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|
|Avg Annual||-4.86||win %||44.62%|
|Total Dif||-40||Total Dif||-28|
|Avg Annual||-6.67||Avg Annual||-4.67|
|Total Dif||-28||Total Dif||-40|
|Avg Annual||-3.50||Avg Annual||-5.00|
|2+ Run Games|