If been somewhat hesitant to post tonight's game thread because it seems at least somewhat unlikely that tonight's game will get played. Its been raining all day in Chicago (yesterday too) and that rain is supposed to continue through this evening. Of course, the odds are rather long that the game will be called anytime soon. No, MLB prefers to ask that 25,000 or so fans find their way to the park and settle in for two boring hours in a confined space. 'Cause you never know, the military might turn the weather machine on up north and the weather might clear. Anything to avoid the dreaded possibility of a doubleheader!
Beyond the possible Meche-Buehrle pitching matchup, what really excites us is the fact that the once mighty ChiSox will take the field tonight (or sometime) looking up at the Royals in the standings. Not only have the Royals passed the Sox in the real standings, in the adjusted standings it isn't even close. With just a -31 run differential, the Royals should actually be about three games better -- say, 58-65 -- while the Sox should be a little bit worse, as they've been outscored by 114 runs, the worst non Devil Ray mark in the American League.
On the other hand, because the Royals have been slightly solid with two-outs and men in scoring position (at least, I think this is the reason) the Royals have also outperformed their raw totals. Needless to say, its an odd statistical profile. I blame Buddy's aura of irrationality.
The Royals: Whats my record again?
Actual record: 55-68
Pythagenport record: 58-65
Second-order record: 52-72
Third-order record: 53-70
Again, all this data was crunched over at BP, and the explanations of each computation can be found there. The pythagenport record is from BP's tweaking of James's formula for using run differential to determine expected performance. The second-order record looks at composite batting lines instead of actual runs scored (so takes clutch/randonmess out of the equation) while third-order record factors in strength of opponent.
The idea isn't that these adjusted standings are more real than what happened in the world we live in, rather, that they might be more useful for predicting future performance. More or less, this is the difference between good and bad statistics (which is ofter also the same as a statistic from Stats Inc versus one from Elias); I already know what happened, tell me whats useful for thinking what will happen.
But to return to the matter at hand, if we want to take this battle for fourth seriously, here's what those numbers say:
Actual wins: advantage Royals
Pythagenport wins: advantage Royals (8 games)
Second-order wins: advantage Royals (1.5 games)
Third-order wins: advantage Royals (.9 games)
A month ago it appeared for all the world that the White Sox roster would be getting substantially worse, but in some ways thats not the case. Dye not only wasn't traded, he started to hit again and some dead weight on the pitching staff has been discarded. (If anyone wants to take a shot at a roster comparison, be my guest.) At the moment the Royals appear to have a slight but legitimate edge going forward, but certainly not enough that we can firmly predict a glorious 4th place finish.