Mariners Avoiding Extra Work

I noticed last night that the Mariners were the only team left in baseball that had yet to play an extra-inning game this season. Division-mate Oakland has already played eight. Sometimes I am content to let a little nugget like that pass off into the twitter-verse and let it die, but in this case I got intrigued enough to head to Retrosheet and see if I could dig up some context. I restricted the search to seasons starting in 1962 when the expansion to 162 games took place and started the season earlier in the year.

The best that I could do was to go by calendar dates. I would prefer to go by game counts, but that was not available to my database at this time. Luckily, calendar dates are a reasonable proxy for how many games a team has played. And the winner for the longest it has taken to play extra innings goes to the 2005 Boston Red Sox who didn’t go beyond nine until their 99th game of the season on July 25. They lost that one and then promptly went to extras the next day and won. The Red Sox also jointly own the mark for earliest extended game with Oakland when their first game went to 10 innings on March 25th, 2008 in Japan.

Having reached May 6th, the 2011 Mariners are currently in a tie for 152nd on the latest date list. That sounds low, but this is out of 1,438 team-season pairings. The Mariners franchise has some familiarity with this accomplishment coincidentally. The 1992 Mariners are tied for second on the list, needing until June 18th to play more than the needed nine frames and the 2007 and 1989 Mariners are sixth and seventh. Fourteen team-seasons have gone until at least the month of June before playing extras and the Mariners have three of them. Now only 67 more games to go to pass those ’05 Red Sox.

I also manually compiled the complete list of teams that needed at least 50 games:
BOS 2005 7-25 99th game
CHA 2002 6-18 70th game
SEA 1992 6-18 65th game
DET 1992 6-10 58th game
SEA 1989 6-05 58th game
SEA 2007 6-08 57th game
ANA 2008 5-26 53rd game
CHA 1964 6-14 51st game
KCR 2006 5-30 50th game
CAL 1981 5-31 50th game
PIT 2002 5-27 50th game

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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.

34 Responses to “Mariners Avoiding Extra Work”

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  1. bobbamopolis says:

    Avoided an extra-inning game again tonight

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  2. mattinm says:

    Pretty cool that the Mariners managed a walk-off, two-out single the night (and likely hours after, at best) this article was posted. Excellent timing.

    Keep the streak alive M’s!

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  3. Stephen says:

    FASCINATING INFO! THaNKs FOr The InforMation. Looking forward to your next article on the pertinence of jersey color and its correlation to wins.

    -85 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steven says:

      ExCELLENT COMMENT. YOuR TIME ON tHE INTeRNET IS WeLL SpENT. Looking forward to hearing you complain about how the free coffee at rest stops is awful.

      +56 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • That’s an interesting idea. The color red is supposed to inspire fear in opponents. Unfortunately, I do not think we have a sample of teams changing jersey color that would render an objective study possible.

      Maybe if I look across all major sports? Do teams in NFL, NBA, NHL change primary jersey colors more frequently?

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. NBarnes says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that a low-scoring, decent-pitching/defense team like the Mariners is capable of a streak like this. It does surprise me that a turbo-charged offensive team like the 2005 Red Sox managed such a long streak.

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    • seattlecougar says:

      I’d think it’s the other way around… Feels like there are many more 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 extra innings games than 7-7, 10-10.

      FWIW I did a quick look and only 3 of the 11 teams Matthew listed were ranked in the bottom half of that season’s offenses by runs scored. The 92 Tigers and 05 Red Sox both led the league, and the 02 ChiSox & 81 Angels were top 5.

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  5. Redbirds16 says:

    Interesting that the AL seems to dominate. Maybe this has to do with the pitchers batting in the NL, effectively giving away three or four outs a game and therefore affording less opportunity to score.

    Or maybe it’s just coincidence.

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  6. Slats says:

    Go M’s!

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  7. Jim says:

    :ExCELLENT COMMENT. YOuR TIME ON tHE INTeRNET IS WeLL SpENT. Looking forward to hearing you complain about how the free coffee at rest stops is awful”

    So in this analogy, FG articles = shitty truck stop coffee?

    Couldn’t agree more. +.

    -29 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Jim says:

    This is what happens when you pay by the post.

    -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • I’m sorry you did not find it as interesting as I did. And yes, I did get paid for writing this post though I would have written it anyways because I like sharing information.

      So what’s your motivation for commenting on it?

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      • sabernar says:

        I think maybe his point is that the article is a bit subpar. Then again, reading Fan Graphs lately, it’s probably about on-par. Not to get too off-topic, but the writing on Fan Graphs has been pretty poor lately. It’s one of the few baseball blogs that I read regularly, but that’s probably going to stop soon. The posts just don’t really bring anything to the table. A whole series of articles on why Player A, B & C are playing poorly after 50 ABs? Seriously? Even excluding those posts, the writing has been pretty bad.

        -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jim says:

        Wow, I’m totally disarmed by the even-handed, mature reaction approach. I can’t even begin to create a response.

        -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dalek says:

        Someone should EXTERMINATE Jim’s comments.

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    • Rob says:

      He may have been paid to write it, but you didn’t pay to read it, so relax.

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Jim says:

    damn’t that was supposed to be in response to Matt, not the other guy. seriously change the format of the comments section so I can troll properly.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Jim says:

    To Rob

    I take it you don’t watch much baseball

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  11. DrEasy says:

    I actually find this quite interesting, and here’s why (it’s a bit long-winded, but bear with me). I’ve been wondering whether teams in pitcher-friendly ballparks may have an advantage over other teams, in that their starters go deeper in games (playing half their games in a pitcher-friendly ballpark) and therefore there is less reliance on the bullpen. This could mean that you can perhaps afford to carry one more bat instead of an arm (and by definition the poorest one) on your roster, thus giving you an advantage offensively.

    What does that have to with the subject at hand? Well, I was wondering whether the above-mentioned advantage gets canceled out to some extent by the possibility that pitcher-friendly ballparks, since they lead to low-scoring games, have a higher likelihood of extra-inning games, which of course would tax the bullpen. It’s that last part (pitcher-friendly ballpark -> more extra-inning games) that I’d like to see confirmed.

    Looking at your findings, there’s some indication that perhaps AL teams (i.e. involved in higher-scoring games) do tend to avoid extra-innings games more. But seeing Seattle and other teams with pitcher-friendly ballparks in that list seems to counter the idea, so I still don’t really know…

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  12. Jim says:

    that last Jim post wasn’t me, Jim the dick.

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  13. ThundaPC says:

    And the team goes into extras:

    May 8th, 2011

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  14. Dave says:

    And the streak has ended.

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  15. bob says:

    fangraphs has super powers, liriano and now this.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Jim says:

    Happy Mother’s Day Bob

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  17. Mike says:

    This article is the equivalent of a ” panic bottom” in the stock market. 48 hours later the M’s go into extra innings.

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  18. Colin says:

    What team is abbreviated CHA?

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    • bigfun says:

      Chicago – American, as opposed to CHN. Less common abbreviation than CHW, but still sometimes used.

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