Saturday, July 15, 2023


A quick shot for you as we develop more data built around the ongoing HR run of those seemingly invincible we look at the disenchanted St. Louis Cardinals and ask the question you see above: can bad play in season "chunks" that amounts to just under 25% of the season take you from contender to "lunch meat"?

AND the answer (as we gave away in the subject line...) is "hell yes," as the table at right demonstrates. What you have here are the weekly results for the Cards this year, showing wins/losses overall and in one-run games (St. Louie is going kerblooie in such games this year...) and color-coded into three-week segments (aw, hell, call 'em "chunks" if you Kate sez to Spencer in Adam's Rib: "let's all be manly!") so that we can sum things up tidily in the lower portions (aka "nether regions") of the display...

When we sum things up and re-arrange to see the two 3-week stretches that send the Cards into "crash and burn" mode, that "Bad 6" summary tells a sad (and loud) tale of woe. That 9-27 record compiled in weeks 4-6 and 10-12 is down in A's and Royals territory (.250 WPCT) and is pretty much the death knell of a season. Within that time frame the team also managed to lose 11 of 14 one-run games. 

In the other nine weeks of the season, St. Louis is an OK team, looking a lot like other Cards squads that have had sluggish starts in the first half of the year but have roared back into the thick of things after the ASB. But of course the problem is that the six-week drowning act has put them on the thin edge of little or nothing (which is a very thin edge, indeed). 

We've been suggesting to several of our cronies that the Cards should have engineered a deal for more bullpen help, and should have done so aggressively much earlier in the year. The didn't do that, and they had only one stretch where the pen wasn't an outright liability. It's still a liability, but the ship sailed a long time ago. Odd to see how the Cards' front office was so decisive last July in adding needed pitching, while this year they've been basically asleep at the switch. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 7, 2023


THE folks at Forman et soeur have extended the life of their "Situational Data" module, at least for a little while longer. We hope that this is because they are trying to ensure that all the functionality it contains will still be easily available elsewhere when they finally stick the thing into the oven. (Of course, we really wish they'd leave it alone, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards...and for the sake of Brock Hanke and our other stalwart friends in St. Louis, let's not talk about the Cards!)

We glean our "interleague data" from this module, and it's quick, easy--and it's data that just doesn't seem to be readily available anywhere else. (Small miracles are the ones we most want make sure keep happening--enough small miracles can often compensate for the stubborn lack of larger ones.) And so we again bring you that data, while attempting not to choke on the lump in our throat as we do so...

THIS time we've left out the breakout that reveals quality of play, and are sticking to the basics. We've organized it, as is usually the case, by divisions...what we've added, though is a look at a summary of each division as it's fared in interleague play. 

That includes the percentage differential between the team (and, in the darker yellow summary rows, the division itself) as it's actually played in interleague play (W-L%) and how the Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP%) suggests they should have played,

AS you look at those summaries, we remind you that we hinted at a "sea change" in interleague play the last time we provided an update. That change is still in play: after years of taking it on the chin, the NL is out front, leading the AL 206-189. It's not a big lead (.522 WPCT), but the divisional breakout takes us directly to the cause of the turnaround: the teams in the NL East are (for the most part, anyway) ripping up against their interleague opponents (78-56, a .582 WPCT).

That's noticeably better than the performance of the teams in the vaunted AL East. Of course, two of the teams are doing really well in these games (Jays and and Yankees), with the Rays' pace in these games still solid despite some slowdown. (We wish we could easily break this data out by month, but those resources are just not in place at this point in time--and yes, that's a hint to you, Forman et soeur!)

In the NL East, the Phillies have risen up to challenge the Marlins for top spot in overall interleague WPCT--even though their PWP shows that they're getting a lot of luck in order to do so (18.9% "over their heads"). Their good fortune pales against that of the Reds, however, who have a 39.4% "credit" that has garned them five extra wins over the first half of 2023. 

On the opposite side of the coin, those snakebit Padres and star-crossed Angels are underperforming in actual Ws and Ls despite their RS/RA differential in interleague games. 

And according to PWP, the worst team performance in this subset is neither the A's nor the Royals, but the Rockies (.311 PWP)--though their actual won-loss record is merely mediocre. We forgot to color-code the Pirates, who've dropped precipitously in this data subset after a brief early-season surge.

Finally...remember when the Dodgers and Padres hadn't played any interleague games? They've more than made up for that since then; the team with the fewest interleague games played thus far in '23 is now...the White Sox. 

WE'll be back in a couple of weeks with another installment--and hoping that it will still remain easy to provide this data to you...stay tuned!

Monday, July 3, 2023


IT has been brought to our attention that some folks think that there's not enough "action" here at the blog; as we see it that's really a) a "carry-over metaphor" for the state of baseball itself, or b) an indication that we've gotten into the "hot weather" portion of the year and the red-blooded males who primarily make up our audience would like some titillation to go with their statistical diatribe. 

Never let it be said that we aren't at least occasionally willing to oblige our readership. The young lady in question wishes to remain anonymous, however, preferring only to tell you that the flavor of the featured "fruit treat" is pineapple...

And of course you will forgive us when we segue into the NL data by noting that it is noticeably more "juicy" than yesterday's look at the AL...rim shot, please, and on to the NLC:

We missed a few green color-codes (possibly we were a bit...distracted?) but we trust you will be at least somewhat forgiving. The Reds leaped into first place in this scatter-brained division thanks to hot hitting and a bullpen that "did the right thing" (take a bow, Spike Lee...) at the right time. The chances of them winning at that June pace (18-9, .667) are not high, though, because their starting pitching resembles the still-reeling Cardinals. 

The Cubs actually got 96% of their decisions from their starters this past month, which is clearly the anomaly of all anomalies; but their starting pitching has been consistently the best in the NLC, which might bode well for a surprise run in the second half.

Let's head east before we head west, shall we?

Three hot teams in this division during June: Braves, Phillies and the ever-surprising Marlins. If the Fish could get Sandy Alcantara to pitch the way he did in 2021-22, they could make things really interesting.

The Braves' bats and their bullpen were the key to their hot run (we've covered their hot hitting month elsewhere). They won't have another 13-2 month from their starters with that type of ERA. The Phils had a nice run from their starters in June, but their bullpen has been just under league average for the entire year; they may need the Marlins to take a nosedive to return to the post-season this year.

Just take one quick look at the won-loss record of the Mets' bullpen in, quickly--quickly--avert your eyes!

Unfortunately, the Nationals continue to look for a pitching staff on Hunter Biden's laptop.

OK, enough perfervid humidity, already: leftward ho!

NOTE that the Giants' bullpen has eight more wins (27) than the team's starters (19). We're not sure that something like this has been done over a full season--we'll check into it and get back to you. We'll also check that winning percentage discrepancy (.649 RP/.452 SP). Is any of this sustainable? For now, all we can be somewhat certain of is that Gabe Kapler's yoga mat seems to have burn marks all over it...

The Padres' bullpen is 3-13 since May, which suggests that things in the Border City are just as they've always been: snakebit. 

Starting pitching is what's keeping the Diamondbacks from running away from the other teams in the division, and the Dodgers really need their injured pitchers to return sooner than later before they head into a more permanent form of mediocrity.

And once again, the Rox' bullpen is the only thing keeping them from getting underneath the performance of the AL stalwarts (A's, Royals) that they otherwise resemble.

Sunday, July 2, 2023


The "double number 1's" really do speak for themselves...
WE didn't whiff on this promise, which doesn't quite explain all the commotion you're hearing around you right now...that popping you hear this evening is even louder than those pickleball paddles adding noise pollution across the overheated American landscape...fueled in large part on the left coast by indomitable goddess Devon ("Not the Dude") Zerebko, who played a mean first base back in the day--before finding a way to be born on third.

And so it's come to pass in these days that we have data for you, a compendium of team pitching stats that show the monthly progress (or its opposite) in the 2023 season. We previewed this a couple of weeks ago with a "proof of principle" display; now that June is in the books, we're going to serve it all up to you in two parts, beginning with the American League. 

We'll begin with the AL Central, the semi-catastrophic division (the color coding really says it all).

Recall that the cells that are colored green are, in this case at least, sickly and bad (and probably riddled with woe as well: but woe was taken away from our beat in the latest downsizing, so we can't say for sure). There's a lot of green in the Royals' data here--it is probably leaping out at you right this minute--three cheers for the power of synchronistic persuasion. That's right: KC's starting pitchers are a combined 11-40 this year. 

We're still not certain that the SP% (percent of innings thrown by starting pitchers) and Dec% (percent of decisions assigned to starters) are numbers that really tell us all that much, but we're going to try to find time to collect more data from previous years to see what we can find out. 

The monthly progressions can tell us a good amount, however--for example, the White Sox are rebounding from their terrible April, thanks in large part to resurgence from their bullpen, which has been the best in the division over the past two months. It's a division that remains up for grabs, thanks in part to the failure of the Twins to capitalize on their solid pitching in May, which was followed by a "June swoon" from their starting pitchers.

On to the AL East, the "behemoth" division, where the "fearsome five" have been regressing to the mean...

The Rays and Jays played well in June, with Toronto getting its starting pitching back in shape after a shaky month of May; Tampa Bay got its bullpen back on track in June, offsetting a decline from their starters (due in part to a continuing skein of injuries). 

The Orioles' starters remain a bit shaky, and their monthly records suggest that they have to address some overall performance issues from their staff lest they drift further downward (they lost 2 1/2 games in the standings to the first-place Rays in June). 

Tampa clearly uses its bullpen much more than most AL teams, and that continues to work for them, as their relievers have racked up a 23-13 record despite pitching less effectively overall than their other big rivals, the New York Yankees, whose hitting woes went viral when Aaron Judge suffered a freak injury early in the month and has been out of the lineup ever since. The Yanks have the best bullpen in the league, but it's only 19-15 on the year due to an offense that has been unable to do its job in those games where the team is tied or a run or two behind. NYY has often vultured a lot of wins via their bullpen, running up .650+ WPCT from their relief staff; they'll have to step up noticeably to keep that pattern intact.

The Red Sox are slowly solving their starting pitcher problem (the emergence of Brayan Bello and the return of James Paxton are the key reasons for that) but the bullpen continues to flounder. 

And now, the wild, wild West:

We have some funny displays in our PNG no attention to the weird patterns made by the man behind the curtain. The Astros looked to be gaining momentum in May, but things regressed this past month: injuries and inconsistency are a large part of that story. 

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table (but at the top of the standings...) the Rangers had a chance to run away with the AL West but suffered a downturn from their starters (who were 26-9 in the first two month of the season). 

The Mariners' pitching tanked them in June, particularly an injury-riddled bullpen, while the Angels continue to have problems building a starting rotation around Shohei Ohtani

And then there are those A's, who stunned everyone with a seven-game winning streak, bringing their pitching up from its pervasive rubble-strewn landscape (2-30 from the starters in April/May!) into the realm of the mediocre. (Well, almost mediocre: those OPS+ values are still rather hinky.)

The AL West was 11 games under .500 in June, which is not in the realm of the type of clobbering that the AL Central absorbed (-24), but it's not good. We'll take a look at just how the NL flipped the script in interleague play later in the week; tomorrow, brace yourself for their "monthly pitching role results summary" as you await the next round of popping noises that will continue to pervade a uniquely interminable holiday weekend. Earplugs, anyone?

Saturday, July 1, 2023


 WE wrote a lot about the 50+ HR club here (and teased poor Sarah Langs for her perkiness prior to the incredible and tragic irony that she subsequently was diagnosed with ALS; our other "disease puns" in that post from March '21 are more or less unfortunate depending on just how you parse your personal judgmentalism) so we'll keep that particular update brief.

The Atlanta Braves just hit 61 HRs in June (we'll focus on their overall performance during the past month at greater length below...) to become the 99th team to hit 50+ HRs in a month. Note that when the St. Louis Cardinals (one of the few teams to have a better hitting month than the June '23 incarnation of the Braves) became the first to hit 50+ HRs in the 21st century, they were only the 29th team to do so in all of baseball history. Sixty-nine more teams have followed in their footsteps over the past 22 years, with nearly a quarter of that total stemming from one year--the freakazoid annum blastum of 2019.

The updated TimeGrid™ for 50+ HRs in a month is shown at right...

The Braves hit 54 HRs in May, which makes them the eighth team in history to hit 50+ HRs in back-to-back months. We didn't cover that in our '21 report, so here's some fresh info: the first team to do so was the 1961 Yankees (natch), with 50+ HR months in June and July. Thirty-five years would pass until the Oakland A's would match the feat, also exceeding 50 HRs in June and July 1996. Twenty-three more years would pass before the Twins set a record for HRs (307) and had five consecutive 50+ HR months in the process. The Yankees and Astros, hot on their heels in the team HR race in 2019, made things close, each turning in 50+ HR months in August and September.

The Dodgers joined the club during 2020, hitting 50+ in the only two full months available to them. Last year the Yankees became the only team with three seasons of back-to-back 50+ HR months (May-June), setting a record for the lowest BA by a team with 50+ HRs (.235). And now, the Braves.

AND it was definitely "Hot-Lanta" last month. The Braves scored seven runs a game, amassing a .943 OPS, which ranks seventh all-time amongst teams with 500+ PAs in a month. (If you adjust that PA requirement up to 900, they rank fifth.) Their slash line: .307/.372/.572. Eight of their regulars had an OPS in excess of .900, led by Eddie Rosario (1.115), Ronald Acuña, Jr. (1.111) and Michael Harris II (1.005). 

So who's ahead of them? Of the teams with 900+ PAs, there are the 2003 Red Sox (.945 OPS), the 2017 Astros (.948 OPS), the previously mentioned 2000 Cardinals (.959 OPS). All of these teams made it into the post-season, but the lone World Series winner has remained tainted by trash cans.

But there's one more team ahead of them, a team that didn't make the post-season in the year it posted the highest monthly OPS in history (1.035!). Of course, they didn't have divisions or wild cards in 1930, so if you finished third--as this team did--you were, as "they" say, SOL. 

And that's what happened to the 1930 Yankees. Even with the greatest hitting month ever (.366 as a team--and that's with pitchers batting!), they still wound up 16 games behind the Philadelphia A's, who were en route to their second consecutive World Series win. (Shockingly, it wasn't the A's they were unable to beat--they went 10-12 in their series against them--it was the Washington Senators, who won 17 of 22 from the Yankees that year and as a result wound up in second place six gams ahead of them at year's end. 

Since Joe the P., who was on a version of this story earlier today, was unwilling/incapable of taking you back to see what the greatest hitting month of all time looked like, we fished the data out of David Pinto's handy Day-By-Day Database and posted it (above). Three .400+ hitters and Babe Ruth--holy moly! And three more guys hitting > .340. (We've been told, of course, that batting average is "meaningless," but it's OK for you to be impressed anyway.) 

The Yankees went 20-8 in June (as opposed to the Braves going 21-4 this past month) to move within two games of the A's at month's end, but their pitching was lousy, and even more so in the second half. And even the Hall of Famers here--Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Bill Dickey (and don't forget Red Ruffing, who hit .474!)--couldn't score nine runs a game all year long. 

We're not sure about the Braves (and, BTW: why don't they have to change their name if the Indians did?) and their ability to keep things at this level...or, rather, we should say we're certain they won't keep things at this level! At some point later in the year we'll demonstrate what happened to "peak-month" hitting teams in the month after their big uplift. (Hint to all you erstwhile geologists: subsidence!) But we suspect they'll still remain the NL's best team even when the "Hot-Lanta" hitters cool down. 

More June data in upcoming posts...stay tuned.