Futility Squad

The Red Sox have had a run of trouble at the plate lately, and we were curious to see how it stacked up historically for the team.  Using Baseball Reference’s famous Play Index, we have learned that the current streak of five games with two runs or fewer is, in the grand scheme of things, a rather ignominious accomplishment.  This is the first such five game stretch in seven years but not the worst such schneid since the Retrosheet era began.  In 1978 during the famous summer swoon the Sox went six games with similar ineptitude, winning one while scoring two or fewer runs in a slate of games against Minnesota, Texas, and Kansas City. 

  • July 25th, 5-2 loss at Minnesota
  • July 26th, 2-0 loss at Texas
  • July 27th, 3-1 loss at Texas
  • July 28th, 4-0 loss to KC at the Fens
  • July 29th, 1-0 win against KC at the Fens
  • July 30th, 2-1 loss to KC at the Fens

During that stretch 30 years ago, the team hit .198 with an OBP of .238 and 38 men left on base.  They had one homer in six games, 33Ks and only 10 walks and one steal.  Remarkably, over those six games Red Sox relief pitchers threw a total of 2.1 innings in relief.  Total.  Five of the games were completed by the starter and only one got a win, Jim Wright on July 29th.  Roy Halladay has nothing on those guys, frustration-wise.

This year’s stretch is actually worse offensively, despite the two wins.

  • team batting average of .153
  • OPS of .419
  • 33 whiffs, already
  • 4 RBI
  • "only" 27 LOB.  (We all complain about LOB, but shouldn’t it be clear to us that the higher that number the better off we probably are?)

If Clay Buchholz wins a pitcher’s duel tonight we will be in nearly historic territory.  The longest winning streak for any AL team in the last 52 years when scoring two or fewer runs is a mere three.  In this context, 3 out of six would be a phenomenal accomplishment considering the level of offensive incompetence.  The Sox can steer us away from all of these historical comparisons and save us some time by just busting out of this slump with a big game tonight.  For this, we (and our day job) would be very thankful.

6 comments… add one

  • I had to put up a comment on this thread just to make myself feel better about the time I spent doing this research. I couldn’t bear the big fat “0” in the comments parentheses.
    Move along.

    SF May 2, 2008, 1:59 pm
  • hahaha. Very funny, SF.
    Sooner, and hopefully tonigh, or later, these things will come together. But, great post just the same, man.

    Brad May 2, 2008, 2:09 pm
  • This reminded me of the description of the 1908 White Sox offense in the book “More than Merkle” written about the 1908 pennant race.
    There the author calculates that the “Hitless Wonders” (team BA of .240) relied on having the highest “run efficiency” in the league to keep them in the pennant race – that is, they scored 0.54 runs for every hit that they got.
    I was curious about how the Sox would come out on that metric. I suppose you should include all baserunners (I’m not quite sure why they didn’t do that for the 1908 WS).
    Anyhow, I hope that we haven’t got down to 1908 levels of offensive futility just yet…………..

    dabize May 2, 2008, 2:17 pm
  • Here’s some more fun stats, using B-R’s streak analyzer:
    This is tied for the 13th-worst five-game stretch in red Sox history in terms of runs scored. Take out the deadball seasons, and it’s tied for sixth. On the bright side, 2-3 ties for the best winning percentage among all five-game sets with no more than four runs scored.
    No one was worse than the 1906 Sox. Starting with the second game of a July 11 double-header, the Sox lost 8-0, 4-1, 8-1, 3-0 and 2-0.
    The 2008 Sox have only given up nine runs over the same span, tied for second-best among Sox teams to score five or fewer runs in five games. The 1908 Sox gave up just six runs but went 1-4 because they could score only three.
    The luckiest stretch was in 1909, when the Sox were outscored, 9-5, in five games but won three. In 1916, the Sox scored just eight runs but held opponents to just five and compiled a 4-1 record. In the same year, the Sox scored 16 runs and went 5-0 in the process — the lowest number of runs a Red Sox club has scored during a five-game winning streak. That 1916 pitching staff was a beast, though.
    On the other end of the spectrum, the 1950 Red Sox scored an astounding 82 runs from June 3-8. That, of course, included the record-setting destruction of the St. Louis Browns — 20-4 and 29-4 thrashings. They also won, 17-7 and 12-0, over the White Sox with an 8-4 loss mixed in between. Of course, the Sox then went on to lose 12-7 and 18-8, which is why despite their amazing offense they did nothing that season. In fact, the 8-4 loss to Chicago preceding the Browns games began another notable five-game stretch: The highest-scoring five games in which the Sox had a losing record.
    History is fun!

    Paul SF May 2, 2008, 2:43 pm
  • “…History is fun!…”
    hehe….is it?

    dc May 2, 2008, 10:17 pm
  • 1950 was a yankee sweep over phillie [as i recall ;) ] …the “whiz kids” were more like the fizz[le] kids… …2nd consecutive championship and 13th overall…you’re right, history is fun…. ;)

    dc May 2, 2008, 10:22 pm

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