Monday, April 14, 2008

Stat Nugget of the Day.

(Every once in a while I will come across a statistic regarding the Royals that I think is worth sharing with a larger audience. While I post it here on my blog, I also welcome all of my media friends to disseminate this in their respective mediums; I only ask for proper attribution. So Sam, Bob, Joe, Jeff, my friends at 610 and 810 and elsewhere: feel free to use the Stat Nugget of the Day as you see fit. This one’s a doozy.)

It’s the 1980s all over again. The Royals are wearing powder blues, they’ve got a winning record, and they’re winning with stifling pitching and just enough offense. The Royals are 7-5 despite the fact that they’ve scored just 38 runs in 12 games, just 3.17 per game. They’re 7-5 because their pitching staff has allowed just 32 runs.

In 12 games, the Royals and their opponents have combined for just 70 runs, or about what you used to see in a single series at Coors Field.

How unusual is this? According to my colleague at Baseball Prospectus, Jason Pare, no American League team has started its season with no more than 70 runs scored in its first 12 games in the last 17 years. Only three other teams have done so in the last 25 years.

Those teams?

The 1991 Cleveland Indians, with 65 runs (29 for Cleveland, 36 for their opponents.)

The 1988 Texas Rangers, with 68 runs (24 for Texas, 45 for their opponents – 15 in one game.)

We’ll get to the third team in a moment.

These teams rank where they do only because their offenses were so terrible – they both gave up more runs than the Royals have. The Royals are doing this with their pitching – they have a ridiculous team ERA of 2.58.

In fact, according to another Baseball Prospectus colleague, Bil Burke, in the last 25 years only three AL teams have allowed fewer runs in their first 12 games than the Royals. (The 2007 Red Sox also gave up exactly 32 runs in their first 12 games.)

Two of those teams are the 2001 Red Sox, who allowed 27 runs, and the 1988 Indians, who allowed just 25 runs, and just 26 runs in their first 13 games, on their way to starting 11-2.

(In retrospect, it’s obvious why the Indians pitched so well – seven of those games came against the Orioles, who you may recall started the season 0-21. Cleveland allowed just nine runs in those seven games. On the other hand, the Royals got to face the Tigers three times. Wow…did I just compare these Tigers to the 1988 Orioles? I guess I did.)

But just one American League team in the last 25 years has both allowed fewer runs than the 2008 Royals and seen fewer combined runs in its first dozen contests. That team allowed just 27 runs and scored 35, but courtesy of three extra-innings losses was just 6-6 in that span. That team would still be at .500 in mid-July before heating up as the season went on. That team had a mediocre offense but a pitching staff deep and talented enough to lead it to a world championship anyway.

That team was the 1985 Royals.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I knew the Royals pitching was off to a good start. But, it is historic in a good way. Too many years of worst of all time - 2005 and 2006.

I am encouraged with the pitching and as baseball tradition stands, good pitching and scratching out runs will win games. KC will be in the hunt all year with this type of staff and even Omaha has some reinforcements.

Dallas Tucker said...

Rany, you have got to stop with fantastic stats and comparisons of this sort! There is only so much excitement I can handle!

I think we need about three more starts apiece for Bannister, Greinke, and Tomko before we can start to get REALLY excited.

Ryan said...

I can't tell you how happy I was a few days ago when I went to look at team statistics and saw the Royals on top with the best ERA. It made me nostalgic for my youth. Pudding at my grandma's. Hearing locusts all summer. Joaquin Andujar destroying a toilet with a baseball bat. Oh, to be a kid again.

BTW, the powder blue unis with the white pants look awful. I strongly want the powder blues back (I have one of my own), but they need to be worn on the road like they used to be. Wearing them with white pants makes me think someone's alzheimer's-plagued grandfather dressed the Royals.

Gary said...

I'm not sure which surprises me more: comparing the 2008 Tigers to the 1988 Orioles, or comparing the 2008 Royals to the 1985 Royals. You don't often see an analyst use 38 runs in 12 games as a reason to compare a team to a World Champion. Gutsy move, Rany.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dallas about wanting to see some more starts by Banny, Zack, and Brett before getting REALLY excited. But having said that, I'd also like to point out that even if one of them slips a bit... it is LIKELY that Gil Meche improves from his current ERA. By a lot in fact. So, as good as it is... it may actually get BETTER. Imagine that!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Rany said...

To clarify: I'm not insuinating that the Royals are the second coming of their brothers from 23 years ago or anything like that. I'm just reporting on a statistic. A very interesting statistic.

(And that was just a cheap shot at the Tigers, by the way. I have NO idea what to make of them - they're dead last in the league with 33 runs scored, dead last with 78 runs allowed. They're not the 1988 Orioles, but they've played bad enough for long enough that I'm comfortable arguing that they are very unlikely to right the ship quickly and forcefully enough to win the division. Unless the division can be won with 85-87 games, which is certainly possible.)

iplayoutside said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Excellent stuff Rany. On paper (at the moment) this team does resemble the 85 squad right down to the weak hitting SS.

Bart said...

Great stat, Rany. I've gotta get a job where my day can be spent researching stuff like that. Talk about a good day's work.

I know this is the wrong thread, but the discussion seems to move with the newest post. I'd say Pena has to be in there whenever Zack pitches. Seems like Zack lets errors and bad breaks get in his head.

As I type, Bill the Thrill goes yard. I love this team.

Ryan said...

Did I just see Teahen swing at a 3-0 pitch with men on first and second with Butler on deck with 2 out in the 7th?

Teahen grounded out on a 3-0 pitch with Butler, who's batting .383 and had a home run tonight?

Teahen swung 3-0? And grounded out to 2nd?

With Butler on deck?

I can't print what I'm thinking.

Gary said...

Excellent post Ryan.

Anonymous said...

That just gave me chills!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a position-by-position comparison of the '85 Royals and the '08 Royals is in order. Might be fun.

FJ

Anonymous said...

Absolutely great post today. Damn, it's a good feeling to have reliable starters. Obviously the pitching won't continue at this pace, but hopefully the offense will pick up the slack.

Brett said...

I was thinking today what would are chances of competing be if our lineup looked like this

SS Callaspo
LF Teahen
1B Butler
DH Bonds
3B Gordon
RF Guillen
CF Dejesus
C Buck
2B Grudzielanek

I don't know that Bonds is worht the distractions, but thats a solid line up

Aziza said...

Good for people to know.