Comparing MLB year-to date

So JT and I are big baseball fans and baseball is a frequent topic on the radio. I decided to take a quick look at the results of the season so far, with a specific look at comparisons with this time last season. Let’s start with what is in all likelihood the most notable difference between last season and this season: the Boston Red Sox. On May 1, 2018 the Red Sox were 21-8 with a +62 run differential. On May 1, 2019 the Red Sox are 14-17 with a -23 run differential. While runs scored are down for them so far this year compared to last (-24), the bigger issue is in runs allowed, where they allowed 61 more than this time last year. So last year’s World Series Champ, and pretty much the wire-to-wire best team in baseball is not scoring as much and is allowing way more runs than last year. This is maybe good news for JT’s favorite team, the Yankees.

At 17-13 the Yankees are a bit behind last year’s pace of 19-10 on May 1. Their +34 run differential is also a bit behind the pace of last year which was +50. The Yankees are only down 10 runs scored and allowed 6 more runs scored so far so signs are pretty good there.

My team, the Cubs, are virtually the same as last year. They were 16-11 last year and are currently 16-12. The run differential is a bit better at +38 this year when it was +34 this time last year. The difference is that the Cardinals are doing really well right now, and the early season stars in Milwaukee came back to the pack. Milwaukee is one of three teams with a negative run differential and a winning record in the National League right now (the other two are the Mets and the Padres). In the American League there are no teams with negative run differentials and winning records right now.

So let’s talk about the Twins. Not because I want to, because let’s be honest, if they play the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs on which team would you place a bet? Right now the Twins are 17-10 with a +17 run differential, second lowest of any division leader at this point. Last year at this time the Twins were 9-16 with -39 run differential. The Twins scored almost 40 more runs at this point of the season compared to last season, and allowed almost 20 fewer runs.

So we are about 20% of the way through the baseball season with a few interesting story lines developing. From a statistical perspective I think tracking run differentials and winning percentage seems to be a pretty interesting one to watch. There are some teams that will need to either defy the odds over the remaining 80% of the season or turn around the trajectory on their run differential if they want to keep in contention.

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