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Just The Sports: Joe Knows

Just The Sports

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Joe Knows

Joe Torre, manager for the New York Yankees, has recently gone on record as saying he would rather have another bat than to have another pitcher. Whether or not Torre knows or even cares, I completely agree with his assessment, basically because the numbers bear it out.

Eighty-two games into the season, the Yankees are far from a fautless team, which anyone with two eyes has probably noticed after their fall from the top of the AL East. Yes, the Yankees score a lot of runs, but they do so in a way to make their run totals completely misleading.

As I have alluded to in at least one previous blog post, the Yankees both in terms of defense and offense have been maddeningly inconsistent. But the Yankees have been more inconsistent when it comes to their offense.

To put a finger on how consistent a team is, I looked at the variance in a team's runs scored and runs allowed. The variance numbers for the Yankees do not paint a pretty picture. For their offense, the Yankees have a variance of 14.5 and their variance for their defense is 11.5, both poor numbers for a team with such a good record.

The Yankees' last two games provide a perfect snapshot of their offensive inconsistency. Yesterday, they were outscored by the Cleveland Indians 19-1 and today, they bounced back to trounce the Indians by the score of 11-3. When you put those run totals (on the offensive side) in the grand scheme of things, they average out nicely, but you never want a team to be so across the board in the points they score.

If the Yankees were only one of many inconsistent teams in the major leagues, it would not be such a problem, but that is not the case. Of the two other teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees are fighting for the AL East Division title and with it a playoff berth, the Yankees are the most inconsistent, by a long shot. Since you will no doubt be faced with this trivia question soon, the answer to the most consistent, good AL East team is the Toronto Blue Jays.

Whether a new bat will have the desired effect on the Yankee offense and bring consistency to the Bronx Bombers is up for debate. What is not is that right now, another bat is much more important to their future success than a new pitcher would be, seeing as how their pitching has been the more consistent aspect of their season.


  • I don't know if I like this variance statistic you're falling in love with. I grant you that the Yankees have been inconsistent in their hitting, and that they've been hurt by it. But what is the most likely cause of their inconsistency?

    A) "Clutch hitting is contagious"

    B) The "bats coming alive" at the same time

    C) "Rattling the pitcher" with the first couple runs

    D) Pure dumb luck

    I know you're not a cliche guy, so I wonder what you attribute this variance to, other than answer D. If Giambi, A-Rod and Jeter go deep on the same day, instead of each hitting one on three consecutive days, that smacks of random chance to me.

    Variance in hitting goes down as the season progresses--that's why the Pythagorean works, and that's why teams that do poorly relative to their Pythagorean usually bounce back to normal the next year--because it's dumb luck. If the Yankees add Soriano, I see no reason why it would drive their variance down. Maybe he'll just hit more homers on the days when they're already up 13-2.

    Now for pitching. Here's where variance actually means something, because you have different players going each day. The Yankees have a high pitching variance mostly because they're trotting out Mussina, Johnson and Wang 60% of the time and my grandmother the other 40%. If they acquired another pitcher, they could replace one of the losers they have pitching now and actually make a solid dent in their variance. The hitting will even out on its own; it's the pitching that needs help.

    By Blogger Chemo, at 12:47 PM  

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