Watching the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday night, it suddenly struck me to wonder how the two teams compared as franchises. How, that is, the long-standing rivalry between the Democrats and the Republicans on the baseball field would look if we treated them like actual major league baseball teams. Is this a Yankees-Red Sox sort of thing, historic franchises with a legacy of contentiousness? Or was it more like the Diamondbacks against the Rockies, a rivalry that maybe some people care about but, if so, why?
One way to look at that, I figured, was to compare the historic win-loss record between the two teams with the win-loss records of teams in the majors. Using data from Wikipedia, we learn that, in the 82 contests for which there is some record, the Republican team has prevailed in 42. Interestingly — and thanks in part to the Democrats’ recent dominance on the field — the left’s fielders have held the right’s to fewer runs. The cumulative score (save some years for which the score isn’t known) is 685-655 for the Dems.
That information in hand, I looked for a list of how major league teams had fared against one another historically.
I couldn’t find one. So I made one.
Using data from Baseball-Reference.com, which is to baseball data what IMDB is to movies — but better — I pulled regular season records from every current franchise since 1917 and tallied victories and runs scored relative to each other team. Now this is only the current iteration of teams, mind you; the Dodgers’ information doesn’t include scores from Brooklyn and the Nationals’ doesn’t include numbers from when the team was the (lol) Expos.
That said, here’s the matrix that results. The more darker-colored squares in a row, the more success that team has had against its opponents historically.
(You can click on that to see a larger version.)
Unsurprisingly, the team with the best record relative to the other teams is the Yankees, which is what you get when your team is actively supported by Satan. In second is Boston and, third, the Dodgers. The worst team? A three-way tie between the Padres, Marlins and Brewers.
The Yankees lead in scoring differential, too, outscoring their opponents by a total of 15,630 runs. The Cards are in second. Only 10 of the 30 teams are in positive territory when it comes to runs scored versus all of their opponents. The Phillies are in dead last, having been outscored by nearly 8,000 runs.
The greatest scoring differential, as you might have guessed based on the paragraph above, is held by the Cardinals against the Phillies. In addition to winning 59 percent of the games between the two franchises, the Cards have outscored the Phillies by nearly 3,000 runs. (There’s an interactive below where you can compare teams against each other.)
The best record one team has against the other? Remember, it hasn’t been that long that National and American League teams played against one another in the regular season, which skews the numbers a bit. But the Mariners (AL) have won nearly 87 percent of their games against the Reds (NL).
What about situations like our congressional one, where one team has the advantage in victories but the other the advantage in runs? That situation has happened in 51 of the 870 possible combinations. The matchup that’s most like our Democrats-vs.-Republicans? The Nats vs. the Brewers. The Nats have only won 49 percent of the times the two teams have played, by our count, but have cumulatively outscored Milwaukee by 18 runs.
The second-closest analogue is another local team. The Orioles have beaten the Braves 48.7 percent of the time they’ve played in the regular season, but have scored slightly more runs.
So there you go. The Nats and the Brewers, two teams that have a small regional fan base but, generally, people aren’t that interested in. In that sense, too, a good analogue for Congress.