On Washington and the Unbalanced Schedule

Friday, August 13, 2010

Every once in awhile I will get into a discussion with someone about the MLB schedule, specifically the debate of balanced versus unbalanced schedules. I'm mostly agnostic on the issue, though I like the unbalanced schedule because it minimizes West coast road trips for the Marlins (which is important for my TV-viewing habits). However, I have noticed over the last few years that the scheduling of 18 to 20 games against the Washington Nationals every year seems to benefit the Marlins' performance in the standings. So I decided to figure out how much of a benefit they gain by playing the Nationals so much every year, and came up with this rough spreadsheet (if anyone wants to crunch the numbers further, feel free to use this as a jumping off point).

While the Marlins have posted losing records against the Phillies, Braves, and Mets since 2006, they have gone 53-30 against Washington since 2006, good for a .639 winning percentage. This dominance of the Nationals helped give the Marlins a .510 winning percentage against the NL East since 2006, compared to a .485 winning percentage against the rest of MLB over the same period. This point was reiterated last night, as the Marlins finished off a three-game sweep of the Nationals to help pull the team back over .500 for the year.

What does this all mean? Not much, except we should all thank the Nationals for boosting the Marlins' win count over the years. I haven't had a chance to see how the team has fared against other perennial cellar-dwellers in the NL, so it's not a guarantee that the team would do any worse if it had to play the Pirates or Diamondbacks twice as much each year (though we all know about the team's struggles against Pittsburgh). I think I'll be looking into this more closely over the next few weeks, just to see what I can find.

Image via WaPo


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