Let's see, what should I write about? Any big Angels news out there? How about another post about Frankie Rodriguez and his pending free agency, or how cool Torii Hunter is? How about the addition of Mark Teixeira and how the Angels are a better team? Nah, I should probably write about something else, but what? Hmm, let me think...oh, I know how about the Angels being the 2008 WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS!
Okay, so it was kind of a letdown that the Angels had to wait until the outcome of the Seattle-Texas game to see if they had clinched the division, as it would have been nice to see the boys jumping around on the field after the last out of the game. Oh well, regardless of how it played out, the result is what's important, and that result is the Angels winning their fourth division title in 5 years! By clinching the division on September 10th, the Halos won the West in the shortest amount of games in the division's history. The previous record was September 17th, which they beat by a week. It's now time to take a day to celebrate and rest, and then to set out to achieve the next goal - home field advantage.
Rob Neyer is one of my favorite authors, and one of the main reasons I pay for ESPN's Insider service, but the title of his post today is, "Even with Teixeira, Angels not the best team". He bases his claim on Run Differential. The Angels' RD is +62, while the Red Sox (who he writes is the best team) RD is +155. That is a huge difference, but to completely ignore each team's win/loss record is stupid. If RD is the true indicator of a team's success then why keep track of wins? I've been following the comments to Neyer's post and there are two definite sides; those who think wins and losses are more important, and those who think stats are more important. I've written here more than once that I'm a self proclaimed "stathead", but not to the extent that it blurs the truth as to the outcome of the games. I like reviewing stats to see what happened and to use them to explain why. Some try to use stats to explain why something shouldn't have happened. As in this case; Neyer suggests the Angels aren't the best because they haven't outscored their opponents at the same rate as the Red Sox, completely ignoring each teams' record. Not to mention, how the Angels have completely dominated Boston when they've played each other. The Angels are 8-1 against the Chowds, while outscoring them 61 to 33. I don't care what should have happened, what should have happened has no bearing on the outcome. What actually happened is what's important, and what actually happened was the Angels kicked Boston's ass.
How do the Angels have the best record in baseball while having the 10th best run differential? I don't know, nor do I care. I only care that they have won the greatest number of games. But let's look into the numbers anyway (as of 9/11):
Projected win/loss using run differential:
By looking at the numbers, the Angels and Red Sox have virtually identical numbers in Runs Against (RA), which means the difference in the two teams is the number of runs scored. The have scored approximately 4.65 runs per game, and Boston has scored roughly 5.28 runs per game. About a half a run per game difference. How much of a difference will that half of a run make in a 5 (or 7) game series? I would say not much. The people who rely on Run Differential will never be convinced that it doesn't tell the entire story as it relates to the actual games being played, as with the people who dismiss Run Differential who don't think it matters. It does matter, but to me, it doesn't matter to the extent they think it does. The games aren't played on paper, and it's not a Strat-O-Matic league. And thankfully for Angel's fans it's played by real players on real fields.
- During yesterday's win against the Yankees, the Halo pitchers held the Bombers to just 4 hits. The bullpen went 4 strong innings, giving up 1 hit (by K-Rod), and Dustin Mosely pitched his best game of the season. A strong bullpen will be very important in the play-offs, and is something the Angels have been lacking the last couple weeks.
- Kind of funny, during the player's on field celebration after Texas lost in Seattle, Justin Speier worn Torii Hunter's jersey. I took it as Speier's way of showing respect to Hunter and what he's done for the team. In an article by Reuter's, they misidentified Speier as Hunter. So much for the accuracy of the mainstream press.
- Frankie Rodriguez recorded save number 56 yesterday and is now just one save shy of tying the single season record.
- The Halo Is Lit has a new contributor. Her name is Jill Stewart. Jill plans on posting her thoughts on the Angels, but from the girl's point of view. Hopefully you'll find what she has to write entertaining.
- No more magic number. Later when the play-offs start I'll post the new magic number, which starts at 11. Eleven is the number of games required to win the World Series (3 wins in the ALDS, 4 wins in the ALCS, and 4 wins in the World Series).