Making Up For Errors

The Mariners won today, beating the Indians by a 9-2 score. Jokes about the Mariners inept offense aside, there’s not much usually inherently interesting in the typical line score of a 9-2 game. Where this game picked up a noteworthy angle was in the last column of the line score, the errors. The Mariners committed four of them while the Indians were charged with zero and yet, the Mariners still won and won handily.

Four errors in one game does not happen all that often, and the team winning happens even less often. In fact, digging into Retrosheet, there were 1,021 such games in their records and the error-happy team had prevailed in only 191 of them for an 18.7% winning percentage. As a side note, there was no meaningful split between the home and road winning records here.

My initial research was spurred by a request for similarly errored games, but if I open it up to games with four or more errors for one team and zero for the other then the sample size expands to 1,342 and a 17.3% winning percentage for the erroring team. It’s merely two data points – and there are far more robust studies showing the same effect – but it makes sense that as the sample lets in games with more errors, the winning percentage drops. Errors are not the greatest measurement tool we have given their subjectivity, but they do have a correlation with losing.

Of course, I had to carry it to the logical conclusion and find the game or games with the largest disparity between errors. That turned out to be this game between the Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals with the Royals (of course) committing a whopping eight errors to Oakland’s zero. Unsurprisingly, the Royals were trounced 11-2 in that game, although only four of the Athletics’’ runs were deemed due to the errors. The widest spread still resulting in a victory for the sloppy team circles back around to the Mariners in this game where despite seven errors and a 7-2 deficit to the Brewers in Milwaukee, the Mariners came back and won 10-8 on the road. Now that’s winning dirty.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

10 Responses to “Making Up For Errors”

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  1. Drakos says:

    The fluky thing to me is that not only did the Mariners commit 4 errors but they gave up 10 hits and 2 walks and still only gave up 2 runs.

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  2. But only 4 guys reached base via an error in the largest disparity game. There were a couple throwing errors leading to extra bases.

    That game has the record for the most “reached on errors” with 7. The Reds (errorless) beat the Dodgers (7 errors) in 1972. Both of the games linked to in the article and this one are from the 1970s. Interesting.

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  3. jim says:

    why does this have so many minus votes? you guys don’t like wholesale?

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  4. maqman says:

    The M’s are becoming offensive, don’t you just love it? If not get used to it.

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  5. Hurtlocker says:

    What makes this even more interesting is that Hernandez pitched 6 innings of relief??

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  6. ebox75 says:

    The Red Sox won Games 1 and 2 of the 2004 WS while committing 4 errors in each game.

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  7. Jake says:

    What this reminds me of is that in the first two games of the 2004 World Series the Red Sox committed four errors in each game and still won both. Thanks to this article I can appreciate further how blessed that post season was.

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