Baseball Reference has some really neat ways to view and organize stats. One of their features new this year is “team inning scoring”, where you can see the number of runs scored by inning and a team’s record in various game situations.
For example, the Mets have a 3-9 record when the score is in the other team’s favor in the second inning. It’s the same record when behind in the third inning. If the Mets are losing in the fourth inning, their record is 2-11. Losing after the fifth, their record is 3-14. In other words, if the Mets fall behind early, there’s little chance of them coming back. We all have witnessed the Mets’ knack for rolling over or “calling it in” once they start losing, but for once the stats actually support what we think we’re seeing.
Compare and contrast:
As you can ascertain, the team that takes the lead early in the game has the best chance of winning. But, it’s interesting to see how much “fight” the top three teams in the division have in later innings, compared to the bottom two.
What’s particularly bothersome is that in this day and age of MLB, with the worst pitchers on the staff making regular rounds (the “middle relievers”), many games are won or lost from innings five through seven. The Mets, however, clearly do not take advantage of these lesser-skilled hurlers — quite the contrary, in fact.
Probably, though, it has NOTHING to do with their approach at the plate. For example, it probably wouldn’t make a difference if they made a regular habit of taking a strike with no one on, and behind, late in a game. The 11th and 12th pitchers on a team usually have Greg Maddux-like command, and/or Sandy Koufax-like nasty stuff. Certainly you don’t want to fall behind 0-1, or even up 1-1, against unhittable guys such as Jesus Colome, Blaine Boyer, Rudy Seanez, and Taylor Tankersley — those guys are so good they make me shiver!