14 thoughts on “The rule of run differential

  1. Hope you're right. But ya know, if a team were to, say, win one game of a series by 13-3, and then lose three by two runs or less, they loser of the series would still win Run Differential contest.

    I sure hope that's what they use when they decide who advances in the playoffs. Not those pesky old school wins and losses.

  2. Of course, it's not unthinkable that the O's could tear it up and get a positive run differential in the next couple of weeks to justify their position. The season's not over yet…

    • Hugh,

      This is definitely true. But after 146 games, most patterns hold true. I do realize that there are 16 games left though and plenty can happen.

      • I think you've got it backwards, actually. The point of run differential is that, in small samples, it's likely to be more predictive of future performance than wins and losses. After 146 games, however, it's basically meaningless because the majority of games have been played, and you've already won the games you've won. So, at this point, the run differential of the first 146 games have basically nothing to do with how the final 16 games will go, and it's not as though the Orioles are going to be disqualified from postseason play if their run differential is in the red.

  3. they've been hounded for this all season, largely because they have been on the wrong side of blowout losses. look at their record in games decided by more hen seven runs. i believe that since the all star break, they have a positive run differential, and they have been on fire until hitting oakland (sound familiar). if your looking for a reason to not be scared of them, then enjoy run differential, what ever helps you sleep at night. if they win more games then the yanks however, they are still going to win the division.

  4. I agree with the prognostic value of run differential, however there is such a thing as being lucky, and as the great sage of New Jersey has so wisely noted, I'd rather be lucky than good. While it would be nice to think that luck always evens out over the course of a year, history has shown that it's just not true. I prefer to peg my hopes on the Weaverian values of good pitching and 3 run homers.

  5. This article is a load of baloney. There is no analysis, just assertions. The Orioles have been bucking the trend all year, and keep winning games. They aren't winning because of luck. Everyone knows that a good bullpen makes up for a bad run differential, and the O's have a great bullpen. Also, the O's, like the Yankees, hit home runs. Nothing turns games like home runs, and the O's generate alot of offense from Home Runs. This also ignores one key issue, the O's are clearly a better team now than they were in April. A few blowouts here and there will kill a run differential. Maybe the O's have had some timely hitting, but you don't win this many games through luck alone. Any team that hits for power and has a great bullpen will contend.

    • "Everyone knows that a good bullpen makes up for a bad run differential, and the O's have a great bullpen."

      Not only don't I know this, and I am definitely an everybody, but there is no proof of this nor is there any logic as to why this should be so. Baltimore's record in 1 run gains is sensational and is the reason they have a winning record with a minus run differential. While there is no reason to believe they will return to earth this year as the confidence that builds with such victories can be self perpetuating, there is every reason to believe that they will regress to the mean next year.

      "A few blowouts here and there will kill a run differential."

      True enough as long as it's more than a few, and show me a team that continually is on the wrong end of blown outs and I'll show you a team that isn't very good.

      Personally I attribute it all to Buck, who I met once and is a very nice man ;)

  6. One thing to consider is which pitchers are responsible fo rthe negative run diferential? (In other words: which pithcers are terrible?) And, are they still on the team? If they have been replaced by better pitchers, then run differntial actually means very little at this point.

    Also, in terms of individual pithcers, is run differential evenly spread out or not? Jim Johnson, for example, gave up 11 of his 21 runs in two terrible outings. So although his apparent responsibility for run differential is X, the details reveal that he's been better than that.

    • OK, we're supposed to eliminate Jim Johnson's' run differential from our analysis. Do we also eliminate grand slams hit by poor batters as well. In other words, do you really think all the outliers in run differential occur only on the defensive side, or might there not be some freaky offensive occurrences as well that tend to balance things out.?

      • If things balanced out, wouldn't the Orioles have a losing record? The fact that they don't suggests that there were more outliers when the Orioles were playing defense. Maybe the outlier was Johnson giving up runs. Maybe the outlier was a scrub hitting a grand slam. But I'd suspec that outliers are weighted toward that end of the game.

        • "If things balanced out, wouldn't the Orioles have a losing record?" Not if the O's were either 1) a team of destiny or 2) very lucky (those categories might be redundant.)

          The point is that selectively looking at a few performances by one player and saying – see that's why our run differential is out of whack negates the actual performance of the whole team. Given the O's actual winning percentage you would expect them to be somewhere around +70 in run differential, whereas they are currently south of that by about 90 runs. I don't think 3 or 4 bad outings by Jim Johnson accounts for all, or most of those runs.

          • I did say Jim Johnson, FOR EXAMPLE. I wasn't looking at a few performances by him.

            Also by definition, balancing out means that things work out mathematically how they are supposed to, more or less. So either they are -20 run differential and 71-75. Or they are +70 and 82-64. Luck/destiny/whatever disturbs the balance.

  7. None of that matters when playoffs start. Ask the Red Sox of 2011…. oh wait, they didn't even make the postseason despite +138(!) run differential