July 16, 2018

Please Ignore Any And All References To "Most Wins Before The All-Star Break" Factoids

Progressive thought has made significant strides into the world of major league baseball, but it still seems like logic and common sense is fighting a losing battle.

So many writers and announcers regurgitate worthless factoids, see causation where none exists, and put unwarranted faith in small samples. They do what previous generations of baseball media did. However, the men and women who currently cover major league baseball have a wealth of information previous generations never dreamed possible. But so many of them seem determined to close their minds off from this new information, to both their own detriment and that of their readers and listeners.

As the All-Star Break drew closer and the Red Sox kept mowing down their opponents, we kept reading about the possibility that this Red Sox team could have "the most wins" in franchise (or baseball) history before the ASB.

One example: Julian Benbow, Boston Globe:
[The Red Sox's] 68 wins top the 1969 Orioles for the most by any team prior to the All-Star break. It's the most wins in Red Sox history through 98 games.
Benbow's second sentence has solid information. If you are looking at the most wins in a set number of games, then every season is equal. But his first sentence is worthless. It sounds nice, but it is 100% nonsense.

(Actually, it's not total nonsense in this particular case, because the 1969 ASG was on July 23, one of the latest dates ever, so the Orioles had played 96 games by that time (65-31).)

Some things to think about:

1. Opening Day does not fall on the same calendar date each year (unlike, for example, Christmas).

2. The All-Star Game does not fall on the same calendar date each year (unlike, for example, the Fourth of July).

3. The 2018 season began on March 29, the earliest date in baseball history.

4. The 2018 All-Star Game will be played on July 17, one of the latest dates in baseball history.

5. The first All-Star Game was played in 1933. Looking at which team has the "most wins before the All-Star Game" immediately eliminates more than three decades of history.

There have been 88 All-Star Games played from 1933-2017. The majority of games were played between July 9-15.

The earliest date was July 6 (1933, 1938, 1942, 1983) and the latest dates were July 23 (1969, 1974), July 24 (1973), and July 25 (1972). (I did not count the August 9 date in the strike season of 1981 or the dates of the second game in 1959-62 when a second game was played.)

Tomorrow's game is definitely on the late side and coupled with the earliest start to a season, that's why the Red Sox have played 60% of their schedule already.

Some Opening Days were quite a bit later than others. In 1933, the year of the first ASG, the regular season began on April 12. In 1942, Opening Day was April 14. The 1938 season began on April 18.

At the All-Star Break in 1938, the Red Sox had played 67 games. (The White Sox had played only 61.) The 1938 Red Sox could not have topped the 2018 Red Sox's win total even if they had won every single game before the break (67-0).

When you are looking at the highest number of wins, placing teams that have played 67 games and 98 games on equal footing makes no sense whatsoever. But for a large percentage of the baseball media, common sense is often nowhere to be found.


Jere said...

This year's Orioles squad is UNDEFEATED when leading by 8 or more runs with two outs and two strikes in the ninth. We're witnessing history, folks.

Jim said...

Excellent post. One of my annual bitches. At one point I was going to look up when (if) the ASG Break was ever after any team's 77th or 81st game. A daunting task I have never got around to but I'm sure the result would be a great one-liner to toss at the gas-baggers.

allan said...

Don't forget "all-time postseason leader in __________".

What? Players now can play in as many as 20 postseason games in one season but everyone from before 1969 could play a maximum of only 7? What has that got to do with anything?

allan said...

Speaking of which ... on the all-time postseason games played list, Mariano Rivera is #7.

Jere said...

It's funny, I randomly checked 1942 first--the A's had played 84 games at the break. Season started April 14th, but there was an early ASG (7/6) and Philly played 15 doubleheaders in the first half. Only one AL team had played FEWER than 77 games. I checked '41 and '43 and they were way different. Teams had all played much fewer games. Only one team in those two years was above 77.

D.Ing said...

Bobby Valentine fans (and maybe Alex Cora's agent) should note that if the Sox lose every game after the All-Star break this year, they will finish one game behind Valentine's legendary 2012 team.