American League teams ready to continue interleague play dominance
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The first round of interleague play for 2012 in major league baseball begins today with 14 contests. Teams like the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox are chomping at the bit for this part of their schedule because of past success in games against the National League foes. Each of these five teams are playing .600 or better baseball over the past five seasons in games against N.L. rivals.
The Angels, who are laboring at seven games behind Texas in the A.L. West, have won 62 and lost only 28 in their 90 interleague games since 2007, a winning percentage of .689. They open interleague play against San Diego, which happens to have the worst record in the N.L. at 14-24. The Padres also have the second-worst interleague record in the last five seasons at 29-49.
Following is a look at the interleague records of each team in the past five years (2007-11).
Team, Interleague W-L, Pct.
Los Angeles Angels 62-28 .689
Boston 57-33 .633
Detroit 55-35 .611
Chicago White Sox 54-36 .600
New York Yankees 54-36 .600
Minnesota 53-37 .589
Texas 53-37 .589
Tampa Bay 51-39 .567
Seattle 47-43 .522
Kansas City 44-46 .489
Baltimore 42-48 .467
Oakland 41-49 .456
Toronto 40-50 .444
Cleveland 36-54 .400
Colorado 45-33 .577
New York Mets 44-37 .543
St. Louis 39-36 .520
Atlanta 38-37 .507
San Francisco 37-41 .474
Milwaukee 35-40 .467
Miami 39-45 .464
Philadelphia 37-44 .457
Arizona 35-43 .449
Cincinnati 36-45 .444
Chicago Cubs 33-42 .440
Washington 37-50 .425
Pittsburgh 29-46 .387 .387
Los Angeles Dodgers 29-49 .372
San Diego 29-49 .372
Houston 29-52 .358
The 40 playoff teams in the past five seasons compiled a 376-296 record (.560 winning percentage) in interleague play in those seasons that they played in the post-season. The 10 World Series teams were 92-78 (.538) in interleague play in the years they went to the World Series. The last five World Champs were 41-40 in interleague play in the seasons they won the title.
Did you know? The Yankees have had a winning record in interleague play in 12 straight seasons, the longest current streak in the majors. The Red Sox have played better than .500 in interleague play in six straight seasons, second in that category. The Cubs, Astros and Blue Jays have each played under .500 in interleague play in four straight seasons, longest current streaks in that category.
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Want a pennant? Get a closer!
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday
Statistically-speaking, what does a team need to do to win a pennant? While there is no definitive answer, here is some food for thought: Taking 18 different team statistical categories, in what team stats did that season’s pennant winners lead the league the year they played in the World Series? Using the last 25 major league seasons (50 pennants) when a World Series was played, here are the results:
Pennant winner led league in: Times
Team Saves 16 (11 times AL; 5 times NL)
Lowest team ERA 15 (9 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team fielding percentage 11 (3 times AL; 8 times NL)
Highest team batting average 11 (6 times AL; 5 times NL)
Highest team slugging percentage 11 (5 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team on-base percentage 10 (5 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team runs scored 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team complete games 9 (2 times AL; 7 times NL)
Most team walks (batting) 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team hits 8 (4 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team strikeouts (pitching) 6 (2 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team stolen bases 6 (3 times AL; 3 times NL)
Fewest errors (defensive) 6 (1 time AL; 5 times NL)
Most team home runs 5 (2 times AL; 3 times NL)
Most team doubles 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Fewest team walks (pitching) 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Most team triples 0
Most double plays (defensive) 0
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the last time the AL team leader in saves played against the NL team leader in saves in the World Series? Hint: The team leaders in saves for the two teams were Dennis Eckersley and Jay Howell.
Now that we know the numbers from the past 25 World Series, can we make a prediction as to who will be the opponents in this year’s World Series? In the American League, the most dominant factor was that 11 of the past 25 pennant winners led the AL in most team saves. This year’s leader as of Sept. 3? The Detroit Tigers. In the National League, the most dominant factor was the team with the highest team fielding percentage. The leader as of Sept. 3? The Philadelphia Phillies. Is there a Tigers-Phillies World Series on the horizon this year? Stay tuned.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The last time the AL and NL team leaders in saves faced off in the World Series was in 1988 when the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in the Fall Classic.