Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stranding the Bases Loaded

I was watching the Brewers do their best to lose to the Reds last night. In the third inning, Prince Fielder came up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded and promptly flew out to shallow left to end the inning. As it happened, I thought to myself "Oh man! Not again!" I didn't know the numbers at the time, but it certainly *seemed* like the Brewers had ended way too many innings in this short season with the bases loaded (it didn't help that I was under the impression that that was the second inning of the day that it had happened - I was wrong, but still). I decided to look into it and see just how many times a year a team lets this happen.

I played around with the data in the Retrosheet database for a little bit and found a few interesting things. First things first, the teams that stranded the bases loaded the most (and least) number of times last year.

2008 Teams that Stranded the Bases Loaded the Most
New York Mets...........72 innings
Philadelphia Phillies...69
Florida Marlins.........69
Atlanta Braves..........67
Boston Red Sox..........64

2008 Teams that Stranded the Bases Loaded the Least
Kansas City Royals......33 innings
Minnesota Twins.........36
Seattle Mariners........38
Houston Astros..........42
San Francisco Giants....45

It's nice to see teams like the Royals and Giants at the bottom of the list - though I'm afraid that they're probably on the bottom of the list only because they just don't load the bases that often. I might have to check on that.

As deflating as leaving the bases loaded can be, it can get worse: when you leave the bases loaded more than once in a game. It turns out, though, that it isn't all that uncommon of an occurrence. In the 2008 season alone, there were 230 games where one team stranded the bases loaded more than once. The leaders in that regard are:

2008 Teams that Stranded the Bases Loaded More Than Once in a Single Game
Philadelphia Phillies...13 games
Atlanta Braves..........12
Oakland A's.............11
New York Mets...........11
Cincinnati Reds.........11

Which, of course, led me to wonder what team stranded the bases loaded the most in a single game. In the 2008 season, it was the Phillies on June 15, 2008, at Busch Stadium. In a ten inning game, the Phillies left the bases loaded in four different innings: the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 9th. At least they were able to score 5 runs in those innings.

It turns out that what the Phillies did that June 15 is actually pretty rare. In the entire Retrosheet era, there have been only 42 games total where a single team stranded the bases loaded 4 different times. That's less than once a year. In fact, the 5 runs scored by the Phils in those innings makes them one of the more successful of these teams. Some teams actually were unable to score any runs in their 4 bases-loaded innings.

As rare as this is, though, there have actually been two games in which runners were stranded with the bases loaded in more than four innings.

Team Stranding the Bases Loaded in the Most Innings In a Single Game
Los Angeles Dodgers on July 27, 1990..........6 innings*
Boston Red Sox on May 2, 1971 (Game 2)........5 innings
(42 separate games)...........................4 innings

* game went into extra innings

It's hard to claim these two games as the outright record-holders, though. The Dodgers game took 12 innings to play and they stranded the bases loaded in the 10th and 11th. They were able to win the game in the 12th with a bases loaded single. Technically, they "stranded" the bases loaded in that 12th inning, but it's hard to lump that together with the other innings. The Red Sox game was a standard 9-inning game but, again, the Sox won it in the 9th with a walk-off single, technically stranding the bases loaded. Still, can you imagine going to a game and watching your favorite team leave the bases loaded inning-after-inning. In that Red Sox game, for example, they left the bases loaded every other inning. As a fan, that would be incredibly frustrating. At least in that example they were able to pull it out at the end of the game.

I understand that this may not be the most exciting piece of information, but I do think it is something worth knowing. Stranding the bases loaded is obviously something that every team does, but I think it's pretty clear that some teams tend to do it more often. All you can hope for is that your team makes the most of the situations it has and scores some runs before the innings end.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

And I thought the Braves woes were due to pitching ... geez.

Josh said...

2008 Teams that Stranded the Bases Loaded More Than Once in a Single Game
New York Mets...........11

I actually thought it was more.
Wow. So many LOB!


Paul said...

The Dodgers team had 25 LOB in that 1990 game. Is that the record? It's gotta be close.

lar said...

Paul: pretty close. There was a 20 inning game in 1973 where the Braves left 27 batters on base, and there was a 19 inning game in 1979 where the Padres left 26 runners on base.

That Dodgers game is one of 5 games in the retrosheet era with 25 LOB, though it is by far the shortest game (it was 12 innings; the other 4 games were 14, 18, 20, 25 innings long).

The next closest game of 13 innings or less was an 11 inning game in 1991 where the Twins left 21 on base. There was also a 12 inning game last year where the Yankees also left 21 on base.

The most left on base in a 9 inning game was a Yankees-Red Sox game in 1956, where the Yankees left 20 in base.