With the 2018 season in the books, err… well, at least the standard 162 games in the books, I was curious to examine each team’s record in light of their strength of schedule. Now, this can be a tricky and even controversial exercise. There are different ways to determine each team’s talent level.
For simplicity’s sake, I decided to just use each team’s 2018 record as an indicator of their talent level. You could also use each team’s run differential or ELO rating from fivethirtyeight, but this was my analysis and I chose to use 2018 win-loss record.
Below you will find each team’s win total at the end of the regular season, the average winning percentage of the opponents they faced throughout the season, and their adjusted wins. The playoff teams are in bold and happen to be the top ten teams with the most wins (not a huge surprise).
Opp. Win %
I used the following formula to calculate adjusted wins:
Adj Wins = Wins x Opp Win Pct x 2
I multiplied by 2 so that if a team’s opponents had a .500 winning percentage (neither good nor bad), that team’s adjusted wins would be the same as their actual wins.
To help make this method more clear, let’s examine two teams with the same number of actual wins. The Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians both won 91 games. However, the Rockies opponents had an average winning percentage of .500, while the Indians opponents had an average winning percentage of 0.469 (due to the fact that AL Central teams were just awful this year).
Given their strengths of schedule, 91 wins sounds a bit more impressive for the Rockies than it does for the Indians. So while the Rockies adjusted win total matches their actual win total of 91, the Indians adjusted win total is only 85.
In fact, the Indians are the team whose win total went down the most after adjusting for strength of schedule. They had the easiest schedule according to this measure, which isn’t surprising given that everyone else in their division finished at least 6 games below .500.
If we sort the table based on Adjusted Win total, we get the results below. WARNING TO SEATTLE AND TAMPA BAY FANS: The table below might stir up feelings of bitterness and resentment.
Opp. Win %
The playoff teams are in bold again, but they aren’t the top 10 this time, with both the Braves and Indians coming in behind some teams that didn’t make the playoffs.
Also note that while the Red Sox adjusted win total is 3 less than their actual wins, they still maintained the top spot. The Yankees also lost 3 wins after adjusting for strength of schedule, but remained in the #3 spot. In fact, the top 4 spots remain unchanged.
The Rangers and Orioles were the teams with the hardest strength of schedules according to this measure. This makes sense since they were the worst teams in the two divisions that featured the top 4 teams.
As far as the Astros, they had a pretty average strength of schedule according to this measure. I’m a bit surprised to be honest, because the AL West was a pretty good division this year; if the Angels had won just one more game, than the Rangers would have been the only sub-.500 team in the division. The Astros did get to play 7 games against both the Orioles and the White Sox though.
Like I said, this is only one way to measure strength of schedule and perhaps not even the best one. I think it does a good job, though, since it doesn’t really mess with the standings too much. The Indians are actually the only team with a difference of more than 3 between their actual wins and adjusted wins.
What do you think? Are you surprised by these results?