The above lament was a comment I heard many times over the course of my baseball playing days. The premise was simple: Putting the ball in play is better than striking out. You never know what can happen when you hit the ball… there could be a hit, a fielding error, etc. It’s pretty seldom that you reach base when you strike out.
Let’s throw some numbers on the above theory:
Major League teams last season were 612-936 (.395 winning percentage) when their hitters struck out 10 or more times in a game. The Tampa Bay Rays led the majors with 81 games (exactly half of their games in 2017) where their line-up struck out 10 or more times in a contest. The Milwaukee Brewers led the National League teams in this stat; their hitters struck out 10 or more times in 80 games. (For Brewers fans, the Brew Crew went 32-48, a.400 winning percentage, in those games.)
It’s interesting to note that last year’s World Series champs, the Houston Astros, had the fewest number of games with 10 or more strikeouts in 2017 with 21. Coincidence?
Here is the number of games each MLB team struck out 10 or more times last season.
62-Chicago White Sox
55-L.A. Dodgers, N.Y. Yankees
32-Atlanta, Kansas City
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On June 13, San Francisco’s Matt Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league baseball history. Since that 10-0 win for the Giants, the team has won only four of their next 10 games. Before you respond, “So what?” consider this: In the 10 games after the White Sox Philip Humber pitched his perfect game on April 21 of this year, the White Sox won only four and lost six.
You might think that after a big, monumental game in a team’s history (like a perfect game) that the team would then venture off into a winning streak of five or six games or win eight of their next 10. That certainly has not been the case. To quantify this theory, we looked at the 22 perfect games and how well each team did after this historic game. (Note: Because Mike Witt‘s September 30, 1984 perfect game came on the last day of the season, and Don Larsen’s October 8, 1956 perfecto happened in the World Series, we did not include those two perfect games in this analysis.)
In looking at 20 of the 22 perfect games pitched in MLB history and how well those teams performed in the next 10 games after their perfect game, we discover that:
* The team’s whose pitcher threw the perfect game compiled a record of 88-106-1, a .454 winning percentage, in the ten games after the perfect game (for Addie Joss‘ October 2, 1908 perfect game, the Indians played five more games to end the season).
* Only seven of the 20 teams had a winning record (6-4 or better) after the perfect game.
* Of the last six perfect games (all since 2000), each of the teams whose pitcher threw the perfect game finished under .500 in their next 10 games.
Here’s a look at the teams that had the best post-perfect game 10-game records:
Record, Team (Perfect Game pitcher, Date)
8-2 New York Yankees (David Wells, May 17, 1998)
8-2 Cincinnati Reds (Tom Browning, September 16, 1988)
7-3 New York Yankees (David Cone, July 18, 1999)
7-3 Los Angeles Dodgers (Sandy Koufax, September 9, 1965)
7-3 Providence (Monte Ward, June 17, 1880)
6-4 Boston (Cy Young, May 5, 1904)
6-4 Philadelphia (Jim Bunning, June 21, 1964)
Here are the three teams with the worst records in the 10 games following a perfect game.
Record, Team (Perfect Game pitcher, Date)
1-9 Montreal (Dennis Martinez, July 28, 1991)
2-8 Oakland (Catfish Hunter, May 8, 1968)
2-8 Worcester (Lee Richmond, June 12, 1880)
Teams that were the victim of a perfect game have actually fared better in the 10 games following the perfect game. Teams that were the victims of a perfect game won 100 and lost 94 in the 10 games (a .515 winning percentage) after the perfect game (the Chicago White Sox played four games to finish the season after Joss’ perfect game). Nine of the 20 went on to have a winning record in the next 10 games following the perfecto tossed against them. Most recently, the Tampa Bay Rays went 8-2 after being on the losing end of Dallas Braden’s May 9, 2010 perfect game.
Of the two teams this year who were victim to a perfect game, Seattle and Houston, both went 4-6 after that historic game.
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With apologies to Milwaukee Brewers fans, Arizona’s Kirk Gibson will likely be selected the National League Manager of the Year when awards are handed out. Milwaukee’s Ron Roenicke did a fabulous job in his first season with the Brew Crew leading them to a N.L. Central Division title, but Gibson’s D’Backs made significant strides in his first full year at the helm. Consider:
* The D’Backs became the fifth team in major league history to make the playoffs after multiple 90-loss seasons (Arizona lost 92 in 2009 and 97 in 2010). The last team prior to Arizona to accomplish this feat were the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008; they made the playoffs after ten straight seasons of 90 losses or more, the major league record. The other three teams: Detroit in 2006 after five straight 90-loss seasons; Atlanta in 1991 after four straight 90-loss season; and the first team to accomplish this feat, the 1967 Boston Red Sox, who had three straight 90 or more loss seasons before making the playoffs in ’67. Four current teams are hoping they can replicate Arizona’s turnaround from this year… Pittsburgh has now had seven straight 90-loss seasons; Baltimore has had six, Kansas City has had three; Seattle had their second straight 90-loss season in 2011.
* Arizona made the largest win gain of the 30 big league teams from 2010 to 2011. The D’Backs won 94 games in 2011, 29 more than the 65 they won in 2010. Here’s a look at the biggest gainers and the biggest losers in terms of wins from 2010 to 2011:
Biggest gainers in wins: Arizona +29; Milwaukee +19; Pittsburgh +15; Detroit +14; Cleveland +11; Washington +11
Biggest drops in wins: Minnesota -31; Houston -20; San Diego -19; Cincinnati -12; Colorado -10
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001. Who was their manager that season? Answer at the end of the blog.
Did you know? The Philadelphia Phillies not only won 102 games this season (the only team with 100+ wins) but they also increased their win total for the fifth straight season. In 2006 the Phils had 85 wins; they have increased their win total each year to 89, 92, 93, 97, and 102 this past season. This is the longest active win increase streak in baseball. Texas has increased their win total in four straight seasons (75, 79, 87, 90 and 96 in 2011). On the down side are the Chicago Cubs; they have gone from 97 wins in 2008 to 83, 75 and 71 (in 2011).
TRIVA ANSWER: Bob Brenly was the Arizona skipper in their 2001 World Series winning season.