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In his AL Central preview, Alex noted that the Minnesota Twins like to beat the stuffing out of the bad teams, especially the ones in their own division. I thought the whole subject deserved a closer look.

The AL divides quite neatly into three groups. Four teams won 90+ games and went to the post-season. They are the Good teams.

Four teams lost 90+ games and went someplace dark and evil. They are the Bad teams.

The other six teams won 80 something games. They are the Medium teams. (I'll grant you that the Red Sox and White Sox, winners of 89 and 88 games respectively, were probably much closer to Texas than they were to Detroit. To which my retort is... well, I don't really have one. Sue me.)

So, here's everyone's record against the four good teams:

Team          W     L    Pct 

TAMPA BAY    19    13    .594
TORONTO    31    24    .564
NEW YORK    16    16    .500
MINNESOTA    12    12    .500
BOSTON    23    28    .451
ANGELS    19    24    .442
DETROIT    17    25    .405
BALTIMORE    21    33    .389
TEXAS    9    15    .375
OAKLAND    17    30    .362
SEATTLE    17    31    .354
CHICAGO    14    26    .350
KANSAS CITY  14    29    .326
CLEVELAND    12    29    .293

The 2010 Blue Jays played more games against the four 90 win teams than any other team in the league. It's a good thing they played this well (and a wee bit surprising, to me anyway - I had rather casually assumed that the biggest reason the Jays had won eight more games than they lost was the way they abused the Orioles all year long...)

Against the Medium teams:

Team          W     L     Pct

TAMPA BAY    41    27    .603
BOSTON    29    21    .580
MINNESOTA    38    28    .576
NEW YORK    38    30    .559
CHICAGO    28    23    .549
DETROIT    26    22    .542
TEXAS    40    36    .526
CLEVELAND    36    36    .500
OAKLAND    24    26    .480
TORONTO    22    28    .440
BALTIMORE    30    39    .435
ANGELS    24    33    .421
KANSAS CITY  28    40    .412
SEATTLE    21    50    .296

They Jays' struggles here are to some degree the result of my Executive Decision to regard the Red Sox as a Medium team (well, ask them - they didn't think it was a Good year.) The Jays went 6-12 against the Bostons...

Against the Bad Teams:

Team          W     L     Pct

NEW YORK    30    14    .682
OAKLAND    32    15    .681
MINNESOTA    36    18    .667
TAMPA BAY    29    15    .659
TORONTO    25    14    .641
TEXAS    27    17    .614
ANGELS    26    18    .591
CHICAGO    31    22    .585
SEATTLE    14    11    .560
BOSTON    24    19    .558
CLEVELAND    16    15    .516
KANSAS CITY  17    16    .515
DETROIT    27    27    .500
BALTIMORE    8    13    .381

The Twins were very good against the Bad teams, but the Yankees were even better. The Twins, of course, got to play an additional 10 games against lousy teams.

Admire the logic of Tampa Bay - they played .594 against the Good teams, .603 against the Medium teams, and .659 against the Bad teams. (The Other League pushed them around a bit, but we should start getting used to that.) It's the type of symmetry you would expect. You also see it from the Yankees (.500/.559/.682). In fact, eight of the 14 teams followed this pattern - better against the Medium teams than the Good ones, and better against the Bad teams than the Medium ones.

The exceptions? Boston and Detroit (both played better against the Medium teams than the Bad ones); the Angels (were a shade better against Good teams than Medium teams); Seattle and Toronto (played quite a bit better against the Good teams than they did against the Medium teams); Baltimore (completely backwards - lousy against the Good teams, even worse against the Medium teams, and worse still against the Bad ones).

And finally, against the Other League:

Team         W     L   Pct

CHICAGO    15    3    .833
TEXAS    14    4    .778
BOSTON    13    5    .722
ANGELS    11    7    .611
DETROIT    11    7    .611
NEW YORK   11    7    .611
SEATTLE    9     9    .500
KANSAS CITY  8    10    .444
MINNESOTA    8    10    .444
OAKLAND    8    10    .444
BALTIMORE    7    11    .389
TAMPA BAY    7    11    .389
TORONTO    7    11    .389
CLEVELAND    5    13    .278
The Blue Jays have struggled against the NL for a long time (in the past ten seasons, they've had a winning record against the NL twice, in 2003 and 2006 when they went 10-8).  And of course, the gap between the two leagues is narrowing quickly. Which probably means they'll finally turn that around...
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Alex Obal - Sunday, March 20 2011 @ 11:02 PM EDT (#231531) #
Interesting. The sample is kind of tiny, so I'm not going to read anything into it, but it's a start.

Myself, I'd consider New York, Tampa and Boston the good teams, and KC, Cleveland and Seattle the bad ones. It probably wouldn't change much.
AWeb - Monday, March 21 2011 @ 08:48 AM EDT (#231537) #

I wonder if there is anything helpfully predictive about this sort of thing - is overperforming against bad teams or good teams or mediocre teams more likely to point to a team that will do better the next year? I would guess that it doesn't matter, and that total record is far more important, but it could be interesting to dig up somewhere.

Maybe I would like interleague play more if the Jays would have a good year in it...and I know it's here to stay, but it's so blah now. It feels like exhibition games breaking out in the middle of the year. The NL division that has to face the AL East would seem to be at a distinct disadvantage for the wildcard too, although I guess it cycles through everyone except the "natural" rivalries.

Mike Green - Monday, March 21 2011 @ 09:29 AM EDT (#231538) #
The unbalanced schedule makes it difficult to divide the league into three groups.  Personally, I'd have it as Good- Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Jays, Twins and Rangers; Medium- A's, Angels, Tigers and White Sox, and Bad- Mariners, Orioles, Royals and Indians.   The Jays were a better club than the Tigers or White Sox last year, and those two are at the top of the medium group. 
Forkball - Monday, March 21 2011 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#231540) #
If you move the Red Sox to the 'Good' teams the Jays are 1 game over .500 and then .500 against the average teams.

It's those NL games that are the killer.

bpoz - Monday, March 21 2011 @ 12:10 PM EDT (#231546) #
Great work Magpie!! This is a great skill you have.

If I remember correctly, it seems to me that some teams play badly or well against specific teams.

Way back Milwaukee always seemed to do better than they should against the Jays. Then when the Rays were earning all those #1 draft picks, they still seemed to handle the Jays. I also found Florida Marlins beat the Jays a lot. Bad inter league results as mentioned.

But the Jays handled the NYY quite well in their history. Also it seemed that the visiting team beat the home team more.
So based on these observations of mine, I always look at the last month of the schedule. This year I like the schedule, only 3 games with TB.
Lylemcr - Tuesday, March 22 2011 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#231596) #

Very interesting. 

It is great that they did so well against the top teams, the Jays need to beat the Red Sox and Yankees in order to contend.

I wonder if the Jays aggressive hitting can work against them.  Magpie, could you do this with just offense and with just defense?   My suspicion is that offense is struggling. 

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