Hard to Figure

(By Paul Connors -- Associated Press)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

According to baseball's Pythagorean winning percentage*, which relates the number of runs a team scored and allowed to its win-loss record, the Arizona Diamondbacks should not have the best record in the National League (88-68 through Monday's games). They should be in fourth place in the NL West (76-80). Three reasons the Diamondbacks are better than their statistics:

Although the D-backs have been on the losing end of some ugly blowouts (which helps explain how they had been outscored by 14 runs this season, entering last night), they were 32-18 in one-run games. Give Bob Melvin (a manager of the year candidate) credit for using his bullpen wisely and saving his best relievers for the highest-leverage assignments.

Arizona's ace, right, has seen his Cy Young candidacy wilt in the face of Jake Peavy's late surge, but Webb remains one of the league's top starters -- capable of long stretches of untouchability, as evidenced by his string of 42 straight scoreless innings earlier this season.

The back end of Arizona's bullpen, anchored by closer Jose Valverde, left, goes five-deep with dependable arms. In addition to Valverde, right-handers Tony Pena Jr., Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz, and lefty Doug Slaton all carry ERAs between 2.27 and 3.26, and Valverde leads the NL with 46 saves.

*Baseball's Pythagorean winning percentage, created by sabermetrician Bill James, is the square of runs scored divided by the sum of the square of runs scored plus the square of runs allowed.

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