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A Stunning Insight

As we head into the last 40 games of the season, I was planning on doing a post with lots of tables that would look at how the remainder of the season would go based on strength of schedule, and a few other factors. As I was doing this, I came to two realizations:

1) The NL is as bad as Dennis Rodman. Third order wins, which are Pythagorean standings adjusted for strength of schedule, ranks the NL as follows:

Mets
Dodgers
Padres
Rockies

These are the only teams that are over .500. The Cardinals, a team that people can point to and say "see, the NL has more than just the Mets in it", are eighth in the NL in third order wins, just behind powerhouses Houston and Cincinnati.

2) The Dodgers don't have to play the Dodgers.

This is why you come to this site, for hard-hitting analysis like that. Let me explain why this isn't quite possibly the worst epiphany ever.

Here's the tables I was working with.

LA Adj. .000 Adj. .000
Win Pct Ex. Wins Adjusted 3rd Order Ex. Wins Home/Away
2 SF .484 1.032 1.032 .491 1.018 1.018
3 SD .500 1.500 1.500 .514 1.458 1.458
3 Ari .500 1.500 1.500 .470 1.590 1.590
3 Cin .508 1.476 1.476 .470 1.590 1.590
3 Col .484 1.548 1.548 .511 1.467 1.467
3 Mil .475 1.575 1.575 .446 1.662 1.662
4 NY .603 1.588 1.588 .550 1.800 1.800
3 ChC .430 1.710 1.710 .426 1.722 1.722
4 SD .500 2.000 2.000 .514 1.944 1.944
3 Pit .385 1.845 1.845 .420 1.740 1.740
3 Ari .500 1.500 1.500 .470 1.590 1.590
3 Col .484 1.548 1.548 .511 1.467 1.467
3 SF .484 1.548 1.548 .491 1.527 1.527
40 20.370 20.370 20.575 20.575
San Diego Adj. .048 Adj. .034
Win Pct Ex. Wins Adjusted 3rd Order Ex. Wins Adj 3rd Orde
2 Ari .500 1.000 .904 .470 1.060 .992
3 LA .525 1.425 1.281 .532 1.404 1.302
3 Col .484 1.548 1.404 .511 1.467 1.365
3 Ari .500 1.500 1.356 .470 1.590 1.488
3 Cin .508 1.476 1.332 .470 1.590 1.488
3 Col .484 1.548 1.404 .511 1.467 1.365
3 SF .484 1.548 1.404 .491 1.527 1.425
3 Cin .508 1.476 1.332 .470 1.590 1.488
4 LA .525 1.900 1.708 .532 1.872 1.736
3 Ari .500 1.500 1.356 .470 1.590 1.488
3 Pit .385 1.845 1.701 .420 1.740 1.638
3 StL .537 1.389 1.245 .469 1.593 1.491
4 Ari .500 2.000 1.808 .470 2.120 1.984
40 20.155 18.235 20.610 19.250
Arizona Adj. .048 Adj. .117
Win Pct Ex. Wins Adjusted 3rd Order Ex. Wins Adj 3rd Orde
2 SD .500 1.000 .904 .514 .972 .738
3 SF .484 1.548 1.404 .491 1.527 1.176
3 LA .525 1.425 1.281 .532 1.404 1.053
3 SD .500 1.500 1.356 .514 1.458 1.107
3 Was .443 1.671 1.527 .450 1.650 1.299
3 Fla .463 1.611 1.467 .473 1.581 1.230
4 StL .537 1.852 1.660 .469 2.124 1.656
3 Was .443 1.671 1.527 .450 1.650 1.299
3 Col .484 1.548 1.404 .511 1.467 1.116
3 SD .500 1.500 1.356 .514 1.458 1.107
3 LA .525 1.425 1.281 .532 1.404 1.053
3 SF .484 1.548 1.404 .491 1.527 1.176
4 SD .500 2.000 1.808 .514 1.944 1.476
40 20.299 18.379 20.166 15.486
The first column after the team names is the winning percentage of the team that is being played, and the second column is the amount of unadjusted expected wins the team would get out of the series. This is calculated by taking the inverse of the winning percentage, then multiplying by the number of games.

When looking through these numbers, I noticed that even though a team like Arizona seems to have a much easier schedule than the Dodgers, six with Washington, three with Florida, and they don't have to play the Mets, they still came up with less expected wins than the Dodgers. How could this be?

At this point in the season, the NL West has 27 or 28 games within the division, and 12 or 13 outside of it. With most of the games taking place within the division, each team has at least one more series against every other team in the West.

With so few good teams in the NL, the fact that the Dodgers can avoid playing themselves is a huge advantage. While every other team in the West has to face the second best team in the NL at least once more, the Dodgers get to play teams who have less than inspiring records.

Of course, the Dodgers could get bombed over the next few days and knock them from their current status of "good team", but it shouldn't come to that.

At least I hope it doesn't come to that.