This is going to be the first in a series of four articles breaking down the 2006 playoff teams. Each article will focus on one of four categories, offense, defense, pitching and coaching. Today I will try and breakdown the offense.
Now while many a teams offensive numbers benefit from being in the American League, their pitching staffs are negatively affected being in the American League as well.
I used 8 categories to indicate a teams overall offensive prowess:
Runs, Hits, HR's, BB's, SB's, BA, OBP, and OPS.
Also for shits and giggles, I was twisted enough to include the Cubs stats.
I've listed the teams in descending order based on Runs Scored with their appropriate major league rank.
Runs... Hits... HR's.... BB's..... SB's.... BA..... OBP... OPS....
930-1.. 1608-1. 210-5.. 649-3... 139-3.. 285-2.. 363-1.. 824-1. NYY
834-7.. 1469-20 200-7.. 547-12. 142-2.. 264-20. 334-18 780-10 NYM
822-8.. 1548-9. 203-6.. 430-28.. 60-24.. 274-10 329-24 777-11 DET
820-10. 1552-8. 153-27. 601-6.. 128-5.. 276-8.. 348-4.. 781-9. LAD
801-13. 1608-1. 143-28. 490-22. 101-13. 287-1. 347-6.. 771-13 MIN
781-14. 1484-19 184-12. 531-13. 59-25.. 269-16 337-14 769-14 STL
771-16. 1429-25 175-16. 650-2... 61-23.. 260-25 340-10 752-21 OAK
731-26. 1465-21 161-23. 564-9.. 123-8.. 263-23. 332-21 749-22 PAD
716-28. 1496-18 166-19. 395-30. 121-10. 268-17 319-29 741-27 Chicago Cubs
You can see that the Yankees finished in the top 5 in every category, with no other team even finishing in the top 10, in every category. The Yankees were head and shoulders above any other team, and truly set the "Gold Standard" for offenses.
So what do all these numbers tell us other than the obvious realization that the Yankees are a powerhouse and the Cubs are a millie?
Well the first stat that jumps out at me is, what little importance the stolen base has. The stolen base was the only category that the Cubs finished in the top 10 with, while 3 of the 4 final teams in last years playoffs had only half as many stolen bases as the Cubs.
The second stat that seems to strike me as quite telling is runs scored. When you strike out the gaudy numbers of the Yankees, who in my opinion were clearly the best the team in baseball, only the Padres had significantly poor numbers in most every offensive category.
I know that the other categories of defense, pitching and coaching play a significant role in a teams success, but with respects to the teams ability to score runs, the Padres were clearly more pretenders than contenders.
You can see over the 162 game season, the runs scored differential between the other six playoff teams was a only 63. While most of these teams ranked near the middle in most offensive categories, you'll notice that when a team was deficient in a category like walks they made up for it HR's or BA.
So it seems that having a $200 million payroll clearly can provide you a big edge offensively, but with most every other playoff team pretty much in the middle of the pack, there has to be another unknown factor involved.
I submit the unknown factor most assuredly is the teams ability to perform in the categories that don't seem to get much attention when looking at a team's offensive production. Stats like, a hitter giving himself up to advance a runner, hitting a sacrifice fly, laying down a bunt, or going from first to third.
This fundamental play is the cornerstone of any team, and the ones that do it best make the most of even average offensive production, and quite often spelling the difference in most every close contest.
So what can us Cub fans take away from all of this statistical mumbo-jumbo? I believe that if a seed change can be implemented in the way the players think and play the game, that even an average offensive club can at least make the playoffs.