Controlling The Schedule

I saw this tweet the other day that made me chuckle:

The #Rays are pathetic. They’re winning the AL East because they’ve only played one team (#Yankees) that is more than one game over .500.

As if the Rays have any control over who MLB puts on their schedule when. Then again, who would have predicted that Boston would be below .500 now or that Oakland would be above .500? The club has won the games they should be winning right now – as they did in 2008 when they won the division.  How important is it for the Rays to win as many of these games as possible? Consider the chart below that shows the winning percentages the club had against teams below .500, above .500, and interleague games:

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In 2008, the club pounded sub .500 teams winning nearly two-thirds of those contests as they also did in interleague play. Even against teams above .500, the club won 54% of those games on their way to the 97 win season. In 2009, the Rays still handled sub .500 teams but not at the rate they had in 2008 and while they were even better in interleague play, the record against teams better than .500 was very poor and was ultimately the club’s undoing in the pursuit of the wildcard spot.  So far in 2010, the club has beaten the sub .500 teams at its best rate in the Rays era going 14-4 so far while going 3-2 against the two teams that are currently above .500 in Oakland and New York.

This hot start is a tremendous step in the right direction in repeating the 2008 success because the Rays have been a very good interleague team these past two seasons winning 25 of 36 interleague contests. This season, the Rays have the Astros, Marlins, Braves, Padres, and Diamondbacks on the schedule – a group that is currently 54-61 with a 47% winning percentage. Most surprisingly, the Padres are the only team in that group currently above .500 at 15-8.

The schedule makers have indeed done the Rays a favor and while they cannot control who gets on their schedule, they most certainly control how they play against that schedule and to date, they’re exceeding expectations.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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