Mains: If July were the first month of the season

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on August 6, 2019:

Every April, I write about how people make too big a deal out of what happens in the opening month. I swear, seeing an ESPN segment years ago about “What We’ve Learned So Far” after one week of the season scarred me. Anyway, the points are that (1) one month isn’t particularly predictive and (2) April, in particular, is the least-predictive month.

Based on this research from 2016, July is the second-least-predictive month, at least for batters. That may seem counterintuitive. Most teams have set their lineups in July, and it’s before the trade deadline has shaken up players’ home ballparks and roles on their teams. However, it’s also the month with a big layoff in the middle for the All-Star game. As a consequence, there are fewer games played in July than any other month of the season. For example, last season there were 419 games in April, 416 in May, 401 in June, 373 in July, 414 in August, and 408 in September. There’s a sample-size issue.

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Originally published: August 6, 2019. Last Updated: August 6, 2019.