A popular past-time here in the land of milk, honey, and schadenfraude seems to be one of two things:
- Laughing at the Red Sox or
- Lamenting the Twins.
The Twins, you won't be surprised to hear me say, were awful. Terrible. Their inclusion in the post season was nothing more than a tragedy. While some trot them out as baseball's be all and end all, one cannot get away from the fact that they suck. Well they don't suck, but they aren't good.
I could go on and on about their easy schedule and their adjusted records and blah blah, but you've heard that a million times before. How about a different approach to define the cosmic screw job that is the Toronto Blue Jays: let's use WAR.
I've used WAR and its component stats all year and with good reason: it is by far the most comprehensive way to evaluate the talent on the field. Hopefully, it all comes out in the wash. Why not use it on a team-wide scale (with a hat tip to U.S.S Mariner) for the Jays?
The Jays won 75 games, this you know. The Jays were "expected" to win between 82 and 85 games, depending on you calculated it using their runs scored and the strength of their opponents. Does WAR support that? Would this be another stat to prove that the luck the Jays so desperately need continues to allude them?
In a word: yes. If you combine the WAR of all Jays batters and pitchers, you get a grand total of 39.1 wins above replacement. 20.9 for the pitchers, 18.2 for the hitters. We know, thanks to smart people like Tom Tango, that a team of replacement level players (good AAA guys that are freely available) would win about 46 games in 2009. Add'em together and you get 85.1 wins. Shit.
The Twins, the playoff bound role models for all to see, got 21.8 wins from their offense and 16.4 wins from their pitching. That's 38.2 WAR, making a total of 84.2 total wins and making my day completely ruined.
This type of disparity gets your GM run out of some towns yet put up on a pedestal in others. I will note two things before we proceed: the Jays figures don't tell the whole story as the team was markedly different at the end of the season compared to the beginning. That said, the late-season runs by Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista made their seasons look much better than they did in August. Vernon ended the season a hair below replacement level; all for the low low price of one zillion dollars!
The other thing I would like to note is the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays finished the season with 86 total wins. Their WAR-adjusted total? 90. 90 fucking wins! Replacement level in 2008 was slightly higher (47.4 wins) yet the Jays, on the strength of their insane pitching (26.3 WAR) amassed 42.6 WAR. That is nuts. I think we can say the 2008 Jays are among the better Blue Jays teams of all time. We can say because I just did, that doesn't make it true. (Ed Note: I think I'll actually do this another time. Just looking quickly, I see the 2006 Jays were a 93.7 win team! Eep!)
Where am I going with all this? Realignment! The only answer remaining, the one least likely to ever occur! What? How could that be? Why doesn't baseball adapt the ingenious ideal (that I first came across in the DFJ transcription of a Keith Law chat) of two big divisions with two wild cards from wherever? Surely in the name of all that is collusion the owners want to please their customers, don't they? Of course they don't.
Who do you think would oppose this move the most? The owners of the Jays, Orioles, and Rays would fight tooth and nail to avoid this. The value of 9 home dates with the Red Sox and Yankees CANNOT be overstated. You think the Jays or Rays want less of that with more weeknight dates against the Royals and a slightly increased possibility of the playoffs in return? Fuck no, they don't.
An alignment of this type would expose the fraudulent Twins and their shitty division mates, but it surely wouldn't help the Jays. Even during the aforementioned 2006 season, the Jays coulda/shoulda won 93.7 games, the damn Twins WAR'd 93.4. So there'd the Jays would be again, hoping against hope to string some lucky wins together with a chance at grabbing the remaining non-Red Socked wildcard spot. Sigh.
As for fixing the everpresent disparity between the Jays actual win total and their projected one? Just hit like crazy in the clutch like the Twins! Who cares how unsustainable it is or how inaccurate it is of the team, just follow their lead! Fill your team with one superduper start, two decent power bats and dozens of shitty singles hitters! Just hit single after single because your luck will never ru...oh, right.