The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

A damning trend continues

Posted by disappointmentzone on 16 July 2006

In the first game after the All-Star break the Indians scored six runs. Five of those runs came from home runs, or 83%. In the first three games since the break, the Indians have scored 10 runs, eight of which have been the result of home runs–80%. Let’s put the 80% trend in perspective.

The expected value of a home run is 1.4 runs. The Indians have stuck close to this measure in the second half of the season: 6(1.4)=8.4 expected runs, very close to the actual total of eight. For the season the Indians have hit 120 home runs for an expected value of 168 runs. (Actual runs scored: 498. 168 runs is approximately 34% of the total.) If the Indians followed the “80% of offense from home runs” rule throughout the season they would have scored 210 runs so far. Assuming no change in pitching, using Bill James’s Pythagorean Expectation Formula the Indians–if they scored 80% of their runs from home runs–would have only 15.7 wins right now. Or about half has many as the worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals.

Chicks may dig the long ball, but teams don’t win by relying so heavily on hitting home runs. And as long as the Indians score 80% of their runs from home runs, they won’t be winning much, either.

UPDATE: Minnesota wins 5-2 on Sunday afternoon. Cleveland scores one run off a home run, another off a two-out single by Casey Blake that drove home Joe Inglett.

UPDATE 2: I posted a link to this post at Let’s Go Tribe, a particulalry great site dedicated to the Cleveland Indians. I encourage everyone to check them out. A few people responded to what I had to say about what the Indians offense has done in the first three games since the All-Star break and I think it’s worth going over two of their criticisms.

1) When I titled this post “A damning trend continues” it was a tiny tongue-in-cheek gesture to all the people who fret after one or two bad games or who rejoice after one or two great games. Three games does not a trend make. Which is not to say that what happens in three games is not important, only that three games is too small a sample to draw any conclusions about what might happen in the future.

2) I am not extrapolating from this three game sample. To extrapolate is to use data to make predictions about the future. Nowhere in what I wrote are there predictions about the future.

3) The point of this post was to answer one question: Is scoring 80% of their runs by hitting home runs a good strategy for the Indians? It turns out the answer is no. Home runs are very hard to hit. If a team with the same offensive profile as the Indians relies mostly on hitting home runs to score runs then that team won’t score many runs. The Indians have hit 120 home runs this season (now 121 after Sizemore’s home run this afternoon). If those 120 home runs were 80% of their total runs then the Indians would be even worse than they are right now since they would have scored less than half the runs they have scored this season. In other words, the Indians have scored the majority of their runs by means other than the home run. Which is a good strategy for winning games.

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