Morrison: The best team in baseball? The team after the Red Sox

From SABR member Ryan P. Morrison at Beyond the Box Score on February 13, 2014:

Boston featured an incredible offense last season, posting 853 runs (Detroit was next with 796, St. Louis third with 783). But Boston did more to wear down opposing pitching staffs than simply score — the team got on base at a .349 clip, tops in the majors, and was also among the league leaders in pitches per plate appearance (4.01 P/PA).

As a result, there was no lineup that dominated opposing pitching staffs last season like that of the Red Sox. The team’s hitters saw a grand total of 25,667 pitches, which was well above the second-highest total (Twins, 25,027) and well above the third-best mark (Athletics, 24,500). The 1,167 pitches seen advantage over Oakland was greater than the difference between Oakland and the 20th place team (St. Louis, 23,345).


Here’s where it gets interesting. If Boston truly abused pitching staffs, then it stands to reason that teams might fare worse than normal just after playing the Red Sox. For instance, after the Yankees opened the 2013 with a three-game set against Boston, they played the Tigers, promptly losing the first game. Next up for the Red Sox was the Blue Jays, who also then lost game one against Detroit. Then the Orioles, who lost to New York. And the Rays. And the Indians. And the Royals. And the Athletics.

It was not until April 29 that a Boston opponent won its first game against another team, when Houston turned around to beat the Yankees. And the trend continued. All told, Boston opponents went 17-34 in their next games, for a .333 winning percentage. Although no MLB team managed a winning percentage as good as .600 last season, the team that stood in just after Boston won two-thirds of its games.

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Originally published: February 13, 2014. Last Updated: February 13, 2014.