You may have seen the other day, MLBTradeRumors had an article asking if the Yankees were the favorites in the AL after their acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion. What was surprising to me is in the polling results, 51.21% (at the time of this writing) voted that yes they were in fact the AL Favorites.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Yankees are an excellent team, and they’ve managed to stay on top of the AL East which has notoriously been a strong division. but I figured I’d try to statistically check - and keep as much of my pro-Astros bias out of the equation.
Going to the most simplistic approach, let’s take a look at the top 5 team’s records.
Twins - 47-23 (.671)
Astros - 48-24 (.667)
Yankees - 43-27 (.614)
Rays - 43-28 (.606)
Rangers - (.535)
This gives a slight edge to the Twins, which is backed up by their Run Differential. Using Run Differential it would go #1 Twins (116), #2 Astros (102), #3 Rays (+97), #4 Yankees (+72), and #5 Red Sox (+49). This list feels much better. because ... come on .. the Rangers? Even at that, there is a large separation, with the Twins having a pretty significant lead after the Astros got crushed last night,
There’s a factor that’s not considered in both your record, and the runs scored? Which is the quality of opponent that you’re playing. I think everyone would agree it’s easier to win more games and have a better run differential against the Orioles than one of the 5 teams listed above. Here was a tweet that captured the average winning percentage of the teams:
Top-4 AL teams ranked by the avg winning % of their divisional opponents:— Tuve’s Tongue (@TuvesTongue) June 16, 2019
AL divisions ranked by avg winning %:
No. of divisional opponents with sub-.400 winning %:
There’s a few notable items here. The first one that should come to your attention is that the Astros have played a much harder schedule than any of the other remaining teams. Both of the second groupings of statistics support that notion and show the AL West to actually be the strongest division. We actually found the same thing last year when we did an article asking which was the strong division.
But, all of these statistics are based on what has occurred. The premise of the original poll was with adding Encarnacion, if the Yankees were NOW the favorites. Luckily for us, we can use an unbiased source (Fangraphs) who calculates everything from number of wins in the season, playoff odds, even World Series Championship odds. Their system is dynamic, so it would include the addition of Encarnacion. Here is where they have the expected W-L records and (Odds of making the Play offs) of each team:
Astros - 103.4 - 58.6 (99.9%)
Twins - 98.9 - 63.1 (97.9%)
Yankees - 96.7 - 65.3 (93.9%)
Rays - 94.4 - 67.6 ( 87.1%)
Red Sox - 91.4 - 70.6 (69.4%)
On top of that, the ranking based on % Chance to win the World Series is as follows:
Red Sox: 7.1%
The Astros are not only the favorites statistically from the AL, but they edge out the Dodgers (19.6%) as the favorite in baseball to win the World Series.
There’s still a lot of season to go, trades to be made, and other changes that will effect all of this. As of today though, No the Yankees are not the favorites. In my opinion, all stats show the Astros as the heavyweight in this.
Who do you believe is the favorites in the AL?
This poll is closed