Friday, 18 April 2008

I hate to do it . . .

. . . but I find myself in the position of taking issue with one of my fellow bloggers - for the first time (I expect I'll get used to it before long and will eventually embarrass myself doing so - It's my way).

Thursday morning, Jon over at The Mockingbird made reference to one of the enduring "myths" about the Jays - one referenced in turn by Rance Mulliniks in the previous nights broadcast. Jon takes issue with the oft-repeated complaint that the Jays "let down" against weaker teams and play tough against the better teams. The thing is, I don't think his analysis tells the whole story. On some points he's dead on (for instance, the Jays have virtually the same record over the last three years against Tampa Bay as the Yankees do) but the overall impression misses the mark a bit, I think.

The reason for this is that the complaint is often mentioned in a verbal shorthand form which confuses the meaning. People say "the Jays don't play well against the bad teams" which is not technically true. What they MEAN, and what they SHOULD say is that the Jays do not beat up on the bad teams the way that playoff teams should. And THAT complaint is absolutely valid.

During the 2005-2007 seasons, against all AL teams which finished that season with a sub-.500 record, the Jays won at a collective rate of .537 (.538 in 2007, .554 in 2006, .527 in 2005). So yes, they had a winning record against losing teams. BUT, let's see what our rivals did with the same opportunities. In the same period, against the same standard, the Yankees played a collective .629 ball and the Red Sox won at a .620 pace. Combined, they were at .625 - if the Jays had played .625 in those games they would have won 19 more games in that span (broken down by season, 7 more in 2007, 5 in 2006, and 7 in 2005).

I think anyone would consider that a very significant swing. So with all due respect to my friend Jon, yes, it is a legitimate complaint to observe the Jays do not run up the win total against vulnerable teams, collectively, in the same way that the Yankees and Red Sox do.

How about versus the AL teams with winning records? There's something interesting there too. Let me first acknowledge that for the sake of balance, I included the 2005 Jays, who were actually 80-82, in the group of "winning" teams that year. It made the analysis much cleaner. Since the record among the three teams was only one game off .500 this abbaration doesn't notably skew the results.

The interesting thing I found when it came to how the three teams played versus teams with winning records was this: over the three years in question the Jays have a slightly BETTER record against those teams than do the Red Sox. That is the case because in 2006, the Jays did MUCH better than the Red Sox against those teams. Collectively, on the three seasons, the Yankees were at .553, the Jays at .498, and the Red Sox at .479 against AL teams with winning records. So, again, as Jon rightly observes the Jays do not play great against winning teams. However, it can be fairly stated that they win enough of those games to be a contender IF they would rack up wins against the weaker sisters of the league.

Still, I can't wrap this up without slapping his back on one point upon which we can all agree - how cool is it to actually, ya know, look shit up before you mouth off about it. All the more so if you get paid for your comments. On the other hand, if everyone did that where would all our best blogging material come from?


No comments: