Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sox and Consistency

Today there were two great blog posts about the Sox you should read involving the consistency in the Sox's offense. As John Dewan writes, the Sox have been much more consistent this year in scoring runs than at this point last year:

Last year, the White Sox scored 10 or more runs 14 times in those first 64 games (and they lost two of them). This year it is only twice (winning both of them). If you calculate the runs per game, of just the games with less than ten runs, the White Sox are doing better this year with 4.4 compared to only 4.0 last year.

In the same light, this year the White Sox have been held to less than two runs only five times this year. Last year that happened ten times in those first 64 games! Despite that great offense.

Those figures are consistent with Kenny Williams' complaints about scoring 10 runs 1 game and 0 the next in the offseason. The Sox have been more consistent. But what has this consistency meant? Dave Studeman at the Hardball Times (which you should read, if you do not already) puts it in context, noting that this consistency means that the Sox are putting them in a position to win more games:

As you can see, the White Sox have scored two, four, five and six runs a game more often than the average team. . . . Runs two through seven are a team's "sweet spot." If you had your druthers, you'd score between two and seven runs in every game. Which is just about what the White Sox have done.

In fact, if you multiply the White Sox's run distribution times the average winning percent for each number of runs scored, you'll find that the Sox have an "expected" winning percentage of .540! Despite the fact that they are scoring nearly half a run less than average! And when you add in the fine performance of their pitching staff, you have this year's White Sox.

That's just great work. Studes could have gone the final step and used the same math to look at the 2004 White Sox by runs scored. If he'd done so, he'd see that the 2004 White Sox should have had a record of 89-73, rather than 83-79. The Sox's run distribution last year:

The big difference, from Studes' data to real life is that the Sox were a woeful 1-23 in games where they scored 2 runs. On average, they should have won 6 of those games, leaving them 5 games behind expectations. The pitching last year simply wasn't good enough to support the offense when it was scoring low last year. Here's the expected winning percentages and actual percentages by runs scored:

RunsGamesExpected %Actual %

* estimate.

As you can see, the underperformance in the 1-2 runs scored games - of which the Sox should have won 6 more - really made the difference last year. That's why the consistency in scoring has helped - the fewer games the Sox play scoring 2 or fewer runs, the fewer losses they will have.

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