The surprising Pirates have a 2.5 game lead in their division. But the only reason the Pirates have a lead at all is because they have been the luckiest team in baseball.
We compared every team’s actual record to their expected record based on how many runs each team has scored and allowed. The chart below shows us all the teams that have either won at least 2.5 more games than expected (blue) or have lost at least 2.5 games more than expected.
The Tigers have been the unluckiest team and probably should be leading their division by more than two games. But we also see that the Pirates are lucky to have a 2.5 game lead over the Cardinals and a 6.0 game lead over the Reds.
Not only have the Pirates won 3.6 more games than expected, but the two teams directly behind them have been unlucky have won fewer games than expected. If each team played as expected, the Pirates would be in third place in their division, five games behind the Cards and three games behind the Reds…
* Win-loss records are not always the best indicator of how well a team is playing. To get a better sense, we can use run differential, or the difference between the number of runs scored and the number of runs given up. We can then use those numbers to calculate a record that is more reflective of how well that team played, using a formula called Pythagorean Win Percentage which tells us how many games a team should have won.
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