Divisional Winning Percentage

With the frenetic pace set by the top three teams in the NL Central this year–especially compared to the supposed banality of the NL East and West–I found myself checking the average winning percentages of each division, just to see if the Central really was that dominant, or if the fourth and fifth place teams impacted the average significantly enough to make their division as average as the rest.  Bearing in mind that all teams play an identically-composed schedule now thanks to fifteen teams in each league and five in each division, here are the end-of-season results:

  1. NL Central – .527 average winning percentage
  2. AL East – .517
  3. AL Central – .506
  4. AL West – .498
  5. NL West – .490
  6. NL East – .462

These generally agree with the way the season played out.  Even with the Mets emerging as the favorite in the East two months ago when Washington never could compose itself to make a run, the Phillies and Marlins appeared headed for dreadfulness by May 1; before all was said and done, the Braves wedged themselves between the two in the race to the cellar.

The AL East, while unspectacular outside of Toronto, boasted great depth from top to bottom; removing first and last place “outliers” from the average would make the NL Central seem more pedestrian, right?

  1. NL Central – .541
  2. AL East – .510
  3. AL West – .508
  4. AL Central – .495
  5. NL West – .488
  6. NL East – .455

Wrong.  Whereas the AL East’s average dropped, the Central’s average actually increased when removing the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Reds, respectively.  The AL West benefited from removing the underachieving A’s (if you follow Pythagorean won-loss records) and Rangers, who had the lowest winning percentage among division champions this season.  And speaking of the Rangers, their winning percentage of .543 (88 wins) is only marginally better than the .541 (87.6 wins) generated by the Pirates, Cubs, and Brewers.  The other dramatic number is the dip by the AL Central, which is unsurprising given the distance by which the Royals won the division (12 games).

Just for grins, I decided to find the average of the top three and bottom three teams in each division.

  1. NL Central – .607
  2. AL East – .537
  3. AL Central – .534
  4. AL West – .533
  5. NL West – .525
  6. NL East – .502

No surprises that the NL Central blew everyone away when finding the median of the top three; on the other end, it’s depressing how close to average the Mets, Nationals, and Marlins finished.  But take a closer look, and compare this list with the one immediately preceding it.  The middle three teams in the NL Central were, on average, better (.541 winning percentage) than the collection of top three teams in any other division (AL East was closest at .537).

The bottom three averages:

  1. AL East – .492
  2. AL Central – .477
  3. NL Central – .471
  4. AL West – .471
  5. NL West – .455
  6. NL East – .414

The thing that catches my eye here is the AL East’s (O’s, Rays, and Sox) average percentage.  It works out to 79.7 wins, which is pretty darn close to the 81.3 wins that the aforementioned top three teams in the NL East averaged.

Overall, it was a fun season, especially here in “flyover country.”  Even with the un-noteworthy seasons by the Brewers and Reds (save for the latter club’s string of consecutive games started by a rookie pitcher), it’s pretty remarkable just how dominant the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs were.


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