Thursday, May 03, 2012
Most exciting games (and teams) of AprilPosted by Chris Jaffe
Last year, I wrote an article for THT trying to figure out the best postseason series of all-time based on a semi-basic formula I’d figured out. I took some of the elements that made a game memorable and applied it to the postseason.
It occurred to me, I can just as easily apply this formula to regular season games and figure out what are the most exciting and dramatic games of the year. So I’ve done that.
First, what makes a game exciting? There are a few things I look for—late-game drama and lead changes, walk-off wins, going into extra innings, a close final score, comebacks, and great personal performances. For hitters, that just means hitting multiple homers in a game, and for pitchers tossing a shutout, and/or a game with few hits allowed (with a no-hitter or perfect game getting real big points).
The full formula can be found in the references & resources section of last year’s article. I made two minor tweaks here: 1) lessening the points for going into extra innings, and 2) increasing points for no-hitters/perfectos.
That said, here are the five best games of April:
5. April 28, 2012: Dodgers 4, Nationals 3 (10)
It’s an extra-inning game that ended with a walk-off home run. The ninth inning was a wild one. Washington scored a pair to take a 3-1 lead, only to see LA storm back with two of their own to tie it, 3-3.
4. April 21, 2012: Yankees 15, Red Sox 9
Ah yes, this one. Boston blew the biggest comeback of the month here, a nine-run lead. A game is worth a lot of points with a big comeback.
3. April 14, 2012: Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 7
Ah, Coors Field. A real back-and-forth game. Arizona led, 1-0, then Colorado went up 5-1 only to see the Diamondbacks storm back for a 7-5 lead in the middle of the eighth. Todd Helton ended it with a two-run walk-off home run.
2. April 8, 2012: Tigers 13, Red Sox 12 (11)
It wasn’t enough that Detroit had to score three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score at 9-9. No, they had to spot Boston a pair of runs in the 11th before completing their incredible victory with three runs in the bottom of the 11th.
1. April 21, 2012: White Sox 4, Mariners 0.
It’s the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Of course, it’s No. 1.
Using the same system, I can figure the teams who had the most and least exciting April. Please note it doesn’t matter if the team won or lost—just how exciting their game was.
The most exciting month: Washington Nationals
Three times they’ve won a game on a walk-off play. All three came in extra-innings. Their April 18 game against Houston saw both teams come from behind to take the lead. On April 15, they overcame a 5-0 deficit to the Reds only to lose in 11 innings. Washington also lost the fifth most exciting game of the month. In all, it’s a pretty busy month.
Least exciting month: Atlanta Braves
Let’s start with what they haven’t had. There are no extra-inning games. No walk-off finishes. You get points for late game drama, but Atlanta has played in exactly one game where either they or their opponent tied the score or took the lead in the eighth inning.
One unexpected oddity: Even though one-sixth of all games in major league baseball scored at zero points—nothing especially distinctive happening in them—the Braves had only one such game. I wouldn’t expect that from the least exciting team.
Yeah, but while an average big league game scores at 6.7 points, Atlanta achieved that only three times all April long. They’re games are rarely completely lacking in anything especially exciting; they just regularly have very little excitement.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.