Mains: The importance of April

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on April 2, 2018:

Four years ago, the defending World Series champion Red Sox lost the first game of their season to the Orioles. The next day, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote:

Luckily, the Red Sox do not play in a town that’s likely to overreact to a loss on Opening Day. Wednesday night, however, just became a Must Win for the Olde Town Team.

Shaughnessy caught a lot of grief for that line. Re-reading it, I think there was a heavy dose of sarcasm in it, mocking the Boston sports milieu. But it does illustrate how much importance people attach to early season performance. By the end of this week, we’ll be seeing “what we’ve learned so far” features on television and in print. What we’ve learned, people, is that some pundits don’t understand that over a 162-game season, a seven- or eight-game sample doesn’t tell us much of anything.

This issue has been a hobbyhorse of mine. I’ve found that April is less correlated to overall season-long results than any other month of the season, and that most of the trends attributed to April are either weak or non-existent. This year, I want to take a more holistic approach to April. What has happened to teams that have had a really good April? What about teams that have stumbled? Is the calendar destiny?

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 2, 2018. Last Updated: April 2, 2018.