Blue Jays AWFUL 1-run record is NOT bad luck

Bill James is WRONG.   MLB stats geeks are WRONG.   Run differential does NOT always predict baseball success over time.

Consensus in MLB right now is that if your run differential is very positive (you score a lot more runs than you give up), you are a strong team that will win long term.  1 run losses are mostly bad luck that evens out over time.

That is INCORRECT and the Blue Jays go as close to proving it as mathematically possible.   The Blue Jays were built by JP (and then AA) to hit homers.   They bludgeon opponents one night 8-4, then  lose a close 3-2 game the next because they don’t have executers (bunters, stolen base threats, etc).   For almost 2 decades, they have been a mediocre team with a strong run differential.  Proof is in the data below.  In the 14+ years since JP assumed control, the Blue Jays are a respectable 849-786 in games decided by 2+ runs.  They’ve been mediocre during that stretch, yet winning ‘real’ (non 1 run games), at a 52% clip is pretty impressive (avg 84-78 per year AND a strong plus run differential).

HOWEVER, the Blue Jays are an embarrassingly horrid 282-350 in 1 run games.  That’s almost 4 seasons of data points and they win 44% of 1 run games – equivalent to going 72-90 EVERY YEAR – which is horrendous.   IF a baseball team went 72-90 for 4 straight years and every year management/media that owns the team, simply said they were ‘unlucky’, you’d dismiss them as crazy – that is the Blue Jays and what they’ve been doing.

The data also shows this does not appear to be manager Gibbons’ fault as they are just as bad with him in 1 run games as without, but they are trending worse over time.

New GM Shapiro has just started his tenure.   In year one, he went 21-25 in 1 run games.  The Jays had 2 base stealing threats and he traded 1 for a reliever (Revere) and the other is in the minors (Pompey).   If you cannot win close games, making the playoffs is challenging and winning in October is almost impossible.  This is NOT bad luck, its a failed strategy implemented by JP because he misunderstood the essence of moneyball, and, as of yet, has not been corrected.

Note: to start 2016, the Blue Jays chose to keep BOTH Goins & Barney on the roster, two backup middle infielders with similar skill sets.   Dumping either one for a true stolen base threat would have added more value to the ballclub.

 

Blue Jays Record in 1 Run Games
Year GM Manager Wins Losses Difference
2002 JP xJG 23 21 2
2003 JP xJG 14 23 -9
2004 JP xJG 17 22 -5
2005 JP JG 16 31 -15
2006 JP JG 20 10 10
2007 JP JG 29 25 4
2008 JP xJG 24 32 -8
2009 JP xJG 21 28 -7
2010 AA xJG 24 28 -4
2011 AA xJG 29 28 1
2012 AA xJG 15 25 -10
2013 AA JG 20 29 -9
2014 AA JG 15 20 -5
2015 AA JG 15 28 -13
Years 14 282 350 -68
Total Dif -68 n 632
Avg Annual -4.86 win % 44.62%
AA JG
Years 6 Years 6
Total Dif -40 Total Dif -28
Avg Annual -6.67 Avg Annual -4.67
JP xJG
Years 8 Years 8
Total Dif -28 Total Dif -40
Avg Annual -3.50 Avg Annual -5.00
Overall
Wins Losses
78 84
86 76
67 94
80 82
87 75
83 79
86 76
75 87
85 77
81 81
73 89
74 88
83 79
93 69
1131 1136
2+ Run Games
Wins Losses Difference
55 63 -8
72 53 19
50 72 -22
64 51 13
67 65 2
54 54 0
62 44 18
54 59 -5
61 49 12
52 53 -1
58 64 -6
54 59 -5
68 59 9
78 41 37
849 786 63
n 1635
win % 51.93%

 

 

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