Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fee, Fi, Fo Runs

The Yankees don't like low scoring affairs. At least the Yankees of the last 171 games don't. I intend to extend my analysis further, but I thought I'd post a brief snapshot of a trend that I don't particularly care for as a fan, and as a Yankee enthusiast.

Over the last 171 games, which includes the 2005 regular season, AL Division Series, and the opening 4 games of the 2006 campaign, the Yankees record in games in which they score fewer than 5 runs is awful (21-57). I decided to compare the 2005 seasons of both the Yankees and the World Champion Chicago White Sox to see how they stack up against one another in this respect. Leaving the 2006 season out of the conversation, and comparing apples to apples, I found the following:

2005 New York Yankees
5 or more runs scored - regular season (76-15, .835)
4 or less runs scored - regular season (19-52, .268)

5 or more runs scored - post-season (0-1, .000)
4 or less runs scored - post-season (2-2, .500)

2005 Chicago White Sox
5 or more runs scored - regular season (67-19, .779)
4 or less runs scored - regular season (32-44, .421)

5 or more runs scored - post-season (9-0, 1.000)
4 or less runs scored - post-season (2-1, .667)

These numbers show me that the Yankees played 71 regular season games in which they scored 4 or fewer runs. The White Sox played 76. It's a similar sample. The Sox managed 13 more wins in low scoring affairs. That means they got more out of their pitching and defense. Both teams were successful in high scoring affairs. You should expect to win anytime your offense puts up 5 runs. It's those nights when the bats aren't going well that you need to scratch and claw out a victory in order to avoid extended losing streaks. Either way you slice it, Mariano Rivera is sitting on the bench, and that's not good if you're a Yankees fan. Let's look at some revealing numbers.

The Yankees posted 4 losing streaks of at least 4 games last season. During those streaks they scored less than 5 runs in 14 out of 17 games. Had they been able to get a decent pitching performance in a handful of those games they could have avoided the slide, and saved themselves some grief in the process. This season they've started out 1-3, and the trend has held up. Their current losing streak includes three straight games in which they could not put up 5 runs. In the coming weeks I will examine this further. In the meantime, let's all keep an eye on the Yankee trend and see if they can escape the 4 run quicksand they're in.