2016 Baseball Outliers

Below I’ve repeated the figure I generated in the last post, but this time with the teams labeled:

Why are the Texas Rangers (TEX) such outliers? Given that they scored only 8 more runs than their opponents, one would expect the team to win only 81 games. Yet they won 95 times in 2016. Why is this?

It comes down to their performance in one-run games. Texas was 36 and 11 (.766) in one-run games last year, a modern-day record for Major League Baseball. But it’s a rather dubious record. As Max Marchi and Jim Albert state in Analyzing Baseball Data With R:

Winning a disproportionate number of close games is sometimes attributed to luck. However, teams with certain attributes may be more likely to systematically win contests decided by a narrow margin. For example, teams with top quality closers tend to preserve small leads …

Of course the Dallas News tried to put a better face on it at the end of the season when Texas won the AL West, but the team was eventually swept three games to none by the Toronto Bluejays in the division series.

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