Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Good pitching means no losing streaks? What about good hitting?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've heard/read baseball people mention that they don't think the Red Sox will lose the division to the Yankees because their starting pitchers will keep them out of losing streaks.

In this article on ESPN.com, Sean McAdams quotes a baseball executive:
"I don't see it," said one baseball executive from outside the AL East. "The Yankees have a shot because of their lineup. But the Red Sox's starting pitching should keep them out of losing streaks.

This implies that a team that has quality starting pitching has a lower chance to go on a losing streak than a team that has quality hitters. It seems that many people are taking this as fact, but I think it may be one of those statements that get repeated so often that people begin to believe it as fact without really knowing it or doing any work on it. Has anyone done a study on this? Please email me (or comment in this blog) if you know of any study on this topic.

A good study would need to control for the other side. Compare teams with good hitting and poor pitching versus teams with good pitching and poor hitting. The good hitting versus the good pitching would have to be about equally good. And the poor pitching versus the poor hitting would have to be aboue equally bad.

Don't get me wrong. I do not think the Red Sox will lose the division, although there is a small probability that they could lose it. They are a heavy favorite to keep their lead. My opinion is not based on the (possible) myth that their quality pitching will prevent them from having a losing streak. My opinion is based on the fact they have an overall quality team. Very good starting pitching, great closer, and a quality lineup.

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