When spring training opened, one of my colleagues and I were chatting about the AL East. Living as we do near Toronto,
we gave voice to our woe
at having a tough row to hoe
in our division, with the BEASTS
of the EAST.
'And,' said my chum, 'now there's the Rays.' 'Yes,' I said, 'but they might not do so well this season.' 'Really?' he queried, giving me an odd look. I started to explain the Bill James' notion of the Plexiglass Principle, of how a team that goes from a season of many losses to one of many wins may spring back again in the third season. But our meeting began, and he probably thinks I'm some kind of genius. (We haven't met in recent weeks.)
I'll be the first to say I'm no genius. (Check out my Ross Detwiler prediction for proof.) However, I'm kind of pleased that someone might think otherwise.
That said, what is up with the Rays? They've reached .500 with today's game, so maybe this post will quickly be overtaken by events, but we can still analyse a slow start and hope it becomes relevant to return to in September.
Let's run some numbers like I did the other day for the Jays and the Royals.
Versus teams under .500, the Rays are 11-14.
Versus teams over .500, the Rays are 9-6.
When they score only two runs or less, the Rays are 0-8.
When they score three, four or five runs, the Rays are 4-10.
When they score six runs or more, the Rays are 16-2.
It's pretty basic. It's the Rays' pitching that is at the root of their problem. They have to score at least six runs to have a chance at a win (which they've done quite a few times, actually), and that's like a run and a half over the average.
So, keep an eye on those pitching stats, if you're a fan of an AL East team. If the team ERA starts coming down, those Rays may have deathly effects on the ambitions of the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays.