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MLB standings by run differential: Astros deserve more credit

Looking at the MLB standings by run differential reveals that the Astros deserve more credit, the NL Central is indecipherable and more.

The MLB standings can still drastically change before the end of the season but after two months of play we have a good idea of which teams have it together and which don’t.

However, there’s a measure than can help inform the standings and reveal more about teams on the right and wrong track. That’s run differential, which is the difference between the total runs a team has scored and the total runs they have allowed.

Between the Rangers surging to the lead in the AL West and the annual “what will it take for the Angels to win with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout?” question, it’s been a bit lost that the Astros are having a strong campaign despite losing Justin Verlander and injuries holding out Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Luis Garcia and others. Their +56 differential is the fifth best in the majors.

At +116, the Rays are obliterating the AL East in run differential far beyond their three-game lead at the top of the division would suggest. But they’re also exponentially better in that measure than most MLB teams. The Rangers are the only ones ahead of them and those two have twice the diff of the third-place Dodgers at +61.

The Tigers have a differential nearly as bad as the bottom-dwelling Royals yet they are in second place in the AL Central, with their 26-30 mark far out pacing their expected record of 22-34. On one hand, that’s impressive. On the other hand, there’s always the danger of reverting to the mean.

The Marlins have the worst run differential in the NL East yet they sit ahead of the Mets and Phillies. Does that seem right to you?

The Brewers are the only division leader with a negative differential. That’s just more proof that the NL Central is a mess as the Cubs and Cardinals struggle to find their way.

Of course, it’s not as much of a mess as Oakland with a differential of -199. The A’s are historically bad.

MLB standings by run differential

All standings as of June 2.

AL East

  1. (1) Rays +116
  2. (3) Yankees +36
  3. (2) Orioles +29
  4. (4) Blue Jays +28
  5. (5) Red Sox +18

AL Central

  1. (1) Twins +48
  2. (3) Guardians -34
  3. (4) White Sox -51
  4. (2) Tigers -60
  5. (5) Royals -75

AL West

  1. (1) Rangers +133
  2. (2) Astros +56
  3. (3) Mariners +22
  4. (4) Angels +5
  5. (5) Athletics -199

NL East

  1. (1) Braves +57
  2. (3) Mets -9
  3. 5) Nationals -27
  4. (4) Phillies -46
  5. (2) Marlins -50

NL Central

  1. (2) Pirates +8
  2. (4) Cubs +6
  3. (5) Cardinals +6
  4. (1) Brewers -25
  5. (3) Reds -29

NL West

  1. (2) Dodgers +61
  2. (1) Diamondbacks +25
  3. (4) Padres +7
  4. (3) Giants +2
  5. (5) Rockies -57

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