Monthly archives: September 2006
The Bitter Half?
At the start of July the world champion White Sox were battling the Tigers for the best record in baseball. On July 2, as the Sox played their 81st game, an 8-1 loss to Baltimore, they were 2-1/2 games behind Detroit with a 53-28 record and a .654 winning percentage. They were on track to win 106 games which would have been the most wins for a second-place team ever (if the Tigers won their projected 112 games).
The Twins were ten full games behind Detroit for first and 7-1/2 behind Chicago for second. They were fourth behind Chicago,1-1/2 games behind the Yankees (six games back of the Sox) and a half-game behind the Blue Jays (7 GB) at the bare fringes of the wild card hunt. Meanwhile in the NL wild card hunt the current co-leaders were in fourth (the Dodgers, 2.5 GB) and eighth place (the Phils, 6.5 GB).
Things are, of course, much different today. The Twins and Yankees now have playoffs spots locked up. The Red Sox, who were leading the AL East by four games, have fallen to third. The Phils and Dodgers have supplanted the then-wild card leader, the Reds. And, of course, the White Sox have been eliminated from the post season after a 14-1 loss coupled with an 8-1 Twins win yesterday.
The Sox's record so far in the second half is 34-42, .447. Their winning percentage decreased by 207 points in the second half. It's among the worst declines in baseball history. The Red Sox are not far behind, losing 183 points from their first half winning percentage (from 50-31, .617 in the first half to 33-43, .434 in the second), good enough for 39th on the all-time list.
As for the best improvement in the second half this year, the Angels lead the pack with a 183-point improvement followed by, surprisingly, the Pirates (173) and not so surprisingly, the Phils (143). They aren't enough to make the 25 best second-half improvements, however:
By the way, if the Astros fall short in their pursuit of the NL Central or the wild card crown, both of which seem like long shots, with the White Sox already eliminated this would be the first season since 1991 that both World Series teams from the previous year woulc not be part of the postseason (ignoring 1993-94 when the Blue Jays and Phils did not have an opportunity to defend their league championships). It would the 40th time that both have missed the next season's playoffs, though it's gotten much rarer as the number of playoff teams have expanded during divisional play.
The Sox and 'Stros will at least avoid being one of six World Series pairs to have losing records the next season. Here is the worst winning percentages for the two teams who met in the previous year's Series (Houston/Chicago have a collective .527 winning percentage as of this morning):
By the way, the best records for Series teams that both missed the playoffs the next season are:
And yes, the 1954 Yankees and Dodgers both lost the league titles, to the Indians and Giants, respectively.
Waiting to Digest
Now good digestion wait on appetite,
The Phils are battling the Astros, losing 5-4 right now. If they win, they would go a full game up on the Dodgers for the wild card lead. They would also officially eliminate the reeling Marlins and Giants, and all but eliminate the Astros and Reds. With six games against the lamb duck Joe Girardi's Marlins (whom they just swept) and the last-place Natswhile the Dodgers play the at least mediocre Giants and Rockies, the Phils would look pretty secure If they lose, they fall back into a tie with LA, and four other teams would still be active.
No matter whether the Phils win the wild card or not, they have already done something that only a handful of teams have done. They will be one of twelve teams to have grabbed a lead for a league, division, or wild card for the first time in Septemberthough as a Phils fan, I would rather have them clinch a playoff spot.
By grabbing the wild card lead on September 23, the Phils become the fourth latest team to grab a playoff spot (if you count the 8-4 Milwaukee Unions in 1884). Here are the latest:
The Long and the Short of It
Yesterday with the Nats winning 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth Saul Rivera replaced John Rauch to pitch a scoreless inning and put the Washington win in the books. There was nothing unusual in that, except that Rivera (5'11") is a full foot shorter than Rauch (6'11").
I wouldn't have noticed except for a mention in the SABR-L email list. So I looked it up.
Here are all the teammates who were at least a foot apart in height. For all but the last four, at least one pitcher had one relief appearance. The earliest short-tall pair may have been Gene Krapp and the ubiquitous Cy Falkenberg in 1911. The greatest height difference between two pitchers who were teammates was 14 inches:
Was Neil Young Right?
OR Does Rust Never Sleep?
OR Is it better to burn out than to fade away? (Now watch me pull this rabbit out of my hat!)
As promised, I will now take a look at how clinching a division or league title either very early or very late affects a team's prospects for the playoffs. Do teams that clinch earlier have an advantage in the playoffs and World Series? Does the extra time to rest one's starting players and set one's rotation give a team an advantage when the playoffs roll around or does it make the team rusty?
But before we can examine those issues we need to define what we need by clinching late and clinching early. I took all of the division and league winners, calculated the number of games remaining after they clinched their title, and then divided them into three groups, the early, late, and average clinchers. The early clinchers had 8 games or more remaining when they nabbed their title (120 teams). Late clinchers had three or fewer games remaining (130 teams). The ones in between fell into the average rubric (97 teams).
Now that we have our groups, let's see what they look like. What are their stats on average:
No big surprises here. Teams that clinch earlier have better records (whether you look at their average winning percentage or the percentage of games that were won po-tA-to, po-tat-o) and are more games ahead (GA) of their next best opponent. But it is surprising that the overall average is much better than the late clinchers as a group and slightly better than the average clicher.
Next let's look at the raw numbers for division/league titles, World Series won, number of teams, and percentage of teams that won a World Series:
It looks like average clinchers have ended up winning the Series at almost the same rate as early clinchers. Of course, late clinchers win a bit less frequently.
Finally, let's look at what teams do after they clinch. I summed the number of regular-season and post-season games won and lost for each group. Here are the results:
You can see that teams win much less frequently after they clinch a title than before they clinched. This seems like human nature. Also, the dropoffs get considerably worse the later a team clinchers. Early clinchers winning percentage after clinching is just 69 points worse than their overall winning percentage. Average clinchers have a 100-point difference, and late clinchers, 131.
So early clinchers are the best teams, they continually to be the best teams after they clinch as well. Does that mean that they have the best winning percentage in the postseason as well? Ah, no.
The average clinchers are actually slightly better (.524 to .521), and late clinchers lag far behind (.454). So what does it all mean?
It seems that the rust never sleeps theory does apply. Too much idle time even for seemingly a better population of teams based on the overall and the post-clinching winning percentage is a bad thing when it comes to the postseason.
It also means that those teams that are in dogfights until the last weekend of the season are at a distinct disadvantage in the postseason.
But I guess it does make sense if you consider a few things. Teams that have some time to rest starting players and set their rotation (average clinchers) have an advantage over those that just squeak into the postseason. However, too much time starts to become a disadvantage apparently because the added rest and lineup/rotation setting is minimal after a certain point and the rust factor, i.e., playing long stretches of games that no longer really matter starts to wear on a team at least ever so slightly. And that's even as those teams are continuing to win, which is the odd part. I guess the fact that all teams naturally decline slightly after clinching, even though the early clinchers decline the least, they do have the longest period in decline.
Neil Young was not only prescient when it comes to grunge and post-grunge rock (though that vocoder never took off), he knew his postseason baseball as well. Hey Hey, My My!
The Dodgers, you may have heard, hit four consecutive home runs the other day. It was the first time that any team had hit four straight since 1964 and only the fourth time all time. Any home run record in which Marlon Anderson is involved is definitely an oddity.
I was wondering what the odds were of those four players hitting four consecutive home runs. I looked up the home runs and plate appearances for each, took their home run ratio (HR/PA), and then found the product of all four to get the odds for this odd event. Here goes:
One out of three hundred odd thousand seems pretty unlikely, which makes one wonder how it ever happens at all. So I looked up the teams with the best odds to do it all-time, assuming that the four players with the highest homer ratios all batted back-to-back:
Jason Maxwell? Orlando Merced? Keith Ginter? Again I repeat, how did any team ever hit four straight homers? Next time I'll ask Mr. Owl.
In The Clinch
So the Mets finally clinched the NL East title yesterday after three unsuccessful tries against the lowly Pirates. Even so, the Mets nabbed a playoff spot earlier than any other team, with 13 games left to play.
That made me wonder what team was the earliest to clinch a division or league crown. I looked it up and below are the results. The Mets are actually tied with eleven other teams for the 28th earliest. Had they won their first game against the Pirates, and therefore, clinched with 16 games to go, they would have been among the top 16 earliest teams to grab a title:
Note that only six of those clubs actually won the World Series. Which brings me to the next topic in this ever popular series: Do teams that clinch earlier have an advantage in the playoffs and World Series? Does the extra time to rest one's starting players and set one's rotation give a team an advantage when the playoffs roll around or does it make the team rusty? However, that's a topic for another night.
Failure to Clinch
As a Phillies fan, I have been sitting back enjoying the difficulty the Mets are having putting the final nail in their last division rival's coffin (i.e., the Phils). The Mets were swept by the Pirates over the weekend while the Phils took three from the reeling Astros.
The Phils, of course, have no hopes of winning the division at this stage of the season. They are really vying for the wild card, and are now just one game behind this morning's odd man out in the NL West a.k.a. the wild card leader, the Dodgers.
It's really the only pennant race that still matters, sadly. Yes, the NL West has been a dog fight and if the Twins should topple the Tigers in the AL Central, it could be an historic comeback. However, the loser in either case is still in control of the wild card spot. The Tigers would have to out-choke the '64 Phils and the Chisox would have to get very hot in order for Detroit to miss the playoffs. The Dodgers may lose the division but do have a one-game cushion in the wild card to soften the blow a bit.
The Phils are the only team that has a legitimate shot at a playoff spot that don't have a plan B to fall back on. That alone may be the best argument for Ryan Howard's MVP case, whether the Phils nab the wild card or not.
Anyway, the travails of the Mets made me look into how teams have clinch their division or league titles in the past. What I found was that there were a number of teams that won titles without ever clinching anything.
Of course, this has happened three times in the wild card era due to the eccentricities of the new tiebreaker rules. Since 1994, if two teams are tied for the division title, and the loser would still be the league's wild card, there is no need for a one-game playoff. The winner is determined by a labyrinthine set of tiebreakers: head-to-head competition THEN intradivision record THEN record in the past 81 league games THEN their record in their last "n" games (meaning games prior to the last 81 so long as they are not against each other, starting with the 82nd and then preceding backwards to the start of the season).
In 2005, the Yankees were declared the AL East champ with one game to play and the Red Sox one game back since if they ended up tied, they both has qualified for the playoffs and New York had a better head-to-head record (10-9). The final game was between the Yankess and Red Sox at Fenway. The Red Sox won 10-1 to make the playoffs. The Yankees rested their starters midway through the game since the game was (relatively) meaningless to them. Had the Yankees beaten the Sox and the Indians beaten the AL Central Champion White Sox on the final day, the Indians and White Sox would have played a one-game playoff for the wild card. The reeling Indians lost 3-1.
In typical Red Sockian fashion, Boston declared themselves co-AL East champs even though the rules in place said otherwise: "Co-division champs. That's what I'm calling it," Red Sox owner John Henry said after the game. "I can understand why there isn't [a playoff], but frankly, I would have liked to have had one. It would have been nice to settle the division championship." And even the Red Sox biggest, or at least most influential supporter, Bud Selig felt the need to chime in, "If I were running the Red Sox, I would declare myself cochamps one could make that case."
In 2001, the NL Central winner, Houston, was decided in a similar fashion. The Astros were tied with the Cardinals but won the head-to-head series (9-7), so St. Louis had to settle for the wild card.
In 2000, the A's finished a half-game ahead of the Mariners (91-70 to 91-71). The A's were not forced to play their last game (a postponed game at Tampa Bay) because they won the season series 9-4 against the M's.
Prior to the eccentricities of the playoff tiebreakers in the wild card era, there were a number of divisions who never clinched at least according to the typical tiebreaker rules.
In 1972, the Red Sox trailed the Tigers by one-half game with one fewer game played (86-70 to 85-70). The Red Sox lead Detroit by one-game going into the final series of the season, which had both teams facing off at Tigers Stadium. The Tigers took games one and two, 4-1 and 3-1, to go up 1-1/2 games. The Red Sox won the final game, 4-1. Even though the ALCS did not start until three days later, the schedule that year was shortened after a strike at the start of the season. The remaining schedule was the schedule, and the Tigers were declared the division champs. Given that Detroit took two of three from the Sox, they didn't have much of a case.
In 1938, the Cubs (89-63) won the NL crown by two games over the Pirates (86-64). However, the 1938 season was 154 games. Both teams had two ties (probably called on account of weather or darkness) that were never replayed. The Pirates missed two other games (probably postponements) and, therefore, had a decision in just 150 games. The Cubs of course, went on to be swept in four games by the Yankees and were outscored 22 to 9. Maybe it didn't matter who the National League sent up against that team, but today those games would be made up, probably during the season, and a clear-cut winner would established (unless one team would be the wild card of course).
In 1935, the Tigers (93-58 with one tie) won the AL title by three games over the Yankees (89-60). However, the Tigers were three games short of a full schedule (if you include the ties), and the Yankees failed to play five games.
In baseball's formative years, there were oddities with the league winners on almosta yearly basis.
In 1915, the last Federal League title was decided by percentage points. The Chicago Whales (86-66, 3 ties) somehow beat the St. Louis Terriers (87-67, 5 ties) even though they had two fewer decisions.
In 1908, the Tigers won the AL crown again under odd circumstances. They had a half-game lead over the Indians, 90-63 to 90-64. The Tigers had one tie and the Indians 3.
In 1907, the Tigers (again) won the AL crown by 1-1/2 games over the Philly A's (92-58, 3 ties vs. 88-57, 5 ties) even though the A's had one fewer loss and failed to play 9 games (5 ties and 4 cancellations).
In 1906, the White Sox (93-58, 3 ties) won the AL title by 3.5 games over the Highlanders nee Yankees (89-61, 4 ties). Both teams played the full slate of 154 games if you count the ties, but again if the ties were replayed, potentially the AL winner might have been different.
In 1905, The A's won the AL crown by two games over the White Sox even though they were tied in wins. Philly had a 92-56 record (4 ties) and Chicago had a 92-60 record (6 ties).
In 1904, the Boston "Americans" (i.e., not-yet-Red Sox) topped the then-Highlanders by a game and one half even though they were tied in losses, 95-59 (3 ties) to 92-59 (4 ties). Shades of 2005 with different team names.
In the one-year Players National League (1890), the Boston Reds (81-48,1 tie) beat the Brooklyn (Ward's) Wonders (76-56, 1 tie) by 6.5 games. But I defy you to tell me how many games constituted a full slate for this league. Teams played between 128 and 138 games. Boston played 130 and Brooklyn, 133.
In 1889, both leagues had some odd circumstances surrounding their league crown. The New York Giants won the NL crown by one crown over the Boston Red Stockings (cum Braves) by one game although they both had 83 wins (83-43 with 5 ties vs. 83-45 with 5 ties). The American Association crown was won by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (i.e., Dodgers, 91-44, 3 ties) over half a game over the St. Louis Browns (i.e., Cards, 90-44) though both had 44 losses.
There were also many leagues (1884 Union Association, 1884 AA, 1890 AA, and 1891 AA) that had teams fold without being officially eliminated from the league crown.
So the next time you see a nice, neat list of division and league winners, just keep in mind that a number of those teams won under less than spotless circumstances. And while you are laughing at the Mets for their clinching woes (which will likely change with four at home against the Marlins), keep in mind that there are a number of championship teams that never clinched a damn thing.
The Phils won both ends of their doubleheader in Atlanta to close the gap in their wild card hunt to 1-1/2 games behind the leader (San Diego). The Marlins (3 games back) and apparently the Giants (2.5 GB, if they lose to the Rockiesthey trail 8-5 in the seventh) are falling out of the race after recent surges.
Meanwhile the Twins after losing starter Francisco Liriano, lost 1-0 to Oakland, but remained just 1.5 games behind the faltering Tigers after they got slammed by the Rangers, 11-2, including a Sarge Matthews Jr. cycle. The White Sox, after a 9-0 win over the Angels, pull to 1.5 games behind the Twins in the wild card hunt and three games behind the Tigers for the AL Central.
While I was trying to put all of this in perspective, a number of questions occurred to me. The Twins have not been in first all season. If they do pass the Tigers and win the division, will it be the latest that any team moved into first place and then won the division/league? Will they have the fewest days in first for a division winner?
Will the Tigers lose their title later in the season than any other team in baseball history? Will they own the dubious distinction of being in first for the most days in the season without winning a title?
If the Phils don't nab the wild card title after coming as close as one half game behind without ever leading the hunt, will that be as close as any team came in second half of a season without grabbing the proverbial cigar?
OK, I don't think that the Twins have a chance of grabbing a division/league lead later than any other team. The 1873 Boston Red Stockings took over the lead of the National Association on Oct 1 (the league played until November 1). For a more modern example, the '64 Cards grabbed the NL lead on September 29 from the Reds, who wrested it from the ill-fated 1964 Phils three days earlier. There are only five teams that have ever grabbed a division, league, or wild card lead in September and held it, and only two have come in the "modern" era. Here are the latest that a division-/league-winner ascended to first for the first time in a season:
As for the fewest number of days in first for a division, wild card, or league winner, the answer is one. But it's a trick question. The Royals reached the postseason in the split-season 1981 season, but were only in first (based on overall record) for one day. Here are the fewest days in first for a division winner:
Here are the teams that spent the most days in first and won their division, etc.:
As for the team that spent the most days in first but ended up losing the division or league, you have to look at the 1969 Cubs (151 days) who were passed Sept 10 by the Miracle Mets, and the rest is history. Here are the rest of the unlucky lot:
As for which teams were passed the latest in the season, you have to look to the old Chicago White Stockings (nee Cubs) who lost the National Association crown on October 30. These are the teams that lost their crown at the latest dates in the season:
As for the team that came the closest to leading a division, league, or wild card race in the second half of a season (from July 1on) without ever actually leading it, the answer is the 1915 Tigers, who were actually a half game ahead of the Red Sox for two days, August 19 and 20 (at the end of a nine-game win streak), but trailed them by percentage points in the standings. Here are the teams that were within a half-game of a playoff spot but never took control of that spot:
Two Far Gone?
By allowing a two-game advantage become a four-game split, the Phils this weekend allowed a great opportunity to both bury the division-rival Florida Marlins and to get themselves in the thick of the wild card hunt.
After the Marlins series, the Phils now find themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the wild card hunt, 2-1/2 games behind the Padres. That's one-half game closer to the wild card than they were before the split, but it is also a three-way tie as opposed to the two-way they had with Florida before the series.
So where are the Phils now, let alone the Giants and Marlins? Are two and one-half games a lot at this time of the season?
And what of the three other teams (Cincinnati, Houston, and Atlanta) that are within five games of the wild card lead? Do they have a legitimate shot of securing a playoff spot?
Well, let's look to the past to see
Well, the last team to come back from at least five games back on September 10 were the 1964 Cardinals. They were tied for second with the Reds behind the ill-fated '64 Phils. For the team before that, you have to go back to the 1891 Boston Beaneaters, and there is just one other team (the 1873 National Association Boston Red Stockings) that came back from at least five games back on September 10.
OK, so it seems pretty clear that teams that are more than five games out have virtually no chance of making the playoffs, but what about the next tier of teams that are, say, between two and five games back.
Of all the teams that were between two and five games back in a league, division, or wild card race on September 10, only six made the postseason, the last being the 1973 Mets (the 2005 Yankees were four games out and then won the division; however, they were just 1.5 games out in the wild card).
Here are all the teams that were more than two games back (on 9/10) and then made the playoffs (including the 2005 Yankees):
Here is a breakdown of the teams' records as of 9/10, after 9/10, and in total:
Now if we expand our study to teams that were two games back (as of 9/10), the number of teams almost doubles, from nine to sixteen. The 1998 Rangers and 2000 A's meet this criterion.
Here are the new teams that meet our criterion:
And there records:
That seems to be the tipping point: If a team is two games back, they have a decent shot at the postseason. Anything beyond that seems to be very longshot at best. So even though the NL wild card has appeared to be the most wide open of all the races, it seems now to be just the consolation prize for whichever team, the Dodgers or Padres, lose the NL West.
The most wide open race right now is for the AL Central, where two teams should make the postseason. Even though Detroit's lead is shrinking, they seem to have a spot, either as AL Central champ or as the wild card. The Twins can catch them, win the wild card, or get passed by the White Sox. The Sox's only shot at a playoff spot appears to be by passing the Twins for the wild card.
Generalisimo Julio Franco is Still Playing Third Base
48-year-old Julio Franco made a rare appearance at third yesterday for the Mets. He played two innings and made two assists on the two balls he fielded.
I say that it was a rare appearance since his last foray at third came 24 years ago when Franco was a shortstop prospect for the Phils who got a September cup-o'-Joe callup. Franco would be part of the five-for-one Phils trade for Von "Purple" Haze that winter. In the Sunday game, Franco doubled his career assists and chances at third: He played two games with two assists at the position in his only year with the Phils.
Franco is now the second-oldest man to ever play third behind Jimmy Austin, who played game at third at age 49 in 1929. Austin basically retired years before, but as a coach for the Browns he was inserted in blowout games. In the 1929 game, he handled both chances his way.
Here are the oldest prior to Franco to play third:
Big Popup Is Right!
I love to see how all the Red Sox have their priorities straight. Today, David Ortiz opined that his team's demise, which they currently suffering through he should remember, should not bar him for consideration for the AL MVP award.
I'll let the erudite Ortiz speak for himself. He's so precious:
"I'll tell you one thing," Ortiz said. "If I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBI [which would give him 137], that's going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have."
It's not often that a player this lionized can run down his teammates" Come hit in this lineup "while inflating his own worth. Like every foul fly ball down the line that Ortiz tries to turn into a home run by intimidating an umpire, he's trying to pull a shell game with the MVP award, confusing and conflating the issues.
He cites Alex Rodriguez's MVP award on a last-place team to justify his own. But Rodriguez had great offensive numbers and won a Gold Glove at arguably the toughest defensive position. It's the same position that Derek Jeter plays, though arguably not as well, which is one reason that he is a better choice to win the MVP than Ortiz, even though his being a position player is just an "excuse" to give him the award to Ortiz.
Ignore the fact that Jeter not only plays a defensive position, but plays the toughest one on the field. Ignore the fact that Jeter's team played and won games that actually mattered for making the postseason while Ortiz's did not. Jeter still tops Ortiz in both Baseball Prospectus's VORP (73.4 to 64.5) and batting Win Shares (23.4 to 22.5).
Jeter's having a more valuable year at the plate than Ortiz. And he plays a key defensive position. And he's on a division winner. Ortiz does not have a leg to stand on.
That said, Ortiz probably isn't the best choice for the award on his own team. He's probably the sixth or seventh best choice in the entire league.
Here are the AL leaders in VORP and Win Shares seeded by their average rank in both:
So why does the press let Ortiz twist the argument in his favor? On the anniversary of 9/11, one cannot overestimate how easily the press can be misled. If the lemmings in the press continue to fawn on him and allow him to frame the arguments for MVP, who knows, maybe he can win it. Of course, if it comes down to merit he really should have no chance to win.
Waiting for No-No
The Marlins' Anibal Sanchez no-hit the D-Backs, 2-0, tonight as the red-hot Marlins finally tied the phloundering Phils for second place in the NL not-so-wild card hunt. The Phils and Marlins square off for a four-game series in Miami starting tomorrow. I expect the Phils to pull a Red Sox and witness the end to their postseason hopes sometime around Saturday.
Anyway, the media are making quite a bit out of the two-year wait between major-league no-hitters. It is significant, but it's not the longest wait in major-history as many are reporting.
The longest wait was actually for the second recorded no-hitter, on August 19, 1880 by Larry Corcoran. The first no-no came July 15, 1876. Here are the longest waits all-time (source data from ESPN.com):
For fun, here are the shortest waits. 18 times fans had three or fewer days to wait, five times they didn't even have to wait one day:
Bursts of Energy
Beat! beat! drums!blow! bugles! blow!
The other day, the Yankees trailed 5-1 with ten strikeouts after seven innings against KC's Luke Hudson. The Royals lifted Hudson for Jimmy Gobble, and the Yanks went on to score ten runs in the top of the eighth en route to a 12-5 win. The Royals switched pitchers twice before they registered an out, and they eventually went through four pitchers in the inning. The Yankees amassed seven hits, two of which were homers, and three walksand zero left on baseon the inning.
It made me wonder what were the fewest runs ever scored by a team that had a 10-run burst. It turns out that there have been 123 games in baseball history in which a team scored ten runs in one inning and no more than two in the rest of the game. There were 25 games in which a team was shutout out for an entire game besides a ten-run outburst, the last being a 10-2 win last year by the Phils over the Marlins with all ten runs coming in the top of the inning.
Here are all 25 games. You'll note that two ended up losses for the team scoring the 10-run burst:
At the other end of the spectrum, there have been 39 games in baseball history in which a team scored at least ten runs besides a ten-run one-inning outburst. Here are the ones with the most runs scored outside of the big burst inning:
In the 378 ten-run innings in baseball history (hopefully I didn't miss any this seasonI had to eyeball the data), the big-inning team won 372 times or 98.4% of the time. On average, the big-inning team scored 10.74 runs in their big inning and 4.62 outside of that inning. In fact, they were outscored on average by their opponent (5.10 runs) by about one-half runof course, they had an extra inning in which to score it.
Also, the fifth inning has the most 10-run outbursts (56) followed by the first and eighth (both 50). The ninth has the least (23), which seems anticlimactic but, considering that the home team often does not bat in the bottom of the ninth, makes sense. There were just two ten-run innings in the ninth by the home team. There have also been three ten-run innings after nine innings.
Here's the breakout by inning:
Here are the two ninth-inning outbursts by the home team, one of the two being a loss:
Now, here are the extra-inning, 10-run innings:
Earlier this season, the same Royals that get slammed by the Yanks' ten-run eighth the other day, scored ten runs in the bottom of the first and still lost, 13-15 in the tenth to the Indians. According to the Royals site and their outmoded Elias data, it was just the second time in baseball history that a team scored ten runs and still lost the game. Of course, I found four other games, three of which came in 1912 and all of those were big nine-inning rallies:
Finally, to beat this dead horse a bit more, here are the only games in which a team scored ten runs in an inning twice, one being the classic Cubs-Phils 26-23 game in 1922:
Here is the only doubleheader in which a team had a ten-run inning in both games:
Here's the only game in baseball history in which both teams scored ten runs in an inning:
Here are the only days in which ten runs were scored in one inning in two separate games:
I guess I have to stop now since I can't think of another way to milk this data.
Passing the Baton?
Cole Hamels and Roger Clemens battled to a 3-2, tenth-inning pitcher's duel won eventually by Rick White over Dave Borkowski. Clemens lasted just five and left with a strained groin with the game tied 1-1 (actually he trailed 1-0, but Houston scored in their half inning before Russ Springer relieved Clemens). Hamels lasted until the eighth but also left with the game tied, 2-2.
The 'Stros were on their sixth pitcher, and the Phils even worked Matt Smith, their compensation from for Bobby Abreu AND Corey LidleHa Ha Ha!before Chase Utley homered to keep the Phils slightly above .500 but still in striking distance of the NL wild card hunt as they do their typical best at asymptotically approach some semblance of a playoff race.
When the Reds topple the Giants 3-0 to pull into a fourth in the wild card hunt, three games back both with a stunning 69-70 record, you know you have a special kind of race.
Anyway, when Clemens and Hamels faced off, a rarity in baseball took place: a pitcher opposed another twice his age. Hamels is 22 while we no longer know how old Clemens is without splitting him in two and counting his rings.
I thought it would be interesting to look up all the faceoffs between two starters with one being twice the age of the other. I found 120 through 2005.
Clemens is the only man to appear on the list as both the younger and the elder pitcher.
Here are the pitchers who appeared the most as the elder pitchers in these sorts of faceoffs:
And here are the most appearances by a youngsters:
Finally, here are all 121 contests starting with the Hamels-Clemens game and going back to the between Pud Galvin (33) and Willie McGill (16) in the 1890 Players League.
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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