Before the season began Pecota predicted the Jays to finish below .500%. I take the Pecota projections serious, and so does my fat bankroll over at Bet365. For the last three years I have been using the Pecota preseason standings prognostications to win a nice little sum of money betting on baseball season win totals. By only picking teams with a 4+ win/loss discrepancy, I have been just above 80% since I started doing this sort of thing. There were some sweet choices this season including the ChiSox under (line at 89 wins), Yankees under (97.5 wins) and D’backs over (78.5 wins). The one bet I refused to make was on the Jays, who Pecota predicted to go 78-84, which is way off the Vegas line of 87.5. Although I refused to bet against my Jays it appears Pecota is going to be closer to the actual record than Vegas will be. 130 games into the 2007 season, the Blue Jays record stands at .500, with 65 wins and the same number of losses. (Not including tonight’s game vs. the A’s). Of the 32 games left, 17 are against teams above .500, 15 are against teams below. 15 are at Home, 17 on the road. Coming down the stretch, for the Jays to finish at .500 is no guarantee. But I’m going to predict that anyway, an 81-81 finish, which are three games better than the infallible Pecota guesses.
Once taking a closer look at the numbers it is apparent that the process Pecota took to get to their totals was a lot different than how the Jays got there. Pecota predicted the Jays to score 804 runs this year, 74 runs more than the 730 the Jays are on pace to score. What is really surprising is that Pecota pegged the Jays to allow 830 runs this year, which is 146 more than the 684 the Jays are on pace to surrender (despite the loss of BJ Ryan).
Knowing this shit, I want to look at a couple of hypothetical situations. (Because hypothetical is all we got at this point, since BP gives us a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs- and I’m rounding up on that number). Hypothetical number one; What if the Jays performed to Pecota’s projection on offense this year while at the same time accomplished the same numbers defensively they have in actuality. Well, at this point in the year the Jays would have scored 645 runs to go along with the 549 they've allowed for a run differential of +95. You would think that a number like that would put us at the top of the AL and into the playoffs. Well yes and no. We would be at the top of the AL but no closer to the playoffs. At this time the BoSox have a staggering run differential of +183 to lead the AL (which would have been 35 runs less if I wrote this last Thursday). The Yankees sit second in the AL with a +157 differential. The next best team in baseball is the Angels at +75. So, the Jays would slide in right ahead of the Angels if the dream scenario took place. Yet because of the division we play in, it would mean no post season. In fact, according to BP’s Prospectus Hit list, which is some convoluted formula to figure out the best teams in MLB, the Jays finished 6th overall last year, behind the 4 AL playoff teams and the Mets. As recently as last week the Jays were 8th on the list for 2007.
Getting back to run differential, it is important to not be a Dick (Griffin) and to point out both sides of the coin. The team with the second best record in all of baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks, have accumulated their 74-57 record on the backs of a -32 run differential (Yes, the “-“ signifies “negative). As well, the 30 runs Texas scored against Baltimore last week was impressive but it was only one win, although it skewed the +/- differential for the season.
Regardless, whether run differential has any bearing on actual ability or not, one thing is clear. In order for the Jays to make it to the post season they need for one of Boston or New York to be out of it for 162 games (and not 100, like the Yankees were this year). Then they need to be as dominant with their pitching as they have been this year (I fully expect regressions for Marcum and Litsch next year due abnormally positive BABIP) and they need their offensive players to have, in the very, very least, seasons that match their career averages. It is then and –it hurts me to say- only then that the Jays can win a playoff birth. I fully expect this to happen in my lifetime and hope they win the World Series when it does, because getting back to the playoffs repeatedly will be a tough task. That is not to say the Jays are a poorly run team, add 40 million in payroll and they have the All-Star Shortstop, Catcher and SP they need to be on par with the Yanks and Sox. The truth is the deck is stacked against the Jays. It was last year, is this year, and probably always will be.
If that’s not negative enough for you, I will explain hypothetical number two I mentioned 700 words earlier. What if the Jays offense played like it has so far but their pitching played down to Pecota’s projections? Well, to this point, they would have scored 586 runs and given up 666 (oh it’s true, it’s damn you all to hell true) for a run differential of -80. That compares to Florida, Houston and Pittsburgh, which averages 57 wins and 73 losses. It’s 2004 all over again (hopefully with out the payoff being Ricky Romero).
Yes, there is that much of a fine line in baseball. I would think that the Jays are closer to the strong AL team than the bottom feeding team. Although the picture I have painted of the Jays is closer to a Patrick Bateman than a Robert, there is some hope for the future. Here is my weak list called “Why the Future is Bright”.
Why the Future is Bright list:
1. BP’s 3rd order wins this year places the Jays with the same record as the Angels, behind only the BoSox and Yankees in the AL.
2. Ted Rogers might have a little Steinbrenner “win before I die” in him. (Hello A-rod!)
3. Papelbon is shoulder surgery waiting to happen; Rivera’s a Free Agent.
4. 2005 =79 wins. 2006 = 87 wins. 2007 =81 wins??. 2008 = 90 wins? (I’m reaching here)
5. Why the fuck not?
Well that list sucked. But remember, I might be down in August but come December I’ll have you convinced how the recently signed Tad Iguchi is going to bring the Jays to the Promised Land.
I’m too drunk to post links and probably should spell check before I post, but what the fuck, it’s not like anyone reads this blog anyway. (And I’m not calling you a nobody John Brattain- well, maybe I am)