Baseball, The Four Run Rule

Whenever a team wins or loses a baseball game, there is a part of the team that is responsible for the outcome. It could be a total team effort, the pitching, or the hitting. Four runs is the determining factor that shows who is responsible for the outcome. If a team scores 4 or more runs, then they should win the game. If a team holds their opponent to 4 or less runs, they should win the game. If both teams accomplish this goal on the number, the game will go into extra innings and eventually one team would give up the go ahead runs. Wins and losses can be put into 6 categories: Team win, pitching win, hitting win, team loss, pitching loss, and hitting loss. Here is an example of how each category would play out for the winning and losing team. Final score of 5-4 would be an example of a team win and a pitching loss. Final score of 4-3 would be a team win and a hitting loss. Final score of 7-5 would be a hitting win and a pitching loss. Final score of 3-2 would be a pitching win and hitting loss. Final score of 6-3 would be a team win and team loss. Let’s look at 4 teams in the National League and see how this plays out.

I will look at a bad team, my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, the best team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Milwaukee Brewers, who barely missed the playoffs, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who barely made the playoffs. First, checking some basic year long stats, let’s see where each team finished the season. In runs per game, the Dodgers were 1st, the Phillies 7th, the Brewers 10th and the Pirates 27th. In on base percentage the Dodgers 1st, the Phillies 10th, the Brewers 13th, and the Pirates are at the bottom at 28th. In run prevention, the Dodgers 1st, the Phillies 15th, the Brewers 16th and the Pirates are 28th. In Fielding Independant Pitching, the Dodgers are 3rd, the Phillies 7th, the Brewers 15th and the Pirates are 23rd their highest ranking. No big surprises in those rankings. Here is how the games broke down for each team. In team losses the Pirates lead the way with 42%, followed by the Phillies with 35%, the Dodgers with 29% and the Brewers with 26%. These were the losses that the team gave up more than 4 runs and failed to score 4 runs. In games where the pitchers were responsible for the losses, the Brewers were at 33%, the Phillies 32%, the Dodgers 26% and the Pirates 21%. These were games where the hitters scored 4 or more runs but the pitchers gave up 4 or more runs in the loss. In games where the hitters were responsible for the loss, the Dodgers were at 45%, the Brewers 41%, the Pirates 37%, and Phillies 33%. These were games where the pitchers gave up 4 or less runs but the hitters could not score 4 runs in the loss. In team wins, the Dodgers led the way with 77%, followed by the Pirates 68%, the Brewers 68% and the Phillies 65%. These were games where the team scored 4 or more runs and the pitchers gave up 4 or less runs. Pitching wins were led by Phillies at 18%, the Dodgers Brewers and Pirates tied at 16%. These were games where the hitters score less than 4 runs, but the pitchers held the opponent under 3 runs for the win. Games where the hitters were responsible for the win, were led by the Phillies 17%, the Pirates and Brewers tied at 16%, with Dodgers bringing up the rear at 10%. These were games where the pitchers gave up 4 or more runs but the hitters were able to score more runs for the win. What does all of this mean other than the obvious that the Dodgers are great and the Pirates stink.

At least for these 4 teams it lays to rest the old adage that one part of the team can carry the team to victory on a consistant basis. Team wins occurred at least two thirds of the time and the Dodgers had team wins over 75% of the time. Losses on the other hand can be due to one aspect of the team, mainly hitting, not performing. At least one third of the team’s losses were due to a lack of hitting, with the Dodgers losing 45% of their games because of the bats not performing. It shows, that even with the best of teams that hitting can be a sometime thing. The Brewers did not support the aspects of their game well at all. Seventy-four per cent of their losses were due to either the pitchers or hitters not performing well, when their counterpart was doing the job. Only 20 of their 75 losses would be considered a team failure. When the pitchers pitched well, the hitters could not hit, and when the hitters hit, the pitchers could not keep the other team from scoring more runs. Winning seems to more about avoiding the bad performance rather than having great performances. There were a lot of one side of the ball fails for the Brewers which kept them out of the playoffs. We will see how other teams did when applying the 4 run rule.

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