Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Score first; it works

After tonight's delightful win over the suddenly-last-place-again White Sox, the "Voice of the Burlington Bees," Randy Wehofer, mentioned that scoring first is a tried-and-true method for winning baseball games. Fortunately, he didn't word it that way, because if he had, I might have smacked him with a Big Dictionary O' Cliches.

Anyhoodle, I understood that the team who scores first generally walks off the field with a win, but I wanted to know how often, because I'm a silly-face with lots of studying to procrastinate. So I checked this bit of conventional baseball wisdom against the Royals' 2007 season so far (including tonight, where KC scored first and did indeed win).

In games where Kansas City scores first, they are 44-18, or a .710 WPC. Not too shabby. Royals opponents are 66-21 (give or take 1, because apparently I missed one somewhere) or a .759 WPC when they (the opponents) score first.

I'm going to try to extrapolate something from this, because I did the schedule-searching, so I should do something with it, no? Here's what I see:

1) The obvious conclusion: scoring first wins ballgames.
2) These number show that starting pitching had better be Dayton Moore's super-priority again this offseason. The bullpen has held up pretty respectably all season, so as long as starters don't yield runs to open ballgames, things should improve, right?
3) The Royals might not be the best team to explore when looking for numbers like this, because lets face it, they lose a lot. I think that's why I included number of wins and losses by opponents when they strike first.
4) The Royals came from behind to win more often than they blew early leads. (21 and 18, respectively.) It's a narrow margin, but it might be something, as Royals teams of the past few years are pretty famous for lying down and accepting loss once they fall behind.
5) If I'm dumb enough to do this at the end of next season, I hope to not have to make so many tally marks under the "KC loss..." headers on my scratch paper (yeah, scratch paper; I'm old school like that).

A classmate saw me unfurl a couple pages of complicated-looking tables of stats from Baseball Prospectus today, and asked what kind of crazy class required all those scary numbers. He didn't understand why I would own and study something like that for fun. Some people, let me tell you...

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