Does Good Pitching Win Championships? Part 3

Does Good Pitching Win Championships? Part 3

Atlanta Braves Playoff pitching stats.

Yr

Reg ERA

NLDS

NLCS

WS

W-L

1991

3.49

1.57/.598

3.17/.692

7-7

1992

3.14

4.87/.770

2.65/.658

6-7

1993

3.14

3.15/.736

2-4

1995

3.44

4.38/.796

1.14/.543

2.67/.576

11-3

1996

3.54

0.96/.425

1.92/.538

2.33/.596

8-7

1997

3.18

1.67/.439

2.60/.560

5-4

1998

3.25

1.29/.454

3.50/.704

5-4

1999

3.63

3.46/.708

2.69/.572

4.37.749

7-6

2000

4.05

7.92/.870

0-3

2001

3.59

1.67/.538

2.66/.611

4-4

2002

3.13

4.91/.731

2-3

2003

4.10

3.68/.712

2-3

2004

3.74

7.04/.862

2-3

2005

3.98

5.19/.764

1-3

The Braves led the NL in team pitching every year except 2003, 2005. And if we study this chart we can see the Braves went 9-6 in series where they performed better than in the regular season – remind you this is coming from a the best NL pitching team – improving!

Let’s look at the 1992 World Series and the 1993 NLCS, both these series the Braves lost to teams with average pitching but good hitting. Even though they were an average pitching team the 1993 Phillies were able to win 4 out of 6 games. The Phillies didn’t really get to the Braves but the Braves, who were 3rd in NL batting were shut down by an average Phillie staff. As we see in the above chart a great pitching team can improve in a playoff series. The same goes for an average pitching staff. Schilling and Mullholland were key pitchers that year and can cancel out the Braves Smoltz and Glavine. Schilling had an ERA in the series of 1.67 but the Braves 3 runs they scored on him forced him to take a ND in both his starts. Two, tenth inning runs won 2 games for the Phils, 4-3. Not a bad pitching performance for either team. In three of their losses that series Brave pitching gave up 10 runs and lost all three games by 1-run. They could have won any of those games but average pitching shut down their great hitting. In the 1992 Series the Braves lost four 1-run games to the Blue Jays. Again, the Braves had a top-notch offense but the average Blue Jays staff shut them down. Good pitching but not good enough to win a Championship.

There have not been enough average pitching teams to make the playoffs to make a chart like I did for the Braves and the Dodgers. As we see, it doesn’t matter if the teams great pitching steps up or falls apart, if their hitters don’t score enough runs on average pitching, the great pitching takes the loss.

In conclusion, I realize this goes against the grain for a lot of traditional baseball thinking and will be met with contempt. Good teams will make the playoffs, especially teams with good pitching. Trends will show that teams with good pitching will dominate sub .500 teams. Even middle-of-the pack teams with excellent pitching will win half their games 4-3 and lose half their games 4-3 as a pythagorean example. Middle of the pack teams with average pitching and average hitting will not blow out the bad teams and will be very competitive with the upper echelon playoff contending teams.

In the regular season we see upper echelon teams usually playing .500 against other top clubs regardless of the type of team they have, why should this change in the playoffs? The 1993 Braves who won 104 games went a normal 20-17 against teams with 90 or more wins. The 2006 St.Louis Cardinals, who won 83 regular season games, went 11-8 against NL playoff teams in the regular season, continued this trend by going 7-4 in the playoffs.

Pitching does not win Championships, pitching can be neutralized, as we saw last week when the vastly superior Tiger staff held the Cards to a pittance of runs yet lost. I could find no example of when a good hitting team loses a series when exceeding their regular season offense output while their pitching, good, average or bad, maintain their regular season pace. However, this happens often in when teams depending on pitching lose despite their pitchers exceeding expectations. Scoring runs wins games, pitchers can pitch their hearts out every day but the result is completely in the hands of the runs to offense scores.

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • http://www.mopupduty.com Callum

    Another, simpler way to approach this is to look at every World Series team since 1905, when the Fall Classic became a permanent fixture. To determine whether they relied more on pitching or hitting, we simply check their league ranking for runs scored and runs allowed, then compare them. If they ranked higher in runs scored, we can determine that they relied more on offense. If they ranked higher in runs allowed, we can determine that they relied more on pitching and defense. Compiling the totals gives us the overall picture of whether, in the long run, good pitching wins out over good hitting.

    Since 1905, 95 World Series have been played. On the National League side, 35 teams have been ranked higher in runs scored, 42 teams have been ranked higher in runs allowed, and 18 teams ranked the same in both. The American League representative has ranked higher in runs scored 35 times, runs allowed 32 times, and had the same ranking in both 28 times. This suggests that NL teams need to focus more on pitching and defense, while the AL is too close to call.

    As for the winners of those 94 World Series, 31 teams ranked higher in runs scored, 47 teams ranked higher in runs allowed, and 27 teams ranked the same in both. These numbers indicate that the cliché is quite accurate; pitching and defense do indeed win championships

  • http://www.mopupduty.com Kman

    Is this stat than average? Early and myself were running numbers and since 1969 only 4 teams have made the WS with below league avg pitching. I’m interested, where did you find these numbers?

  • Early

    I think that is a fairly naive way of ranking the teams but it is not completely innacurate. During my reasearch I found that most playoff match-ups were of teams with good offense vs teams with good pitching/def. I don’t feel that if a team is first in league pitching and second in league batting they depend more on pitching to win games and Championships without mentioning how far they are above average. I do recognise and say in my article that teams count of pitching to win more in the regular season. Teams like this I have identified as Good Pitching and Good Hitting teams and the highest percentage of playoff matchups since 1969 were of the “GP GH vs GP GH”. There is no trend that I can find to agree that the higher ranked team in pitching will win out over a higher ranked team in batting. In 2005 AL a total of 3 runs against separated the top 3 pitching teams in the. Although CWS had the best average we are looking at one extra run surrender every 60-80 games or so is that a significant advantage the CWS have over the LAA in an ALCS?

  • http://www.mopupduty.com Callum

    “I don’t feel that if a team is first in league pitching and second in league batting they depend more on pitching to win games and Championships without mentioning how far they are above average.”

    The same can be said for your arbitrary good/avg/bad system. You could have a good hitting/good pithing team ranked 4th in the league in both vs. an avg piching/avg hitting team which is 5th in the league in both. This can skew your results big time and not make for a very meaningful argument.

  • Early

    Saying that the 1996 NYY pitching staff was average is not arbitrary when you look at the statistics. No matter how you cut it, there are more good pitching or higher ranked pitching teams winning championships for the very reason that there are more of them in the playoffs. It is common for a team to finish 1st in league pitching and 7th in leauge hitting and make the playoffs. It is uncommon, although it happens, for a team to finish 1st in Hitting and 7th in pitching and make the playoffs. What I am trying to expose here, and what puzzles me, is how and why the team with the lesser pitching can win so often in the playoffs when it is a Craps shoot to make the playoffs.