The Miami Marlins: The Most .500 Team Ever

Ozzie Guillen is the proud manager of the most average team in baseball thus far this season. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Earlier today, we pointed out why the Miami Marlins have done so well in May. The team has won 20 games this month and that represents a club record. The latest victories have pulled them to a 28-22 record. But as you might expect, a 28-22 record does not mean that your team has performed as well as that record would suggest. One could look at a number of other statistics that look to break down the Marlins by component thus far this season to determine how good they have been. We showed a number of them earlier today, so it is worth looking at those again.

Month Runs Runs Allowed wRC FIP RA + UZR* Win% PythWin%** FanGraphsWin%^
April 73 87 75 92 .364 .423 .409
May 126 112 125 108 .714 .554 .567

Now, usually that sort of analysis looks at runs scored and allowed to determine a Pythagorean win percentage. The analysis could go even deeper by analyzing the Marlins' component stats to determine how many runs the team should have scored and allowed and then applying Pythagorean expectations to estimate a win percentage.

However, in the case of the Marlins, the answers all point to one response.

Marlins Runs Scored Runs Allowed Win%
Actual Runs 199 199 .500
FanGraphs Runs 200 200 .500

Sure, the Miami Marlins may have been one of the worst teams in April and one of the best teams in May, but when you look at their overall record, only one thing stands out: thus far in 2012, they have been the most utterly average team in baseball.

Sometimes records lie, and run differential tends to be a better record of how well a team played at any given time. It also tends to better estimate a team's performance in the future as well. But sometimes run differential lies, and using component stats turns out to be a better indicator of how a team played at a given time. Just like sometimes teams can be lucky or unlucky in one-run games, teams can also be lucky or unlucky with runners on base and not drive in runs that they otherwise would have earned with their hitting.

But sometimes, something magical like what the Marlins have done thus far this season aligns perfectly. Sometimes, you take a look at a team's true runs scored and allowed and it directly reflects how well the team has played in terms of component stats. Now, this only shows that the Marlins have done about as well in terms of wOBA on offense as their real run scoring would suggest, and that the estimate of FIP plus UZR runs also worked out well with their real runs allowed. But what about other methods of computing this component data?

Well, let's take a look at another source, Baseball Prospectus, to see where they stand with the Fish. This is taken from their Hit List article from today.

Bphitlist_medium

Keep in mind what those first three columns mean:

W1: Represents a Pythagorean estimate of total wins based on the team's runs scored and allowed

W2: Represents a Pythagorean estimate of total wins based on the team's EqR and EqRA, Baseball Prospectus's total offense stat and pitching-plus-defense stats respectively

W3: Represents a Pythagorean estimate of total wins based on the team's adjusted EqR and EqRA, adjusted for strength of schedule

OK, take a look at the entry for the Marlins.

Bphitlistmarlins_medium

They are perfectly .500. Even after adjusting for strength of schedule, somehow the Marlins have turned in a perfectly .500 performance on their third-order wins. It's not just normal runs that had the Marlins as being average, but it is also component runs and component runs adjusted for strength of schedule. Through yesterday, when combining their putrid April and their red-hot May, this team could not have been more average.

That does not mean that the Marlins are expected to finish .500 the rest of the way. Depending on who you asked, the Marlins should have been a true-talent 84- or 85-win team this season. That is certainly the stance that this site took prior to the start of the year. Interestingly enough, if you use this simple TangoTiger shortcut for estimating end-of-season record based on one season of play, you get 85 wins, right in line with our projections. If you just figure the Marlins would split their remaining 112 games, they end up at 84 wins, so our projections were not all that far-fetched.

However, if you take the Fish as a true-talent 85-win team going forward, as Baseball Prospectus projected before the season, then you might give the Fish, as Baseball Prospectus did, a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs. CoolStandings.com has us at 31 percent chance of making the postseason, and right now a number in between those odds seems about right.

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