Todd posted this at our ESPN league site but it's just too good not to put in a permanent place. For outsiders, Todd does a LOT of statistical analysis in the league, so some explanation of xWin might be useful: xWin stands for expected wins, calculated by comparing a team's performance to all other teams during the week (head-to-head contests are weekly). The difference between actual wins and expected wins is the 'luck' factor in the schedule. Or something like that...

Here's Todd's spreadsheet, which he graciously allows all of us to access: 2013 RBL Stats

On to the recap as posted by our league scribe:

A look back at the year that was!

Week 15 question: Best in RBL history?
Nope, sorry. The Lumberjacks had an incredible season, no question. But they played 'just' .558 ball from week 16 onward, leaving them with an overall .698 win %, falling short of the 2011 vall Bangers' .708. In conjunction with the vall Bangers' superior roto and xW ratings, I think this question is pretty well settled. The Lumberjacks did, however, set the mark for most wins in a season.

Best category: SV
Worst category: W
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting
Other thoughts: The Lumberjacks may not actually even be the second best team in RBL history, though they have the clearest claim. Their expected win % of .667 is similar to the actual win rates of the '09 Lumberjacks (.660) and '07 Soup (.664) (I don't have xW data prior to 2010), and with four teams finishing over .600 this year, there's clearly some inflation going on as a result of expansion, as only one other year had as many as 3 teams over .600.

Week 15 question: Best team right now?
I think so. From week 16 onward, the E's have led the league in both wins and xWs. Looking from week 10 onward, it's not really close- the E's have 90 wins and 86.3 xW, compared to the second place Lumberjacks' 79 and 78.2. As you might expect, this includes dominance on the pitching side, but perhaps surprisingly, it also includes dominance on the hitting side. I don't just mean the E's have been one of the best offensive teams- by xW, they have been the best hitting team since week 10, and actually have more offensive xW than pitching xW. There's a reason I picked them to win the championship... oh, hey, look who I'm playing in the first round.

Best category: RBI
Worst category: SLG
Hitting or Pitching: Pitching
Other thoughts: The E's finished with the 3rd-best record in RBL history (.669 win%), trailing only the '11 vall Bangers and this year's Lumberjacks. The previous record holders for best win % not to lead the league were the '07 Lumberjacks (nee Thunder) and Bombers at .632. Interestingly, despite playing in the Junker division, the E's had the league's easiest schedule.

Week 15 question: Can they hold up in the playoffs?
Remains to be seen, but the Foes look like a MUCH stronger contender than they did 6 weeks ago. Over the last 6 weeks, the Foes played at a .692 clip, and while their expected win rate was not quite so strong, it was still elite (.632). Though still just 8th overall in xW for the year, the Foes finished at a respectable .558, and were just .13 back of the 7th-place Longgui. Moreover, they moved all the way up to 4th in roto. It remains true that the Foes have a losing record against every playoff team save the Longgui, who they can't play in the second round, but the Foes should be at least as competitive as the Longgui and vall Bangers against the Junkernauts.

Best category: WHIP
Worst category: K
Hitting or Pitching: Pitching
Other thoughts: Though the Sauce were the better team as of week 15, the Foes pulled well away from them by season's end. I'm sure there was selection bias involved, but nonetheless, the Foes did finish the year as definitively the best team in the Nieuport division.

Week 15 question: Most balanced team?
Nope, that honor now belongs to the E's, whose surging offense has gotten them into the top 5 in every roto category save steals. The Ducklings have also slipped on the pitching side, falling to 5th overall. Nonetheless, the Ducklings remain impressively balanced, ranking 2nd through 4th in seven categories, and 6th, 7th, and 8th in the other three. They are the only team that finished in the top half in every category, both in xW and roto.

Best category: R
Worst category: K
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting
Other thoughts: Although the Ducklings have a .552 win % against the Longgui, they've only won their matchups at a .476 rate counting ties as wins for the Longgui, thanks to 3 ties in the 21 weeks.
The Ducklings are making their first playoff appearance, marking the end of the second-longest playoff drought in RBL history. The longest belongs to the Cougars, who are at 10 years and counting. The only other team that has never made the playoffs is the Quaggas, but they've only spent 2 years total in the league.

Week 15 question: Playoff spot under threat?
Not really. As of week 15, the Soup were just 5 games back, with the Longgui seemingly in decline. Since then, the Longgui recovered very nicely, playing .650 ball (compared to the Soup's .575, which was bolstered by a 9-0-1 win after the race was over) and effectively locking up their spot by week 19. It didn't hurt that the Longgui played one of the easiest schedules down the stretch (.371 opponent's xW% over the last six weeks); in fact, the Longgui had the second-easiest schedule overall, despite a 3rd-place finish last year.

Best category: SV
Worst category: SB
Hitting or Pitching: Pitching
Other thoughts: Though the Foes spent much of the year leading their division despite trailing the Sauce in xW and roto, ultimately it was not the Foes, but the Longgui and vall Bangers, that won their divisions under such conditions. The swing in the Sopwith division against the expected standings was nearly 10 games... and likely not coincidentally, the Soup played a schedule over 11 games more difficult by xW than the Longgui.

vall Bangers
Week 15 question: First to be hosed by divisions?
If anything, the opposite. I maintained my 6th-place position, but got into the playoffs thanks to the King's Men and Longgui flip-flopping around me. It's hard to say whether it's divisional play specifically that enabled me (and the Longgui) to get into the playoffs ahead of the King's Men (and Soup), and it's probably safer to conclude that the E's are the first to be hosed by divisions. It's also worth noting that I did finish 6th in xW (though 8th in roto), so my spot is arguably deserved, albeit not at the King's Men's expense. Nonetheless, I feel quite fortunate to be invited to the dance.

Best category: OBP
Worst category: W
Hitting or Pitching: BANG THOSE VALLS
Other thoughts: My .579 win% this year just barely trails my league-leading .582 from '08, and the only other time I've had a better win% was my .708 in '11. I do not for a moment believe that my team this year measures up to my '08 squad, or even my '10 (.538, 5th) or '12 (.563, 4th) teams. Another observation on the effects of expansion...

King's Men
Week 15 comment: Wanna be a Cool kid
It was nice while it lasted. The comment was referring to the way the King's Men were surging on offense, just like the E's, but from week 16 on, the royal offense dropped down to a .478 xW%. Meanwhile, the royal pitching staff continued to decline, with a .556 xW% over the past six weeks. That's not bad, but it's not the elite pitching that John enjoyed early in the season, and it goes a long way toward explaining the collapse of the King's Men.

Best category: K
Worst category: RBI
Hitting or Pitching: Matt Harvey
Other thoughts: It probably didn't help that the King's Men faced an opponent's xW% of .607 down the stretch, compared to .435 for the vall Bangers. While the overall schedule difference between the two was less than 4 games, the total luck swing was close to 9. As a result, the King's Men are easily the best team not to make the playoffs since I've been calculating xW data (2010). Consider:
*Their .550 win% trounced the previous high for a 7th-place finisher (.530)
*Their .565 xW% trounced the previous high for a non-playoff team (.529)
*Their .669 roto win% (percentage of possible roto points) trounced the previous high for a non-playoff team (.607, posted incredibly enough by the 13th-place '10 Knucklebusters)
*They are the first non-playoff team to finish better than 6th in xW or T-6th in roto; they finished 4th in xW and 5th in roto. I was going to say 'only', but the Soup finished 5th in xW and 6th in roto this year.
So it's not just a question of an inflated win percentage thanks to expansion- their rankings in the league reflect that they belonged in the playoffs, though ultimately their actual ranking does not indicate a division-related injustice.

Week 15 comment: Same old, same old
As of week 15, it was looking like the Soup might do their usual thing- finish with a low playoff seed and then exit the playoffs early. Though the Soup ultimately finished 8th, they were 5th in xW, 6th in roto, and finished squarely in the .540-.580 range that they like so much (.558). Not quite right, but close enough, I think, especially since an 8th-place finish looks a little better with 16 teams.

Best category: K
Worst category: SV
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting
Other thoughts: If the King's Men are the best team not to make the playoffs, the Soup are probably the second best, for reasons mentioned above. I say we put the Soup, King's Men, Longgui, and Foes all in one division next year, so the King's Men and Soup can have their fair shot at settling the score.

Week 15 comment: Prarie Home fantasy team
The comment referred to the Bombers always finishing above average and in the top half of the league. As predicted, though the Bombers were once again above .500, their 9th place finish is both their lowest finish ever, and the only time they've failed to finish in the top half of the league. It would make some sense to draw the line after the Bombers, given that they were the last team over .500 and finished 11 games and 50+ percentage points ahead of the Sauce, but them's the breaks (so far as maintaining meaningless statistical accomplishments go).

Best category: K
Worst category: WHIP
Hitting or Pitching: Pitching
Other thoughts: As always, the Bombers preferred quantity to quality. The Bombers had a .586 xW% in the 6 counting stats, but just a .406 xW% in the rate stats. The resulting .180 differential is the second largest in the league by a large margin, with the vall Bangers and Sauce preferring rates by .116 and the Lumberjacks preferring counting stats by .110. The team with the largest differential? The Sluggers, thanks to their complete lack of PAs or IP over the last half of the year. The Sluggers had a somewhat-respectable .385 xW% in the rates, but an abysmal .141 in the counting stats. The vall Bangers just barely edged out the E's for best overall rate performance (.638 to .634), while the Lumberjacks stomped everyone in counting stats (.711, E's second with .657).

Week 15 comment: Unluckiest team
As was the case when I made the comment, the Sauce weren't technically the unluckiest team, as they trailed the Quaggas, -7.87 wins to -8.63 wins. However, unlike when I made the comment, the Sauce would not have made the playoffs even with their luck neutralized, and while that's likely a product of their luck (in the sense that the Foes were buyers and the Sauce were sellers), it's pretty hard to argue at this point that the King's Men (-6.57) weren't the unluckiest team.

Best category: SV
Worst category: W
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting... ish
Other thoughts: The Sauce finished in second and won a title in their first year in the league. In the five years since, they have not finished above .500, and have finished no higher than 7th, giving them the second-longest playoff drought in the league behind the Cougars.

Week 15 question: Playing the spoiler?
The opportunity was there, but the E-Claires didn't really do much spoiling. They lost 6-4 against 4 of their playoff-race opponents (King's Men, Soup, Foes, Ducklings), lost 6-3-1 to the Lumberjacks, and 8-2 to the E's. In fairness, though, while the E-Claires were facing teams with a .610 combined xW% going into week 16, the reality was even worse, as their combined opponent xW% those 6 weeks was .623, which is a better winning percentage than the Foes posted.

Best category: SB
Worst category: SV
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting
Other thoughts: Although the 9th place Bombers were the last team over .500, the 11th place E-Claires, and everyone above them, were over .500 by xW and roto percentage. In other words, about 69% of teams this year were above average.

Week 15 comment: Loner-est team
As of week 15, the Teabaggers were further away from their neighbors in the standings than any other team, and it wasn't particularly close. That's no longer true, as they closed the gap on the E-Claires. However, the xW and roto standings tell a different story (or rather, the same story told by the week 15 standings). The 12th-place-in-everything Teabaggers trailed the 11th place E-Claires by 16+ xW, and the 11th place Bombers by 30.5 roto points. They led the 13th place Cougars by 15+ xW, and the 13th place Quaggas by 14.5 roto points. In terms of xW%, they were the only team between .500 and .350, and at .423 they were squarely in the middle.

Best category: SLG
Worst category: K
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting... ish
Other thoughts: It's hard to consider the Teabaggers for most balanced team against teams like the E's and Ducklings, given how much further down in the standings they were, but there's a case to be made. The Teabaggers were 12th overall in roto and xW, and 12th in both hitting and pitching by each metric. By xW they finished 12th in 4 categories; by roto, 5. By both metrics, they finished in 10th, 13th, or 14th in every other category save for finishing 9th by roto in RBIs. They had between 7.23 and 10.13 xW in every category; in contrast, every team above them had at least one category in which they earned 13.9+ xW.

Week 15 comment: Same old, not quite same old
The Cougars have been extremely consistent in finishing in the lower .400s, but they slipped this year. As of week 15 they were at .343, and things didn't change much the rest of the way, resulting in a .348 finish. Not a good sign for arguably the RBL's least successful franchise.

Best category: SB
Worst category: SV
Hitting or Pitching: Pitching
Other thoughts: The Cougars were one of just two teams (Sluggers) to have no weeks of 5+ xW. The Wallaby had one such week, while the Quaggas had three.

Week 15 comment: On the decline, long-term
In the last 6 weeks, the Wallaby pulled their win % up somewhat, from .323 to .345. Nonetheless, the overall trend remains concerning for the Wallaby; despite making the playoffs twice in their 4 years in the league, the Wallaby now have a sub-.500 record as a franchise, and have fallen behind the Sauce, who (as mentioned) have been below .500 for the past 5 years.

Best category: K
Worst category: SLG
Hitting or Pitching: Hitting
Other thoughts: The Wallaby are the only team in the league with fewer than 10 xW in every category. They are also the only team in the bottom four with at least 5 xW in every category.

Week 15 comment: Stolen bases
After stealing just 12 bases in the first 12 weeks, the Quaggas stole 16 in weeks 13 & 14. From that point on, the Quaggas were better than their earlier pace, stealing 13 bases across 6 of the final 7 weeks, but were still easily on pace for the worst mark in league history. However, the Quaggas posted another 11 steal week in week 18, getting them up over 50 for the year. Although that still falls well short of the low (66) set by the 10K last year, the two 11-steal weeks were the difference between the Quaggas' 52 and the Sluggers' 35. Incidentally, the Sluggers stole 21 bases in the first 7 weeks, putting them very close to the 10K's pace from last year, but stole just 14 over the final 14 weeks.

Best category: K
Worst category: WHIP! Bet you didn't see that coming!
Hitting or Pitching: Pitching... ish
Other thoughts: The Quaggas are the only team among the bottom five to finish higher than 9th in a category, either by xW or roto (7th in both in Ks). Of the top 11 teams, the fewest number of top half categories for any of them was the Bombers (4 in roto; several tied with 5 in xW).

Week 15 comment: Worst in RBL history
The Sluggers actually did improve over the last 6 weeks, thanks to a strong finish in the rate stats. They pulled their win % over .200 (.219), and their xW up to 50.17. Both marks are, of course, still league worsts.

Unfortunately, the Sluggers actually declined in roto points, from 15.5 to 14. The only non-16th place finishes for the Sluggers were OBP (15th) and WHIP (13th). That's the problem with having so few IP and PAs- the impact on your roto bottom line is that much smaller. Correspondingly, the Sluggers had a much better showing based on xW category ranks- 14th in OBP and SLG, 13th in ERA, and 11th in WHIP, the equivalent of 23 roto points.

Best category: WHIP
Worst category: SV
Pitching or Hitting: As tempting as it is to say 'neither', the actual answer is pitching.
Other thoughts: I think it's significantly more likely that in the next, say, 5 years, we see a team that's better than the '11 vall Bangers, than it is that we see one worse than the '13 Sluggers.

Overall 'Awards'

Best category

Winner: Lumberjacks, SV
Only 5 team-categories reached 16 xW, and only 2 reached 17. In SV, the Lumberjacks reached 18.87 out of a possible 21, and had the record to match, at 19-2.

Runner-up: Soup, K
A little unlucky, the Soup were that other team over 17 (17.3), but went 'only' 16-5.

Honorable Mention: King's Men, ERA
Only a 13-8 record, and a great, but not elite 15.13 xW, but the King's Men were the first team to post a sub-3 ERA for the season (2.990).

Honorable Mention: Sluggers, WHIP
They went 11-10. Admit it, you never would have guessed the Sluggers were over .500 in any category. Their 11 wins in WHIP account for more than 25% of their entire win total.

Worst category

Winner: Sluggers, SV
One save, courtest of Carlos Marmol, and an 0-19-2 record. The previous low for SV in a year was 7 ('11 10K).

Runner-up: Sluggers, R
More xW (2.13 vs. 1.93) than the SV, but a worse record (0-20-1). Still, 422 is a lot more than 1... even if it is a good 200 below the previous league low.

Honorable mention: Quaggas, WHIP
At 4.8 xW, and not even last in roto (their 1.395 was well clear of the Wallaby's 1.422), the Quaggas' WHIP situation doesn't seem all that bad. And yet, they managed to go 1-20, which is a hell of a thing in a rate stat.

Who needs pitching?

Winner: vall Bangers
3rd in hitting, 10th/11th (xW/roto) in pitching. Only playoff team not in the top 6/5 (xW/roto) in pitching.

Runner-up: E-Claires
Only other team with an offense more than 4 ranks ahead of their pitching staff.

Who needs hitting?

Winner: King's Men
Near inverse of the vall Bangers- 2nd in hitting, 9th in pitching.

Runner-up: Longgui
4th/3rd (xW/roto) in pitching, 8th/10th in hitting. Only playoff team not in the top 7 in hitting.


Ties have been on the decline for years:
2010: 132 ties, .449/team/week
2011: 118 ties, .421/team/week
2012: 88 ties, .314/team/week

I'm also confident that when I last looked into this (sometime in 2012, I think), I actually went back and tabulated the ties from earlier years, and that this represented a trend that went back to 2006 or so.

Well, that trend is no more:
2013: 148 ties, .440/team/week

That's still below the 2010 level, but it's a dramatic reversal of the sharp downward trend from recent years. I think this is yet another byproduct of expansion.