Newton’s First Law of Baseball Motion

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates

By Casey Boguslaw

There have been 293 “streaks” in Major League Baseball this season as of Sunday, July 5th consisting of 634 games – 151 streaks of at least three wins and 142 streaks of at least three losses. We’ve all heard the mantra that “winning is contagious” and at the same time that losing may also spurn more losses. Let’s take a look at if the 2015 season has backed these ideas up with facts and along the way we’ll take a look at how MLB Stoppers are doing thus far on the year.

Let’s start with the losing so we can end on a happy note. Here is how often baseball inertia has shown its head this season.

  Next game outcome Losing percentage
Teams on a 3 game losing streak 65-77 54.23%
4 game losing streak 36-41 53.25%
5 game losing streak 16-25 60.98%
6 game losing streak 8-15 65.22%
7 game losing streak 7-8 53.33%

The St. Louis Cardinals, owners of the best record in baseball, have only had three games with a three-or-more game losing streak all season (and 23 games with a winning streak – more on that later). Cardinals pitchers in those three games have allowed only two runs total, surprisingly losing one of the games. There is some fortune that Michael Wacha has pitched two of those games, throwing seven innings each time.If we’re looking at each individual game as a coin flip, then numbers have shown this year that if teams are on a losing streak, it’s more likely for them to keep losing. We do know that each game isn’t exactly a coin flip but there is still something that can be taken from these figures. What we have seen this season is teams who have been able to avoid losing streaks, or get out of them early, have been the more successful teams.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are another team with very impressive statistics in their few down times. They have only had four games with a losing streak and have won each of them. Clayton Kershaw and Zach Grienke have started all four times with Grienke probably leading the “Stopper of the Year” race with three wins and a 0.42 ERA in those appearances.

The Minnesota Twins, perhaps the most surprising team in the league through the first half, have done that by avoiding losing streaks. They have had only five games with a losing streak, and done this without an “ace” in their rotation. Tommy Milone has their best Stopper stats with two earned in 14 2/3 IP in two starts.

On the other side of the spectrum, teams with a poor first half can look no further than how losing streaks have stuck with the team. The Philadelphia Phillies have had 27 games with a losing streak so far. They have had losing streaks on eight different occasions and they have only won that fourth game two times out of the eight. Sean O’Sullivan (7) and Cole Hamels (6) have had the most Stopper opportunities in the league this year and while Hamels has a 3.29 ERA in said starts, O’Sullivan has had a 6.10 ERA. Jerome Williams is probably the worst Stopper in the league this year – in four attempts, he has an ERA of 9.77 and the team has lost all four games.

The Colorado Rockies have had slight more success but not to a huge degree. They have had 20 losing streaks on the year on six different occasions. Jorge De La Rosa has had six Stopper appearances himself and has pitched reasonably well going 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA. The Rockies have had seven different starters with a Stopper appearance while the Phillies have had eight, which says a lot on its own.

The San Francisco Giants are an odd case and fit right in the middle. They have had more “streak games” than any team in the league other than the Phillies, but what makes them peculiar is they have had 14 games on a winning streak and 15 games on a losing streak. They have been the epitome of baseball inertia this year as when they have hit a three game losing streak, which they have done four times, they have lost at least five each time. They are currently under their second 8+ losing streak of the year but have also had a nine game winning streak. Madison Bumgarner has had arguably his two worst starts of the season in Stopper appearances which certainly hasn’t helped the situation.

Moving on to winning streaks, we are seeing more of the same. Here are the same figures looking at the positive.

  Next game outcome Winning percentage
Teams on a 3 game winning streak 80-71 52.98%
4 game winning streak 43-37 53.75%
5 game winning streak 21-22 48.84%
6 game winning streak 13-8 61.90%
7 game winning streak 8-5 61.54%

The numbers are very similar and winning being contagious may be true.

The Boston Red Sox are one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season and one of the most heavily criticized reasons is their inconsistent rotation. That idea is strengthened by the fact that the Red Sox have only won three games in a row on three occasions and each time they lost that fourth game. In able for them to get back into the playoff picture they will need to string together many victories. The Seattle Mariners almost have an exact replica of a résumé as the Red Sox. They have had only three winning streaks and have yet to win more than four in a row.

To keep heaping praise on the Cardinals, and their 23 games this season that have been a part of a winning streak, it gets even more impressive. The Cardinals are 7-0 when they have won three games in a row and are 5-2 when they win four games in a row. When this team gets rolling – watch out. The Houston Astros are almost as impressive. They have 20 games this season that have been during a hitting streak and are 5-1 after winning their third in a row and 4-1 after winning their fourth. Who is ready for this World Series? Winning Game 1 may be more important than ever.

You can find Casey on twitter @CaseyBoguslaw, leave a comment in the section below, or let us know what you think on Twitter @CTBPod or on our Facebook page.

3 thoughts on “Newton’s First Law of Baseball Motion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s