October 22, 2018

Since Spring Training, The Red Sox Are 124-1 When Leading After Eight Innings

After the Red Sox won the American League pennant, Craig Kimbrel had a message for the team's fans:
I'm sorry that I gave quite a few of you heart attacks the last few days. Let's hope in the World Series I can make them nice and clean.
We were reminded again that truth is far stranger than fiction when we read reports that Eric Gagne noticed that Kimbrel was tipping his pitches in Game 4 and got a message to him before the clinching Game 5.

Perhaps Kimbrel has found the answer to his problems. He certainly did much better in Game 5. Regardless, despite the apprehension or worry or anger or dread you may feel when Kimbrel comes jogging in from the bullpen, the Red Sox have been nearly undefeated this year when they have a late lead.

                            Spring     Season   Postseason       Total
Leading after 7 innings      20-1       90-4       7-0         117-5 (.959)
Leading after 8 innings      20-0       97-1       7-0         124-1 (.992)
This includes leads of any size, from 2-1 or 4-3 to when the Red Sox led the Yankees 14-1 after seven innings on April 10 or when the Red Sox led the Yankees 10-0 after eight innings on June 30 or when the Red Sox led the Yankees 15-6 after eight innings on August 2.

It's a fact: This team does not blow leads of any size in the late innings.

Most, if not all, teams win over 90% of these games. This year's Orioles were 42-3 (.933) when they led after eight innings. (On the other hand, when trailing after seven innings, Baltimore was 0-99!)

The Red Sox's lone loss since February after beginning the ninth inning with a lead came on May 1. Boston led Kansas City 3-2 when Kimbrel gave up a one-out home run to Alex Gordon in the top of the ninth. Both teams scored one run in the twelfth inning, the Royals got three in the top of the thirteenth, and the Red Sox could answer with only two (but came oh so close to getting more). The Royals won 7-6. (JoS)


Unknown said...

"Regardless, despite the apprehension or worry or anger or dread you may feel when Kimbrel comes jogging in from the bullpen, the Red Sox have been nearly undefeated this year when they have a late lead."

Because you framed it that way, a question: In those 105 games that counted when the Red Sox had a lead after eight innings, how many times did the team surrender that lead?

allan said...

If I'm reading the last chart on this page correctly:

The Red Sox had a lead after 8 innings in 98 games: They won 95 games and were tied 3 times.

Number of games in which the Red Sox were either ahead or tied after 8 innings and then lost in the 9th inning: 0

Unknown said...

Thanks. I was looking for a fuller accounting of blown leads in the ninth inning. That chart is helpful, but only in telling us that the Red Sox blew at least three ninth-inning leads. It doesn't account for a game in which the team blew a ninth-inning lead but still won in the home half of the ninth or in extra innings.

Looking only at Kimbrel's game logs, I've come up with four blown leads in the ninth inning: May 1, July 27, August 7, and August 28. (The May 1 game was the one they lost after having a lead after eight innings.) That's surely not all of them, but it gives a better accounting of the team's bullpen and Kimbrel this year. It seems to me that the team's 97-1 regular-season record when leading after eight innings is at least partially attributable to the offense.

Still, that .990 winning percentage when leading after eight is well above the .951 posted by the other 29 teams.

The other playoff teams: Dodgers (80-4, .952), Astros (92-5, .948), Brewers (84-3, .966), Yankees (84-2, .977), Rockies (78-5, .940), Braves (76-5, .938), Cleveland (84-5, .944), A's (79-2, .975), Cubs (82-2, .976).

All of which leads to the next question: Is that difference significant or telling, or just noise within the margin of error?

allan said...

I think games that went into extras are there. But I admit I'm having a hard time reading it.

Honestly, 97-1 does not seem much more significant than the MFY's 84-2 or the Cubs' 82-2.

And of course these are only leads blown in the 9th inning (Kimbrel, usually). If you look at the 7th and 8th, there are obviously more.