December 12, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Baseball data buddy James Gentile did a little more research about first-inning pitch counts, and helped uncover a pretty interesting fact.
When teams are tied at the end of the first inning, the team that threw 10 or more additional pitches in the first inning wound up winning the game only 48 percent of the time. In other words, a 10-pitch lead in first-inning pitch differential is worth a couple of points in winning percentage. This data covered all games that were tied at the end of the first between 2002 and 2012.
Think of it this way: the home team usually wins about 54 percent of the time. Home field advantage is worth four points of winning percentage. Having a 10-pitch differential in the first inning in your favor is worth about two points—half of the home field advantage.
Sounds just a little significant, don't you think? Here's a little more breakdown...these are for games tied at the end of the first, grouped by the differential in pitches thrown in the first. The percentage refers to the ultimate winning percentage of the team that threw fewer pitches in the first inning.
1-5 pitches: 50.6% (7,098 games in the sample)
6-10 pitches: 50.0% (3,893 games)
11-15 pitches: 51.9% (1,338 games)
15-20 pitches: 51.8% (334 games)
21+ pitches: 40.9% (just 66 games; you may safely ignore this one)
Many thanks to Bill James for helping us think it through.
Royals 13, Twins 0: Hard to envision any more of a domination than this. A four hit shutout for Jeremy Guthrie while the Royals offense puts up a baker's dozen. Jamey Carroll was literally the most effective pitcher of the game for the Twins. Eric Hosmer drove in five.
Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2: Fifteen straight road wins for the Dodgers. That's ... improbable. Two more road wins in a row and they tie a 97 year-old NL record owned by the Giants. The '83-'84 Tigers own the all-time record with 21.
Tigers 4, Indians 2: The Indians can be as hot as they want to when they play everyone else but this inability to beat the Tigers is kind of a drag for them. Detroit scored all four of its runs in the ninth thanks to Chris Perez totally melting down. The rally was capped by an Alex Avila three-run homer.
Braves 3, Nationals 2: That's 11 straight for the streaking Braves, who extend their lead to 13.5 games in the NL East. Justin Upton homered. This race is run.
White Sox 8, Yankees 1: All the fuss was about A-Rod, but the real story here may be another old guy: Andy Pettitte was absolutely awful, letting baserunner after baserunner reach while allowing seven runs in two and two-thirds. We may have reached the end of the Pettitte road, folks. Four driven in for Alex Rios
Giants 4, Brewers 2: Three hits for Brandon Belt and a broken bat RBI single for Jeff Francoeur to put the Giants ahead to stay. After the game Francoeur talked about adjusting his stance and returning to some toe-tapping timing thing he used in Atlanta but got away from in Kansas City. I'm sure that means he's all fixed now and will return to 2005 form.
Astros 2, Red Sox 0: You can't stop Brett Oberholtzer, you can only hope to contain him (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER).
Rangers 5, Angels 2: Adrian Beltre homered, Martin Perez pitched effectively and the Rangers won their seventh in eight. Nelson who?
Blue Jays 3, Mariners 1: A three-run rally in the eighth helps R.A. Dickey to his first win in a month. Big crowd on hand as a ton of British Columbians came down to see Brett Lawrie play. Canadian hordes, really, in all likelihood doing recon for an impending invasion.
25 years ago today, the Tigers posted a milestone win in franchise history. No one knew it at the time, but it was a key moment for the club.
On Aug. 6, 1988, the Tigers topped the Red Sox, 4-2. So far, so what. That doesn’t mean much.
It was their fourth straight win, and pushed Detroit 23 games over .500. Okay now we’re getting at it. You see, 23 games over .500 (66-43) would be their high water mark on the season. They’d stumble the rest of the way, dropping 31 of their last 53.
That win on Aug. 6, 2013 gave Detroit an all-time cumulative franchise record 573 games over .500: 7,052 wins versus 6,479 losses. That’s the highest it’s ever been.
They’d tie that mark twice over the next week, but never surpass it. Then they stumbled down the stretch in 1988. A disastrous 1989 campaign would come next, as they dropped 103 games. The Tigers muddled about for the next several years, before collapsing with a 109-loss season in 1996. After a few more dismal seasons, the team lost 106 in 2002 and then staged their AL-record 119 loss season in 2003. Things have improved for them since then, but they are still a long way from 573 games.
After their weekend sweep over the White Sox, the Tigers stand 269 games over .500 (8,892-8,623), not even half of their peak.
Their low point in recent times was the end of the 2005 season. They stood at 8,221-8050, 171 games over .500. Thus from 1988 to 2005, they were 400 games under .500 (1,169-1,571), which is a .427 winning percentage. That’s like a team going 69-93 per season, which is an impressively bad stretch for a 17-year period.
The Tigers have been over .500 ever since early 1908. That makes sense. They were typically a very good team. They weren’t the Yankees, but then again the Tigers were the only team to never finish in last the entire first half of the 20th century.
That 1988 lineup still had a lot of the leaders of the 1984 world champions. Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell worked the middle infield, of course, and Chet Lemon was still in centerfield. And of course the manager was Sparky Anderson.
Given that it’s the day the franchise record peaked, the pitcher is an appropriate man – Doyle Alexander. The Tigers got him in the 1987 pennant stretch in an all-time great win now versus win later trade. Alexander was a fantastic pitcher for the Tigers down the stretch, but to get him Detroit had to give up a young arm with a big upside: John Smoltz. So yeah, it makes sense that Alexander is the man on the mound for a win just as the sun starts to set on the Tigers for a generation. And that moment happened exactly 25 years ago today.
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