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 Vancover Vandals: Can They Do it Again?, Media Madness Article
PigSnout
 Posted: Jul 14 2018, 01:07 PM
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Vancouver Vandals: Can They Do It Again?

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The Vancouver Vandals are in the midst of an incredible run as they have won three championships in a row. The big question this season is whether they will be able to make it four in a row or if another team will dethrone them this season. With the regular season winding down, we can get a picture of where the Vandals stand and see how likely they are to win another championship this season.

The playoffs are already set with 10 games left to play as the San Antonio Sloths, the Vancouver Vandals, and the Providence Crabs have all clinched playoff spots. There is no clear front runner as these three teams are seperated by one game each right now with the Sloths sitting at 57-33, the Vandals sitting at 56-34, and the Crabs sitting at 55-35. Before looking at how the Vandals match up against these other teams, let's examine this year's Vandals team.

Here are the Vandals' current batting stats:

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This looks like the offense of a potential championship team. They rank top two in all but two of these offensive categories. The biggest strength of this Vandals offense is their power hitting as their 120 home runs are the most hit by any team in the league. They are also skilled at consistently getting on base as their 0.266 batting average and 0.336 on-base percentage are both second best in the league. Overall, their offense has totaled to score 491 runs, which is the second highest total in the league. The biggest weakness in the Vandals offense is their stealing, as that is the only stat where they don't rank in the top half of the league. This isn't too big of a weakness as they still manage to score plenty of runs, but it does limit their potential as they can't gain as many extra bases once they get on base. The Vandals' offense is among the best in the league and will put them in good position to contend for another championship this season.

Here are the Vandals' current pitching stats:

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Looking at these stats, the Vandals' defense is arguably the best in the league. They rank top two in nine of the ten categories and rank first in the league in over half of them. The Vandals' pitchers throw the most strikeouts of any team while allowing the least amount of walks and most importantly, surrendering the lowest number of runs out of any team in the league. However, the one potential flaw in this Vandals pitching staff is their Bullpen ERA, which ranks just fourth in the league. This comes as a bit of a surprise as the Vandals have one of the most talented bullpens in the league on paper but it seems that they haven't been getting the results this season. They have the talent to turn around their bullpen performance, but if not, it could be their downfall in a close game if they are not able to close it out. However, despite their bullpen struggles, the Vandals have still maintained the stoutest defense in the league so far this season. It's often said that pitching wins championships, and the Vandals have an elite pitching staff this season that is capable of leading them to another championship.

The Vandals are a well balanced team this year as they excel both offensively and defensively. This has been a similar formula to what they used in their past championship runs. How does this year's Vandals team stack up against those previous championship winning teams? I went back and compared this year's team to the previous championship teams in terms of runs scored per game, runs allowed per game, and the differential between those numbers (I used per game numbers since they've only played 90 games so far this season while they played 100 games in the previous seasons). I didn't include the numbers from Season 3 since hitting numbers around the league were much lower that year, so those numbers were outliers compared to the other seasons. Here are the comparisons of how these Vandals compare to the Season 2 Vandals and the Season 4 Vandals:

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In general, it looks like this Season 5 Vandals team stacks up pretty well with the previous championship teams. Offensively, they are in the middle as they are scoring more runs than the Season 4 team but not as many as the Season 2 team. Similarly, they are in the middle on defense as they are allowing more runs than the Season 4 team but slightly less than the Season 2 team. However, they do rank below both of the other teams in terms of their differential between their runs scored per game and runs allowed per game. Though they are only a small margin behind the Season 2 team in their differential so they look to be roughly on par with that Season 2 team in terms of talent. The Vandals this year seem to be on a similar level to their previous championship teams, which is a good sign that they will be in similar position to contend for the championship this year.

So the numbers definitely suggest the Vandals are a championship caliber team again this season, but the question remains about how they will match up against the other contending teams as the match ups may determine whether they are able to win another championship or not. With the playoff spots set now, we know that the Vandals will have to play either the San Antonio Sloths or the Providence Crabs or both. Let's look at how the Vandals match up against the Sloths and the Crabs both offensively and defensively.

Here are the Sloths' current batting stats:

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The Sloths' batting is the best in the league as they lead in batting average, on base percentage, and runs scored. The reason the Vandals are second place in many batting stats is because of the Sloths ranking ahead of them. The Sloths are the one team in the league with more offensive firepower than the Vandals and could out duel them in a high scoring game. However, the most interesting aspect of a potential Vandals and Sloths match up is how the Vandals' top ranked defense will fare against the Sloths' top ranked offense. The Vandals' pitching staff has the skill to shut down any offense, but the Sloths will test them more than any other team and have the firepower to give them trouble. Whether the Vandals can keep the high powered Sloths' offense in check may be the match up that will determine the outcome of a playoff series between these two teams.

Here are the Sloths' current pitching stats:

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While the Sloths' batting is the best in the league, their pitching leaves a bit to be desired. They rank fourth in half of the pitching stats, including runs allowed and opponent batting average. Despite their powerful offense, they aren't as skilled at slowing down opposing offenses. This is where the Vandals could potentially gain an advantage in a match up against the Sloths, as the Vandals have the next best offense in the league and the Sloths' pitching staff is going to have trouble slowing them down.

Overall the Sloths would be an interesting match up for the Vandals. The Vandals' top ranked defense would get to go head to head against the Sloths' top ranked offense. The Sloths' offense is one of the few that would be able to break through against the Vandals' pitchers and put points on the board against them. However, the Sloths' defense is not as strong and might struggle to shut down the Vandals' similarly powerful offense. This is a very close match up either way as the Vandals have a narrow 11-10 lead in the season series right now, but the Sloths have a good chance to take the lead with the final four head to head regular season games between them being in San Antonio. These teams are close together and it will be closely fought if they face off in a playoff series. With both teams having strong offenses, I think pitching would be the deciding factor, where the Vandals have a big edge so I think the Vandals would be favorites to win in a playoff series against the Sloths.

Here are the Crabs' current batting stats:

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The Crabs' offense trails behind the those of the Sloths and the Vandals, but they look to be a solid third place as they rank third in most of the offensive stats. Their biggest offensive strength is in getting extra-base hits as they rank first in the league in that statistic. However, they do have some flaws offensively as they have struck out more than any other team and have drawn less walks than any other team. This is where the Vandals can gain an advantage in the match up as these are both strengths of the Vandals' pitchers as they have thrown the most strikeouts of any team in the league while also allowing the least amount of walks. The Vandals could potentially exploit the weaknesses in the Crabs' offense to reduce their chances of getting on base and reduce their run scoring potential.

Here are the Crabs' current pitching stats:

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The Crabs' defense looks impressive as it is one of the few in the league that can challenge the Vandals for the title of the best pitching. They rank first or second in all but one of these pitching categories. They hold their opponents to a lower batting average than the Vandals, but do allow more walks and allow more runs overall. However, the biggest weakness of the Vandals' pitching, their bullpen ERA, is one of the Crabs' biggest strengths as their bullpen has the best ERA of any team in the league. I'd say the Vandals' pitching is slightly better due to allowing less total runs, but both teams seem to be roughly on the same level in terms of elite pitching.

The Crabs are another interesting match up for the Vandals. They don't have the same offensive firepower as the Sloths, but they are a more balanced opponent as they still have a good offense while also having a pitching staff that is comparable to that of the Vandals. However, I think the Vandals would have an edge in a match up against them as the Vanadals rank higher in both points scored and in points allowed so they a very much capable of outplaying the Crabs on both sides of the ball. However, this does not mean that it is not a close match up between these two teams. The regular season series was very close with the Vandals pulling off a narrow 13-12 win. When looking at the Crabs' stats, it also worth noting that they made a mid season blockbuster trade to bring in Paulo Di Stephano. Since their full season stats do not completely account for this addition as the games from before the trade do not account for Di Stephano, the current Crabs are likely a tougher team than some of their stats may suggest. However, I think the Vandals are still capable of beating them even with the addition of Di Stephano.

Another way we can compare these playoff teams is by looking at their point differentials in order to try to find some differentiation since their records are so close together. The Vandals currently have a +154 point differential, the Sloths currently have a +114 point differential, and the Crabs currently have a +78 point differential. This is a good sign for the Vandals have the best point differential by a good margin, which suggests they are the strongest of these teams. Another way to look at this is through the teams' pythagorean records, which are their expected records based on their runs scored and runs allowed. The Vandals' pythagorean record is 60-30, the Sloths' pythagorean record is 55-35, and the Crabs' pythagorean record is 53-37. The Vandals' real record is 4 games worse than their pythagorean record, while the Sloths and Crabs have both performed 2 games better than their pythagorean records. This may suggest that the Vandals are the strongest team but have had worse luck than the other teams. This could make sense as the Sloths and Crabs both have winning records in extra inning games and one run games, while the Vandals have a losing record in extra inning games and a .500 record in one run games. This could mean the Vandals have had bad luck in close games this season, or it could be a point of concern if there is a larger reason that the Vandals struggle to close out close games. However, either way, the pythagorean record numbers do suggest that the Vandals are better than their record indicates, which is a good sign for their playoff odds.

One of the nice aspects of this being a sim league is that TPE gives us a way to objectively compare teams since we know each player's talent level from their TPE rankings. Here is a link to the most recent TPE Update of the players around the league. The most important stat to look at in here is the TPE averages of each team's 4 best starting pitchers, 4 best closing pitchers, and 9 best hitters as these are the most relevant players that will see playing time in the playoffs. The Vandals lead in this category with 670 TPE, the Crabs are in second at 615 TPE, and the Sloths are in third at 524 TPE. Also it is worth noting that the Vandals' number is a bit lower than reality since they only have 3 closers, so their fourth closer was considered as a 0 TPE player in these rankings so the Vandals' real talent level is actually higher than this number suggests. These numbers are another good sign for the Vandals' championship odds as it shows that they are still the most talented team on paper even with these other teams creeping closer to them in the standings this year.

Another potential factor to consider in the Vandals' championship odds is home field advantage. With a 0.696 home winning percentage compared to a 0.545 road winning percentage, having home field advantage could be a big boost for them in the playoffs. However, they currently do not have home field advantage for the finals as they sit a game behind the Sloths in the standings right now. With four head to head games against the Sloths in the final sim, they have the chance to overtake them for first place, but this could be tough to do with all four games being in San Antonio. Gaining first place is also important as it would grant a first round bye and would eliminate having to play another tough series that would increase their chances of elimination. Since the Vandals are only one game ahead of the Crabs, they could also lose home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs if they struggle in the final sim and fall behind them in the standings. Home field advantage hasn't mattered for the Vandals in the past as none of their playoff series has made it to the final game, but it is still a factor to consider in their championship odds as it could be a difference maker in a close series.

Overall, there are a lot of factors to consider when evaluating a team's championship odds. However, I like the Vandals' odds this year as they are the strongest of the playoff teams on paper and seem like they can match up well against the strengths and weaknesses of the teams they may face in the playoffs. I think this will be their toughest test yet as there are two teams who can legitimately challenge them this year and they may have to play two playoff series this year and may not have home field advantage. However, I think the Vandals are still capable of pulling it off and I would still pick them as the favorite to win again this year and bring home their fourth consecutive championship.

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JuOSu
 Posted: Jul 14 2018, 01:30 PM
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Fantastic work, love the in-depth analysis of all of it. I think it is extremely close this season but the Vandals are still the clear favorites when you look at lineups, rotation and run differential. I think the 1 seed could be a huge thing though, if the Vandals somehow do not end up with the 1st seed it means that suddenly they have to win two series against two teams that are closer to them than in previous seasons. If they get the 1 seed, they only have to win one series. I think that could be the difference maker. The Vandals are still the clear favorites but if they are forced to win against both teams, that adds a lot of uncertainty cause luck and other factors can play a huge role in a 5 and 7 game series against two very strong teams.

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iamslm22
 Posted: Jul 16 2018, 06:58 AM
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Man PigSnout idk how I missed this, but this is great work. Awesome read

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PigSnout
 Posted: Jul 17 2018, 01:00 AM
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QUOTE (iamslm22 @ Jul 16 2018, 09:58 AM)
Man PigSnout idk how I missed this, but this is great work. Awesome read


Thanks! //files.jcink.net/html/emoticons/smile.gif

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