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January 30, 2007

An Ounce of Pitching Is Worth A Pound of Hitting

I decided to run with the question at The Immaculate Inning (today) a bit. The question there was:

How often did the Yankees’ offense “do their job” and score at least five runs in a game? How often did the Yankees’ pitching “do their job” and limit the opposition to four or fewer runs?

Counting up the 2006 numbers, I was able to come up with this grid:


So, the hitters did their job 96 times in 2006. And, the pitchers did their job 81 times in 2006. This tells us that the Yankees pitching/defense did not do their job 50% of the time last year.

Further, there were only 49 games in 2006 where both sides did their job for the Yankees.

Where it gets interesting is where one side failed and the other did not (last year). When the pitchers/defense failed and the hitters did not, the team went 28-19. When the hitters failed and the pitchers/defense did not, the team went 20-12. Both of these marks are very good - but it's still better when the hitters failed as long as the pitchers/defense did not fail.

It does all fall into the common sense bucket:

When you hit and pitch, you win. When you don't hit and don't pitch, you lose. When you hit, and don't pitch, you can still win - but you will win more, even when you don't hit, if you pitch.

Yogi ain't got nothing on me.

Bottom line, these numbers should jump out at you:

The Yankees only lost 12 times last year when the team allowed 4 runs or less. And, when the Yankees allowed 5+ runs in a game last year, they went 28-53 (which is a losing percentage of .655!).

You can hit until the cows come home - but, if you don't pitch, it don't matter (even if you have "Murderer's Row & Cano").

Posted by Steve Lombardi at January 30, 2007 11:25 PM


Very nice, Steve. I just had my crack statistics staff (my brother) run some numbers, and while I don't have final tallies yet, it seems like a 2006 post-season berth and getting the Job Done with pitching were significantly tied (for stats geeks, with a two-tailed T test, p value of 0.018). Meanwhile Doing Your Job on offense was not very well tied to post-season berths (p value of 0.118, or not very significant).

What I think it says about the Yankees in 2006 is that they relied on their pitching to win games most effectively, and pitching broke down in the post-season.

I noticed that you had your own logs for Yankees games... did you keep that as the season progressed, or did you get it from someplace? Currently my friend is working on a program to get data from retrosheet, but if you know of a quick and easy way to get game scores, it would make my master plan (all Did Your Job Stat data from the wild card era) much simpler.

Posted by: mehmattski [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2007 12:35 AM

~~~What I think it says about the Yankees in 2006 is that they relied on their pitching to win games most effectively, and pitching broke down in the post-season~~~

Yup. See Johnson & Wright:


Nothing fancy on my logs. I just copied and pasted the game log from ESPN.com into a spreadsheet and then started slicing and filtering, etc.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2007 09:32 AM

you have to remember that 5+ and 4- are more or less, numbers picked for their conveyance. in reality, the yanks would have to score more than the leage average in runs per game, and allow less than that. as far as i can tell, the average number of runs per team per game, last year was 4.857. so when doing this analysis it is important to remember that when the offense score 5, it is less valuable to the team than when the pitching/defense allows 4. also it is easy to say the pitching didn't do their part, because it is easy for the offense to score the extra ~0.14 runs, as opposed to the offense preventing the extra ~0.84 runs. i hope this makes sense.

Posted by: adam [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2007 09:35 AM