Baseball Esoterica

October 27, 2005

2,500 Games Later...It's Another Sox!

Some game and series esoterica:
  • Chicago surpassed Houston in every major offensive stat in the series...except walks! That's pretty weird, because...
  • As mentioned in my last post, the Chicago pitching staff has been extremely frugal with free passes, yielding a mere 13 in their first 10 playoff games, up to WS Game 2. So how unbelievable is it that in their 11th they set the record for most walks in a World Series game, giving up 12?? I don't have data for 2005 yet, but they'd only walked 12 or more three times in their previous 1,400 games dating back to 1996!
  • Houston struck out 36 times in 143 at-bats...that's a K every four at-bats! For a player, that would be a 150-whiff pace, meaning Chicago pitching made all Houston hitters into Preston Wilson. During the season, they averaged one every 5.3 AB, sixth in the NL.
  • Check out the White Sox relievers' crazy line for Games 3 and 4. It's reminiscent of an AJ Burnett masterpiece.
    HR ERA
    9.0 2 1
    Nine of the 11 pitchers did not allow a hit. For the series, Chicago's relievers gave up a hit in only four of their 16 appearances. Only five did not allow a baserunner, though.
  • The Sox only scored six more runs than the 'Stros. I haven't checked it out, but I that's got to be the record--or just off it--for the smallest margin in a four-game sweep. It's reminiscent of the 2000 Series, when all five games were one- or two-run games.
  • After a season of no home runs and one triple in 129 games, Scott Podsednik had three three-baggers and two homers in 12 post-season games. In fact, he had three total in just the four-game World Series! After getting to actually watch him drive the ball into the right-centerfield gap and sprint around the bases, how the heck did he not hit a triple until September??
  • The White Sox had two batters, Geoff Blum and Willie Harris, finish with a 1.000 average. Blum also had a 5.000 OPS!

October 24, 2005

More Runs, Less Walks

A few extra bits about yesterday's game:

  • Once again, Guillen did not use his bench, and with good reason: the Sox are hitting up and down their lineup. In Game 1, eight of nine starters got a hit. Game 2? How about all nine. Only Iguchi has failed to hit in both games!
  • When Bobby Jenks walked Chris Burke in the ninth inning, it ended an amazing string of White Sox stinginess. Sox pitching hadn't issued a free pass since the fourth inning of Game 5 of the ALCS, a span of 86 batters! (And, of course, that walk then scored the tying run!)
  • 12 different players scored the 13 runs in yesterday's game.
  • Believe it or not, the 13 runs scored made this the highest scoring game in more than two weeks. It was 15 games ago, on October 9, that Chris Burke scored the last 13th run of a game in a certain 18-inning affair.
Extra Esoterica
So Brad Lidge has now surrendered game-winning homers to one player with 41 in the regular season and one with...yikes! In their their last 900 AB (including post-season), Pujols had hit 65 dingers. Pods? How about four. Wow. Check out Jayson Stark's definitive account of these strange goings-on.

October 20, 2005

Low Variance, High Esoterica

It's been pointed out that in the NLCS, neither team scored more than five runs for the first time in a while. But I've noticed that this is not an isolated phenomenon. If we make the standard 10 runs for two teams rather than five runs for one team, the trend persists throughout the almost all playoff series. In fact, 20 of this year's 26 playoff games have featured 10 or fewer runs, including all 11 LCS games! I don't have data for 2005, yet, but in 2004, the average game featured 9.6 runs, so this is like two regular season days of games being way below average.

But wait, there's more!

What makes this note transcend to the next level of esoterica is that, despite all the low scoring games, there have been no shutouts! The closest regular season couple of days like this since 1993--when offense spiked above nine runs a game--was on August 5 and 6, 1993, when 10 or fewer runs were scored in 22 of 28 games, with nary a shutout.

With the pitching matchups scheduled for the Big One, we just may ascend further into rarified esoterica.

Extra Esoterica
The "best" pair of days like this since 1960 (min. 26 games) was August 19 and 20, 1977, when 25 of 28 games fit these criteria.

October 19, 2005

Is One Bigger Than Five?

OK, here's a little quiz. Look at the following table. Which team is the Angels in the entire five-game 2005 ALCS and which is the Yankees in Game 3 of last year's ALCS? No cheating!

Team A Team B
Runs 19 11
Hits 22 27
Players with 3+ hits 4 4
Players with 5+ hits 1 0
Players with 2+ RBIs 5 2
Players scoring 2+ runs 4 2
Walks 5 4
Doubles+Triples 9 6
Home Runs 4 3
Total Bases 44 41
Stolen Bases 0 2
AB 47 154
Well, that last line kinda gave it away, but I'm sure you'd already figured it out. Unbelievable.

Extra Esoterica

  • During the season, the Angels averaged a paltry 2.8 walks a game, good for 24th in the majors. But over both of their playoff series, the entire team averaged…I still don’t believe this…0.9 walks per game (nine walks in 10 games).
  • Hideki Matsui’s five Game 3 hits in 2004 is more than any Angel over the entirety of this year's series!

  • Late Breaking News: The Yankees achieved a rare (I think) esoteric feat in that game: six consecutive batters in their order drove in a different number of runs.
    Slot Player RBIs
    3 Sheffield 4
    4 Matsui 5
    5 Williams 3
    6 Posada 1
    7 Sierra 2
    8 Olerud 0
    If you're a fan, you'll remember that this also happened this year, just three weeks ago, as described in the post Craps, Anyone?. And if you remember, it was done...against the Yankees!

October 13, 2005

(Again) Too Little, (Again) Too Late

For the fourth game in a row, the Cardinals have scored the first four-plus runs of the game, got outscored afterwards, and had the tying run unsuccessfully come up to bat!

They did this in all three games against the Padres, as discussed in this post. And then, last night, sure enough, they jump out to a 5-0 lead (again)--dominating the first six innings (again)--then allow an ultimately futile Houston rally which nonetheless brought up the tying run (again).

This is just too weird. Baseball is patterns don't repeat themselves four times in a row. I mean, St Louis simply won four in a row--with any pattern--only twice after the All-Star Break.

So check out this breakdown. During innings one through six of these four games, the Cardinals' opponents came to bat 24 times, and scored in only one of those at-bats. But in innings seven through nine, the Cards' opponents came to bat 12 times, and scored in nine of them!! This is beyond "Well, their starters are great and their bullpen is terrible." It defies logic.

Extra Esoterica
St. Louis won 100 regular season games despite never winning more than five in a row. That has got to be a record. I bet almost every team just this year had at least one six-game streak. By the way, they never lost more than three in a row, either. They're just the most consistant SOB's ever, I guess! [I will look into these notes and report back soon] Oddly enough, including the last three games of the reglular season, tonight's win was their seventh in a row!

October 11, 2005

Vlad the Paler

No Horde of the Rings
The Yankees have now gone five years without a Ring. Actually, on their post-season roster, those who have won a championship with the Yankees outnumber those who have won for Boston by only 5-2! And players who have gone all the way with another team outnumber them 8-5.

Everyone's talking about A-Rod...
A-Rod's five game RBI-less streak in the series is not unprecedented, though still somewhat of an anomaly. This year, Rodriguez had only one streak of at least five games without an RBI, when he had an 11 game slump between May 27-June 7. Interestingly, he had driven in a run in eight of nine games before the extended dry period! He had two four-game streaks, as well.

But what about Vlad?
He didn't drive in a run all series, either. And didn't have an extra-base hit. If Matsui had hit a home run in the ninth last night and won the game, I bet all the chattering would have cast Vlad as the goat. It's less surprising from him, though. This season, he had two long RBI-poor stretches: he drove in two runs in a 16-game span between May 6 and June 12 (including a trip to the DL), and only one run in another 16-game span from August 16-Sept 1.

Extra Esoterica
  • Sluggers Sheffield and Rodriguez combined for one extra base hit in the series.
  • Nine of the ten Yankee pitchers gave up a run in the series.
  • The Angels had only two more walks (5) than triples (3)!
  • Darrin Erstad and Adam Kennedy combined to score one run.
  • Backup catcher Jose Molina batted 1.000 in the series (1-for-1). Chone Figgins pulled off that same feat for Anaheim in the 2002 ALCS.

October 10, 2005

No Joy, No Surprise

Glad I'm not a Braves fan. In their unprecedented 14-season playoff run, 13 times they have fallen short, and 12 different team have done the trick. Check it out:

Yr Res Opp Rnd
1991 Lost Minnesota WS
1992 Lost Toronto WS
1993 Lost Philadelphia NLCS
1995 Won Cleveland WS
1996 Lost NY Yankees WS
1997 Lost Florida NLCS
1998 Lost San Diego NLCS
1999 Lost NY Yankees WS
2000 Lost St Louis NLDS
2001 Lost Arizona NLCS
2002 Lost San Francisco NLDS
2003 Lost Chicago NLDS
2004 Lost Houston NLDS
2005 Lost Houston NLDS

The Astros just joined the Yankees as the only teams to do it twice.

Here's their series results. There was no NLDS before 1995.

Won Lost
Won Lost
1995 Won Won Won
1996 Won Won Lost
1997 Won Lost
1998 Won Lost
1999 Won Won Lost
2000 Lost

2001 Won Lost
2002 Lost

2003 Lost

2004 Lost

2005 Lost


After earning a spot in the World Series in four of five years, they've been in only one of the past nine. Atlanta has now participated in ten consecutive post-seasons without winning it all. And to top it off, after losing six of seven series in the '00's, they now have a losing record in post-season series at 12-13. And poor Smoltzie has been there for every one. Sigh.

October 09, 2005

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

While reading today's Elias Says... on ESPN, two items caught my interest:

  • Craig Biggio hit three doubles Saturday, two of them going to left field and one to center. Biggio had 67 extra-base hits during the regular season, 64 of which were hit to left field (he had two to center, one to right). Biggio had the highest percentage of pulled extra-base hits among players with at least 50 extra-base hits this season.
This made me think of the other night when Chone Figgins legged out a triple hit to left, and I thought "Wow, you don't see that often". And then a light bulb. In one of my Triples and Stolen Bases posts, I wondered how a player could hit so many doubles but so few triples--especially those with a bunch of stolen bases--and postulated that they were "anti-hustlers". But maybe they were just right-handed extreme pull hitters? Here are the single-season leaders, again. Anybody know about these guys?
Name Year SB 3B 2B
Miguel Dilone 1978 50 0 8
Mariano Duncan 1986 48 0 7
Davey Lopes 1985 47 0 11
Jose Canseco 1988 40 0 34
Rickey Henderson 1999 37 0 30
Bob Dernier 1983 35 0 10
Eric Davis 1993 33 0 17
Frank Taveras 1980 32 0 27
Derek Jeter 2002 32 0 26
Larry Lintz 1976 31 0 0
Lenny Dykstra 1992 30 0 18
Jeff Bagwell 1999 30 0 35
And this one:
  • Aaron Small, 10-0 during the regular season, was the first pitcher ever to lose a postseason game following a season in which he was 5-0 or better. Two pitchers suffered postseason losses after seasons in which they were 4-0: Larry Gura of the 1976 Royals and Chad Qualls of the 2004 Astros.
Gee, if you read this blog, you would have (pretty much) known this already....Hmm, maybe they're readers??

Too Little, Too Late

It was a weird series for San Diego. They managed to average a respectable 3.7 runs/game, but talk about late starters--they never scored until St. Louis scored at least four runs! In the series' three games, they started down 8-0, 4-0, and 7-0. But, despite that, San Diego amazingly got the tying run to the plate in all three games before losing 8-5, 6-2, and 7-4! Check out the composite boxscore:
STL  2 4 5  2 6 0  1 1 0
SD 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 3 3
First six innings: Cards 19-2
Final three innings: Padres 9-2

So there must be a crazy starter/bullpen split, right? Yeah, you can say that.

STL Starters 18.2 16 3 3 7 9 0 1.45

Bullpen 8.1 16 8 8 3 8 3 8.64

SD Starters 10.0 17 17 15 8 9 3 13.50

Bullpen 15.0 12 4 4 5 8 0 2.40
The Cards' bullpen better revert back its regular season 3.22 selves, or else it may be trouble next time!

Extra Esoterica:
I wonder if this is the first series in which every run total was unique. Easier to show than to describe: the Pads scored 2, 4, and 5 runs, and the Cards 6, 7, and 8 repeats!

October 08, 2005

Yankee Deja Vu, Esoteric Style

Well, yes, we all know that this series is following the same pattern as the 2002 Division Series (An aside: if it's called the Division Series, why can't teams from the same division play each other?? But I digress). No, I, of course, am referring to something a little more esoteric.

Last night's game was a weird back and forth, with the Angels scoring five to take a 5-0 lead, then the Yankees coming back with six to take a 6-5 lead, and then the Angels scoring six more, themselves, to go up 11-6. Each rally took at least two innings, with the other team waiting politely until the other had finished.

Believe it or not, a mere 10 days before (as covered in this post), the Yankees lost a game in which nearly that exact thing happened, as well. After New York took a 1-0 lead, Baltimore scored five in their next two turns up to take a 5-1 lead. The Yanks answered back with six in their next two at-bats to go up 7-5, only to have the O's score eight in their next couple of innings to regain the lead, 13-7. Crazy stuff!

Extra Esoterica

  • Aaron Small lost in his first post-season appearance after going 10-0 in 15 regular season appearances, including nine starts!
  • Six Yankees had exactly two hits. Everyone else? How about none?
  • A tidbit I neglected to mention about the O's-Yanks game: of the eight New York pitchers used that game (two off the nine-inning record), Mike Mussina had the lowest post-game ERA with a unimpressive 4.41. The ERA's of all of Baltimore's five pitchers were lower.

Sox's Sixth Surprise

I thought I'd do a special weekend post on a bit of the boxscore from last night's Sox-Sox game.

Did you happen to see the game? Well I didn't. I checked out the boxscore and the line that stood out to me was Damaso Marte's:

F Garcia
D Marte (H, 1) 0.0 1 0 0 2 0 0 16-7 ###
Wow, I thought, how'd that happen? The next pitcher must have gotten out of it! But I looked up and saw that Boston had actually scored a run in the sixth. Huh? So I proceeded to the play-by-play and, as it turns out, this was the unusual turn of events:
  Garcia pitching for Chicago
  • Ramirez homered
Marte relieved Garcia
  • Nixon singled
  • Mueller walked
  • Olerud walked
Hernandez relieved Marte
  • Varitek popped out
  • Graffanino popped out
  • Damon struck out
Now that doesn't happen every day!

This sequence demonstrates a case in point why a middle reliever's ERA is less than meaningful and holds are even less so: Marte comes into the middle of the game (the sixth) and retires none of the three batters he faces. If Hernandez allows a routine fly ball, or a bases-clearing double, Marte would have been charged with all those runs (and his ERA would be...ooooh...infinite). But because of Hernandez's heroics, he comes out spotless...and with a hold! Hernandez, actually, for his three nearly perfect innings in a one-run, series-clinching game against the defending world champs, got a hold, too. That's gotta be the worst, most meaningless hold of all time followed by perhaps the most meaningful!

October 07, 2005

Great Pitching Only Gets Ya So Far

In August, I mentioned that Texas went 3-9 in a string of games in which they scored at least 5 runs in each. Well, in September, the Mets did the opposite. In their first 13 games of the month, they never allowed their opponent to score more than 5 runs...and went 2-11. Through the first 17 games of the month, they allowed only 61 runs, or only 3.6/game while going 4-13. I guess that could be because they only scored 49 (2.9/game) themselves. (For those of you counting, that an average of only 6.5 runs combined per game!)

And that all came after a historic two-game outbutst in which they scored 32 runs. It took them 13 games to score 32 more. And they reached as many as seven runs just once in the next 33 games.

Extra Esoterica:
The Mets finished their season with an interesting series of occurrences. In each of their last three series, two pitchers with the same last name either won or lost consecutive games!
  1. On 9/23, the Mets' Roberto Hernandez picked up the win in relief against Washington; the following day, Livan Hernandez beat the Mets.
  2. On 9/27, the Mets' Juan Padilla got a relief win against the Phillies; the next day, Philly's own Padilla--Vincente--beat the Mets.
  3. On 9/29 and 9/30, the Mets defeated two Kims: Colorado's Sunny and Byung-Hyun.
What makes this even more impressive is that this comes on the heels of their celebrated August 7 Zambrano-Zambrano affair!

October 03, 2005

When the Dust Settles...Right Back Where You Started

On September 8, Arizona and Pittsburgh combined for 5 ninth inning runs, and the game went into extras. For both teams to score a bunch of late runs and end up tied is pretty cool in my book, so it made me wonder what was the wildest "when the dust settled, everything was exactly tied" game.

As it turns out, there was--woo hoo!--an anomalous game! Mmmm...anomalous. One game stood out head and shoulders from the rest, defying probablilties and standard deviations.

Since 1969, six pairs of teams managed to combine to put up nine ninth-inning runs on the board, only to continue playing. But one game in 1994 blew them all out of the water with an astounding twelve!

Going into the ninth, Toronto led California 8-6 after putting up a five-spot in the eighth. But then, in the top of the ninth, to really put it away, they scored five more to take a 13-6 lead...only to allow the Angels to score exactly seven in the bottom of the ninth to tie it! They then lost it in the tenth. Oops!

This is also the game with the most eighth and ninth inning runs combined to go to extra innings...four more than the next highest game! This is definitely a future Esoteric Boxscore of the Day.

So this is how it went:

Start of eighth: 6-3
Start of ninth: 8-6
Final score: 14-13

Pretty amazing, eh?