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Monday, June 29, 2020

What Randomness Could a 60-Game MLB Season Bring?

In the bottom of the fifth inning of a game against the Orioles on June 6, 2019, Rangers left fielder Danny Santana lifted a one-out fly ball to center. When O’s center fielder Keon Broxton caught it, his Texas counterpart Delino DeShields hurried home from third, scoring what would be the winning run in a 4-3 Rangers victory. With that win in the books, the Rangers’ record stood at 32-28. Through 60 games, they were in wild-card position. “Playoff baseball may come back to Arlington sooner than expected,” Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro wrote that week…

If last season had stopped after 60 games, the Rangers would have won the second wild card. The Cubs would have won the NL Central, and the Phillies would have won the NL East. In other words, three out of the 10 teams that were in playoff position at that point didn’t end up making the playoffs. That’s pretty typical: According to data from Baseball Prospectus, 36.5 percent of teams during the divisional era (1969 to 2019, excluding the 1981 and 1994 strike seasons) that were in playoff position through 60 games didn’t end up making the playoffs.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 29, 2020 at 09:00 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:04 PM (#5960168)
Yeah, short seasons nurture illusions. I remember, as a kid rooting hard for the 1981 Red Sox because they were in the hunt for some kind of playoff spot and they were a very mediocre team.
   2. Rally Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:24 PM (#5960173)
1983 Angels had 2nd worst full season record among teams that were in playoff position for the first 60. Too bad that season went on too long. Rod Carew would have been the League MVP (batting well over .400) for the back to back division champs.

Actually I don't know if Carew was in fact most valuable at that point, he was an old first baseman with zero power. But even if Ripken or somebody beat him in total value, I'm pretty sure a .400 hitter for a playoff team wins the MVP award.
   3. Rally Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:27 PM (#5960174)
Last year's Nats and the 2003 Marlins both make the list for worst 1st 60 game records for eventual playoff teams, they are the only 2 on that list that ended up winning the whole thing.
   4. Ron J Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5960175)
Could somebody (to pick a name at not random, Chris Davis) deliver an 0 for season in a qualifying number of PAs? No hits in 186 PAs seems like an awfully big ask but I wonder what the fewest number of hits in a stretch that long is.
   5. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5960185)
Actually I don't know if Carew was in fact most valuable at that point, he was an old first baseman with zero power. But even if Ripken or somebody beat him in total value, I'm pretty sure a .400 hitter for a playoff team wins the MVP award.

Ripken got off to a slow (for him) start. his MBVP came from his second half performance. Poking around the usual suspects, none of Yount, Murray, or Boggs were particularly hot, their 60 game numbers were more or less their EOY numbers. One interesting contender would have been George Brett. Brett went on the DL in team game 49, playing 43 of them, and would not return until team game 69. At the time he was batting .369, with what was likely league leading12 HR and 39 RBI, though someone might have passed him by game 60. Between the 2, it might have still gone to Carew. And it's likely someone like Carney Lansford or Lloyd Moseby had tremendous numbers.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5960186)
The worst month for any hitter with at least 75 PA, since 1969:
Don Baylor, April 1981, .062 (4-for-65)
Mark Reynolds, Sept 2010, .078
Ellie Rodriguez, July 1971, .082
Royce Clayton, May 2003, .083
Jake Rogers, August 2019, .086
Julio Lugo, June 2007, .089
Eric Byrnes, July 2003, .095
Brandon Moss, Sept 2016, .099
Greg Vaughn, April 2002, .099
Greg Walker, April 1987, .100

(Chris Davis hit .176 in April 2019, despite his 0-for-33 start). Davis holds the record with a 54 at-bat hitless streak, stretching from 2018 to 2019.
   7. Zach Posted: June 29, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5960193)
Objectively, it would be bad if a team like the 2003 Royals made the postseason on the basis of a hot start.

But speaking as a guy who rooted hard for a team that was 20 years into a 30 year playoff drought, I would have been totally on board.
   8. Rally Posted: June 29, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5960198)
I checked the top HR hitters of 1983, and Jim Rice and Ron Kittle each had 14 through the first 60 team games.

For Brett I was wondering where the pine tar game fits in, could it have happened in the first 60 but the completion happened after that? But no, the start of the pine tar game game 91 for the Royals.
   9. Rally Posted: June 29, 2020 at 02:52 PM (#5960199)
Eric Davis 1987, played in 53 of first 60 games. 309/403/686, 20 HR, 55 RBI, 27/2 SB/CS. Reds were tied for first with the Giants.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2020 at 01:30 AM (#5960325)
Well, under a simple binomial distribution, the 95% interval on a "true 500" team over 162 games is +/- 12.7 games or +/- 78 points of WP. For 60 games, it's 7.75 games or 129 points of WP. So a true 500 team has 2.5% chance of playing 630 or better baseball. (Or 370 or worse) That's why I'm not giving up on the Cubs yet.

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