First Pitch: An Amazing Stat That Shows How Good the Pirates Have Been This Year

A few days ago I saw a comment on Twitter along the lines of how Pittsburgh fans are conditioned to view all sports in the scope of a 16 game schedule. So in cases where the Pirates lose four games in a row, Pittsburgh fans start saying ridiculous things like “The Collapse 3 has started”. It seemed silly earlier in the week when a four game losing streak was seen as more than just a baseball team having a few bad days in a row. When you consider the losing streak came a week after a nine game winning streak, and was immediately followed by a three game winning streak, it seems flat out ridiculous that those four games were highlighted.

I was thinking about the “16 game” tweet today. Simple math says that a 162 game season means that every ten baseball games equals one football game. I was thinking about that tonight, and thinking about how the Pirates are now 5-5 in their last ten games. They were 4-6 in their last ten before tonight’s win. Either way, if that’s a bad stretch, they’re doing pretty good.

I went back further to see what their worst ten game stretch was. I wanted to see if it had gotten worse than that 4-6 run at some point this season. I looked at every ten game stretch to find that worst run. What I found was that the Pirates have never been worse than 4-6 in any ten game stretch this year. And that hasn’t even happened that often. Here are the dates:

April 1st to April 12th: They started the season 4-6, which was fueled by going 1-5 to start the year, then 3-1 in their next few games.

April 29th to May 10th: They had three instances where they lost two games in a row during this stretch.

May 27th to June 5th and May 31st to June 11th: Probably the worst point of the season was when they lost 5 of 6 to the Braves and Reds during this stretch.

July 2nd to July 12th: The start of The Collapse 3.0 happened with their recent four game losing streak.

That’s it. This season there are 83 possible ten game stretches. Out of those 83 stretches, the Pirates only have a losing record in five of them, and they’ve never dropped below 4-6 in any ten game stretch. I only had to check the first ten games in 2012 to find a stretch worse than 4-6. I found six losing 10 game periods by the time I made it to May 6th, 2012.

The starting pitching has prevented the Pirates from having a lot of losing streaks. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The starting pitching has prevented the Pirates from having a lot of losing streaks. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

I don’t know what this says, other than the fact that the Pirates haven’t really seen a big slump this year, and they have rarely seen a losing stretch. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since they are once again tied for the best record in baseball. You don’t get to that point by piling up a lot of losing stretches. I think the numbers cited above are the result of the starting pitching. Pitching has obviously been the strength of the team, but the Pirates also have a situation where on any given day they have a starter who can go out and get a win. In their last 26 games they have given up more than three runs in a game just eight times.

As long as the pitching holds up, this is a team that won’t see too many bad stretches, and will avoid the big losing stretches. The pitching has already seen some serious injury problems in the first half, and the depth has seen a full season’s worth of testing. Even with all of the extreme depth issues, the Pirates have managed the results you see above. Unless a Sharknado takes out the entire pitching staff, I don’t see the Pirates going into a stretch that would lead to The Collapse 3.0.

Links and Notes

**Download the newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 13: What Are the Needs For the Pirates as the Deadline Nears?

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker.

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates International Signing Tracker.

**Pirates Prospects is Looking For Writers and an Ad Sales Representative.

**All-Star Andrew McCutchen Supplies Power for 4-2 Pirates Victory.

**Prospect Watch: Jameson Taillon Gets Hammered; Blake Taylor Makes His Debut.

**Jeff Locke Will Not Pitch in All-Star Game, Gerrit Cole Starts Sunday.

**DSL Prospect Watch: Both Pirates Teams Win As De La Cruz Stretches Streak To Three Games.

**Minor League Schedule: Glasnow Takes Show On The Road.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • stickyweb

    Tim,
    Nice try to bring reason into the conversation, but obviously the fact that Inge is still on the roster is the 6th sign of the apocolypse and the Collapse v3 is pre-ordained and inevitable. :-)

  • https://profiles.google.com/103768864712934644893 iverar@yahoo.com

    It is a long season. The key is to avoid the loooong losing streaks which I think we will given our quality starting pitchers. We have a lot of “stoppers” in our starting 5 that can put an end to a skid. Losing 4 in a row is nothing compared to what we dealt with in 2010. Wow, that team was bad and routinely seemed to lose 8-9+ games in row. I doubt that happens this year. We will probably have a few more stretches where we lose 4 games in row. It happens over 162. Even if we win 95 games that means we will still lose A LOT of games. That is MLB. But we do need the offense to give us a bit more. Even with stellar pitching like we had in the first two games of the A’s series, you still have to score a few runs. I do think it will be tough for us to match the rest of this season what he did before the ASB. That is unless the offense gives us a bit more. Will be interesting to see what Huntington does as far as a trade(s) go over the next couple of weeks.

  • emjayinTN

    The Pirates have continued pitching very well by both the Rotation and the bullpen, and the Pirates have picked it back up again with scoring late to win games. We still have some guys in the lineup who are having down years compared to 2012, and that is being led by Garrett Jones. Next on that list is Neil Walker, and then we can get around to the guys who are not regulars, Inge and Snider. Thankfully, Marte, ‘Cutch, Alvarez, and Martin are well ahead or even with last year, and great positives from the add of Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata back from injuries. I cannot see Brandon Inge leaving unless he becomes completely inadequate. After the AS Break, teams look for guys with experience that could add a clutch hit down the stretch, and he would qualify in that category. I liked the add of Canzler, and that will mean that Harrison will return to AAA. Barring any injuries, this is the group who got us here and IMO, is the group we should ride through the whole season. We do need the bats of Walker and Jones to come alive, and our pitching should be 100% after the AS Break.

    • buster09

      I can’t see Huntingdon bringing in somebody that Hurdle immediately puts in RF to replace Tabata at this stage of the season. A decent RH hitting bench guy would help,but I’m not sure who would be available right now. Whoever it is though,NH will get hammered in the Pitts. media for not trading for Miggy !

  • pdad

    My defense of the ridiculous pirate fans:
    20 losing seasons in a row
    2 heartbreaking collapses the last two years
    The starters are bound to regress because of FIP
    The strand rate is unsustainable
    The bullpen is overworked?
    They need more offense
    We are fans not analysts which makes us a bit irrational at times and we have been let down a lot

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      pdad…agree. Until we hit 82 wins (hopefully in august :) ), I will not relax.

      • Jeff

        And then the losing streak is buried, hopefully never to be mentioned again…except by future historians.

  • Joe9195

    Two movie scenes:

    After every win – the groundskeepers from Major League “They’re still sh!tty.”

    After every loss – Rob Schneider from The Waterboy “Oh no, we suck again!”

  • BostonsCommon

    Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Combined with one of the best defenses in MLB and you have a team that will not go on prolonged losing streaks. I mean c’mon, were talking about Chalie Morton as your #5, and really the only question mark. And that question mark moves to the ‘pen if/when Wandy makes it back. The bats only need to remain adequate for this team to win. We’ve seen SFO win a couple of World Series with this same model recently.