brewer, think again.  Infielder Bill Hall (.837) beat him pretty soundly (.811).  Also, in Carlos’ career, he’s slugged 56 points better against righties.  Weird stuff.


NL West


Arizona Diamondbacks

          The Arizona Diamondbacks finished second in the NL West despite posting a sub-.400 Pythagorean Winning % (.395).  This has never happened before in the three-division format.  I doubt that it has ever happened in the history of the game, but if you can find such a season, please let us know about it.

          These D’Backs also have the distinction of having a road record off 41-40 (.506) as compared to their home record of 36-45 (.444).  This means that their road record was better than that of the Blue Jays, Twins, Rangers, Mets, Marlins, Nationals, Astros, Brewers, Padres, and tied with the Red Sox.  Only seven of the 17 teams who finished with a better record than Arizona also finished with a better road record than them.


San Francisco Giants

          The Giants have historically been better against lefty pitchers (The went 32-18 .640 against them in 2004 vs. 59-53 .527 against righties) because Barry Bonds could still hit lefties really well (1.000 career OPS against them) and they had a right-hand dominant lineup otherwise.  In 2005, despite having Barry for just 14 games, the eteam failed to find another left-handed threat in their lineup, and it showed in the standings.  The Giants went two games over .500 against southpaw starters (19-17 .528) but finished just 56-70 (.444) against righties.  Maybe management should spring for another left-handed insurance bat for ’06, that is, if they have any money left what with the ridiculous amounts still owed to the likes of Mike Matheny, Omar Vizquel, and Moises Alou.   


Learn more fun facts about your favorite teams when we premiere our 2006 Team Previews this spring.  View our 2005 Previews and see how on-target we were.