The good times, they are a-coming

This year, it’s been too easy to be negative about the Rangers. When a team plays so badly they’re worse than the Royals, there’s not much you can say to praise them. However, while doing a little analysis today, I found something that Rangers fans can be hopeful about. Take a look at this:

ALWest

A little explanation is necessary: this is the seven year moving average of the winning percentage of the four current AL West teams, from 1961 to 2006. By seven year moving average, I mean for each year I took the total wins and losses of that year, the three years prior and the three years after, and got the winning percentage (so, for example, for 1996 I got the wins and losses from 1993-1999). The moving average smooths out the wide fluctations, and shows trends a little better. I went from 1961 because that’s when the Angels and Rangers were born. The Mariners came along in 1977, and of course the A’s were around forever. This also covers a lot of years when these teams were in divisions with other teams, not just by themselves, but it is still an interesting comparison.

Which line stands out for you? Maybe the Rangers, since you’re a Rangers fan? No, for me it’s the yellow Oakland line. Look how perfectly formed that curve is! From the data I can tell you that they have a peak and a trough almost exactly every eight years. Since they had a peak a couple of years ago in 2004, they sure look like they’re on another dip right now.
How about the Angels’ red line? Meanders for a while around .475, makes a little peak during the 80’s, dips down then goes to a higher peak in the 2000’s, which anyone would recognize as their most successful period. But again, look at the end of the line, starts to drop right at the end, like they’re on their way down.

The Seattle green line shows a very consistent improvement from their creation up until 2000, when they hit their peak and began to fall. The only thing you could say about this is that they were well managed to keep them improving year after year after year.

Finally, the Texas line, which I put in blue to recognize their current uniforms, just because Anaheim already used the red. The Rangers started with a small hump in the late 60’s, got a bigger one in the late 70’s, and a longer one running through most of the 90’s. They hit a dip, but got a little rise back at the end.

And that’s the important thing, that rise at the end for the Rangers while everyone else is falling. By using a seven year moving average, it flattens out those years that deceive, like 2004 when the Rangers won 89 during a period of seven seasons where their next best was 80. I don’t have 2007 numbers in there, so that might change things a little, especially with the Rangers bad year and everyone else going well, but looking at this I think you’d agree that the Rangers appear to be on an upswing when everyone else is going down. If I was to predict things, looking at these numbers, I would say that in three or four years you will see the A’s in freefall, the Angels stumbling down, the Rangers starting to peak and the Mariners coming up behind. I would say that from about 2010-15 will be a good time for the Rangers, probably in battle with Seattle for much of that time.

I’ve always believed that results go up and down like this, that teams have a few good years followed by a few bad. I never ever thought that a team would exhibit such perfect symmetry as the A’s do though. I intend to look at the rest of MLB and see if any other teams show such a trend. The others on the graph show the ups and downs, just not so clearly. It would be very interesting to see if more established teams show the same trend as the A’s, in that maybe because they’ve been around so long they’ve gotten into this pattern. Newer teams, like the three others here, may take some time to get into such periodicity.

Good win tonight, fantastic catch and throw by Lofton, concern about Tex (and his trade value), concern about how they threw the game away time after time, concern about the hundred men left on base, but overall it’s hello win column which is all that matters. Note from yesterday’s blog entry: 3:38 game time, which would really affect Millwood’s count, but that’s what happens when you have 28 hits in a game.

And after seeing the chart of winning percentages, at least I can be a little more positive, and say wait til next next next year.

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