The Philadelphia Phillies have the best record in baseball at 43-28, and the largest lead in any division (5 games). And in the American League, the Red Sox are tops at 43-28, and hold 1.5 game lead over the Yankees in the East.
But sometimes, a team’s record is not the best indication of how well they have played. And if a team has been a little lucky early in the year, the standings may show a market correction moving forward.
To get a sense of which teams have played the best do far, we can use run differential, or the difference between the number of runs scored and the number of runs given up.
We can even use those numbers to calculate a record that is more reflective of how well that team played, using a formula called Pythagorean Win Percentage. In the chart below, every team is ranked by their Pythagorean (expected) Win Percentage.
Numbers above the bars represent that team’s expected number of wins. In other words, that is the number of wins the team probably should have based on how often they score runs and how well they keep opponents off the scoreboard. Records inside the bars are each team’s actual record…
As we near the All-Star break, the Yankees have played the best baseball in either league with an expected record of 44-26, three games better than their actual record (41-29). In other words, the Yankees have been unlucky and are better than their record would indicate.
The Yankees are followed by the Red Sox, with a Pythag record (43-28) identical to their actual record, and the Phillies who have actually played a game better (45-28) than their Pythag record (44-29).
There is also a pretty steep drop from the Phillies at number three, and the rest of the field.
There is still a long ways to go, but so far, there is little doubt that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies are the class of baseball.
* All data via Baseball-Reference.com
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