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The Padres, the playoffs, and losing 10 in a row

Posted by Andy on September 6, 2010

The Padres have now lost 10 games in a row but are clinging to the NL West division lead. By using the streak analyzer, I found that the last playoff team to lose 10 games in a row at any point in the season and still make the playoffs was the 1982 Braves, who dropped 10 in a row in early August of that year.

Those 1982 Braves finished 89-73 but deserved by Pythagorean W-L to win only 85 games. They would have finished 3rd that year with just 85 wins.

According to coolstandings.com the Padres' chances of winning their division have dropped from 93% to 57% over the course of their losing streak.

Thanks to Geoff at Ducksnorts.com for the post idea.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 6th, 2010 at 7:43 am and is filed under Streak Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

38 Responses to “The Padres, the playoffs, and losing 10 in a row”

  1. STATS LLC's twitter recently noted only two teams have lost 10+ games in a row and made the playoffs. What was the other?

  2. michael clarke Says:

    1932 pirates maybe?

  3. It was the '32 Buccos. Sportscenter had this on the bottom line.

  4. But the 1932 Pirated didn't make the postseason. They finished four games behind the Cubs. That was the year of the "Called Shot" World Series.

  5. Pirates finished second that year.

  6. Don't forget, the '82 Braves also lost 3 in a row in the NLCS.

  7. I think maybe the 1951 Giants. They had a long losing streak, but they were not first place when they went through the big skid.

  8. DoubleDiamond Says:

    In the streak analyzer link, I can't get over how the 0-10 10-game streaks ranked at the beginning of the "Top 200 Performances" and the 10-0 10-game streaks ranked at the beginning of the "Bottom 200 Performances"!

  9. DD, that's because I searched for losses, so a streak with the most losses is a "top performance" is that regard. Notice is says top and bottom, not best and worst!

  10. #7 Tom is right. The 1951 Giants lost 11 in a row starting with the 4th game of the season:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYG/1951-schedule-scores.shtml?redir#5

    They were 2-12 at that point but went 96-47 (.671) the rest of the way to win the NL, finishing 1 game ahead of the Dodgers.

  11. "Those 1982 Braves finished 89-73 but deserved by Pythagorean W-L to win only 85 games."

    ---everything that's wrong with internet sportswriting.

    I can see how if a team won 90 games but their Pythagorean W-L had them winning only, say, 75-80 making a point out of it. But if the difference is a mere four games, the idea of saying they only "deserved" 85 wins is a joke.

    Winning 4-2, 10-7, 5-1, and then losing 12-0 doesn't make you "didn't deserve" to win those first three games

  12. James, the Pythagorean method suggests that a team deserves to win a certain fraction of games based on their run differential. I think we all understand that there are other factors that going into the actual winning and losing of games. Your comment is really pointless--you're picking on what I wrote for no reason whatsoever.

  13. It's the use of the word "deserves". Pythag gives an estimate of what a team would win based on runs for and against. It's an approximation, not a value judgment to assess a team's manager,character, etc., which is sometimes implied when comparing a team's actual record vs pythag.

  14. I understand that it's used of the word "deserves" but I wrote that they "deserved by Pythagorean", meaning that that method suggests they deserved to win a certain number of games. I did not write or imply that base on what the Pythagorean method says, the Braves were overall deserving of a certain number of wins.

    As this blog has increased in popularity, there seem to be more and more commenters who are out just to rip the authors and other readers here. James could have written a simple comment saying that he didn't feel the 82 Braves deserved to win anything other than what they actually won, despite what the Pythagorean method said, but instead he chose to rip me personally for no reason. I guess I could have taken more time to write it more carefully, but you know what? I don't have more time. I have a life and a job outside of this blog.

  15. "---everything that's wrong with internet sportswriting."

    Hey James, don't look at the internet then.

  16. @11-@14
    Andy, gotta come to your defense.

    James, I think you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. It sounds like you have some ax to grind way beyond the scope of Andy's original post. Andy, the increasing popularity you speak of in @14 has probably spawned some jealousy and it can take the form of dissing other posters unnecessarily.

    Andy, you seem very gracious to all participants in here, even newbs like me.

    I took the word "deserved" in the original post to mean "predicted to be".

    Returning to the topic.....what are the chances the streak will continue for the Padres? Only two of the losses in the streak have been by one run so they may not be confidence-sapping ones. They are in the middle of a long homestand but are involved in a good pitching matchup tonight. Probable starters, Padilla vs. Latos.

    The law of avergaes says they have to win soon.

  17. This post got me thinking about the Braves that year. Didn't one of their starting pitchers get lost on his way to the Fulton County Stadium during that streak? He had just received his driver's license and tried to drive the ballpark and wound up circling the freeways for a couple hours. I might be mixing this up with another season . . . or maybe it was from a movie.

  18. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Pascual Perez, but I don't think it was 1982, I think it was later than that.

  19. That was a streaky Braves team. They started the season 13-0 (tied with the 1987 Brewers for longest streak to start the season). They had a 9-game lead on July 29 and proceed to drop 19 of the next 22 games including the 11-game skid we've all been talking about. At that point they were four games out. They then won six straight to reclaim a tie for the lead. This was Joe Torre's first year managing the Braves.

    These game logs are fascinating. They lost in the final inning in the first five games of the streak! The ninth game also went extra innings. Ouch.

  20. Getting back to the Padres losing streak. They just lost three close games to Col w/o using Heath Bell. I wonder how many times he appeared in this streak. Just one of my pet peeves.

  21. @20
    There's a page for that. San Diego pitching dailies 2010:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/tgl.cgi?team=SDP&t=p&year=2010

    Far right column. Bell has pitched just once since Aug 19th. The extra-inning loss to the Braves. He gave up no runs and it was a tie game when he entered and left.

    Stauffer - 3 games (1 loss)
    Thatcher - 7 games
    Adams - 4 games
    Gregerson - 4 games (1 blown-save-loss)
    Frieri - 5 games (1 loss)
    Mujica - 4 games
    Perdermo - 1 game
    Bell - 1 game
    Webb - 1 game
    Russell - 1 game

    The rotation has the other 7 losses. Correia 2, Garland 2, Richard 1, LeBlanc 1, Leubke 1

  22. Heh, when I recently met Neil and Sean in Atlanta for dinner, I told them I had gotten there early and passed the time by taking the Pascual Perez Tour around the city. Sean laughed but Neil, being a big younger, did not remember it.

  23. I might be wrong, but didn't things like that happen to Perez more than once? Or maybe it was such a memorable occurence, in the days before 24 hour news.

    I was living in a small town in the early 80's when the first real cable channels came in. I think we got about 10 channels and three of them - WGN, WTBS, and WOR - broadcast NL baseball. Of course, all the teams they covered, sucked...

  24. Just did quick calculation, but it appears that the Pads were about +5 wins over the Pythagorean estimate before the streak began, so they were potentially due for a fall. However, they are now about -3 wins. that seems like a big swing in Pythagorean estimates in only 10 games. It doesn't guarantee they will swing back toward their estimate, but these thin do tend to even out over a season.

  25. Keep in mind the Giants have to play 3 against AZ who seem to own them, and then three against the PADS who absolutely own them this year. If the Giants can win 4 of 6, they can take the division, if not, the Pads will still win it.

  26. If you also go by Pythagorean W-L, the 1982 Giants would have finished behind them at 79-83. Looks like the Dodgers should have finished first anyway with a Pythagorean W-L of 90 wins.

  27. @ 25 Giants have four at Petco. Then also three to end the season with the Pads at home. The Padres may own them, or maybe the Giants are due as the Padres having owned anyone lately.

  28. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    it appears that the Pads were about +5 wins over the Pythagorean estimate before the streak began . . . . However, they are now about -3 wins. . . . a big swing in Pythagorean estimates in only 10 games.

    Like you, LJF, I've had the impression that the Padres have been outperforming their Pythagorean estimate for most of the season. In reality, though, they'd been between 0.2 and 2.3 games under Pythag from May 1 until August 25, the date of their last win. They've lost about 1.7 wins against Pythag since the losing streak began, but of course that's going to happen unless you're shut out every game. Currently they're at -3.257 against their Pythagorean estimate — lowest number of the season.

    The Padres actually have played very well in blowouts: They're 24-11 in games decided by five or more runs. Their runs scored per game has dropped by half in the past ten games, from 4.48 to 2.3, and they're allowing 50% more runs per game, over five as compared to 3.41 over the first 125 games.

    We Padres fans came into the season with zero expectations. Honestly, to be leading the division by a game in September is bonus territory, even though the Pads have raised everyone's anxiety level by frittering away a much larger lead over the past two weeks.

  29. @28
    Tuna, don't expectations always color how critical fans and media are of a team's performance in a given season?

    With respect to the 2010 Padres compared to the 1982 Braves, I'm not sure what it says for the Padres post-season chances. In their favor, the Giants have only gone 5-5 over the current losing streak.

    I'm interested in the mid-season Pythagorean as an indicator of how likely they are to snap out of the losing streak.

    I don't think the Pythagorean % over a 10-game period means very much, unless I misunderstand the statistic. I've always thought it was an empirical formula adjusted over many, many games to predict the teams's wins based on runs scored and runs allowed.

    How can one distinguish the -3.3 Pythagorean as a predictor of Padres wins in the next few games as compared to random probabilitiy that a team will lose 11 straight games? The random probability the Padres will win tonight is (1.00 - 0.5^11) = 95%.

  30. @29
    No Neil, that's the Gambler's Fallacy. If you flip a coin ten times and get heads ten times, the likelihood that the eleventh flip will be heads is 50%. Regression does not say that good luck is offset by bad luck going forward (or vice versa). Regression says that good or bad luck is replaced by *random* luck going forward. Because of this, there's no way to predict when streaks end (or when they start).

    The only thing you can look at is the underlying signal... good teams will win ~60% of the time, bad teams ~40% of the time. So good teams will have more winnning streaks than losing streaks (and vice versa).

    You always get a big Pythagorean swing with a late season streak. During such a streak, you'll change the season WPct significantly while barely making a dent in the full-season RS/RA ratio. For the Padres recent streak, I would have guessed a swing of 6 or maybe seven. Using full-season RS/RA they were likely expected to win 6 or 7 but instead they lost them all.

  31. @30
    Thank you, David. Hmmm.... I need to re-take my Statistics 101.

  32. Kahuna. Yeah, I just checked the runs scored/agaisnt again and my earlier post was off. they were actually a little below the expectation when the streak bagan. It's what I get for sneding a post while taking a quick break at work. Shoddy, shoddy.

  33. "James could have written a simple comment saying that he didn't feel the 82 Braves deserved to win anything other than what they actually won, despite what the Pythagorean method said, but instead he chose to rip me personally for no reason"

    I didn't want to write a "simple" comment about the Braves, I wanted directly to critique your word choice because I think you often aren't careful enough with your words. You speak as if certain statistics (Pythagorean W-L, W.A.R.) offer truth when in fact they offer one perspective. You'll trot out statements like "Who's the worst .300 hitter this year?" or "Who was the worst player to ever knock in 100 runs" and sure enough there'll be a list, sorted by Wins Over Replacement, as if this is the magic statistic that divines all facets of a player's value. Or if Pythagorean W-L is something more than another way of looking at a team's win-loss record that sometimes has value and sometimes doesn't.

    I like reading what you write, but I wish you'd be more careful to realize that no statistic even comes close to evaluating a player's value, a team's "luckiness," or anything else really. That's why we have so damn many statistics.

  34. James, thanks for your reasonable reply and explanation. I appreciate you writing something that's critical without being rude like your first comment. I don't disagree with your points; I have to make certain compromises in some of my posts because of time constraints. Most readers here accept my shortcuts and are happy to post their more detailed analyses in the comments, which I welcome even if they differ from mine. Sorry that my approach seems to bother you so much--I just don't have the resources to please everybody.

  35. Does anybody else get the feeling that the Rockies are gonna swoop in and take this division? They're 11-4 in their last 15 games, and we all know they have the ability for a September surge.

  36. 2000 Yankees has a 7 game losing streak to edn the season (after a 6 game losing streak was snapped wot 2 wins, meaning a 2-13 finish) and then lost Game 1 of the playoffs too. Then, they won the WS.

  37. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Tuna, don't expectations always color how critical fans and media are of a team's performance in a given season?

    Of course! The Padres have played poorly over the past two weeks; but, considering how poorly we fans expected them to play from Opening Day on, I think we're still basking in gratitude that they've done so well. Call it the Gift Horse Effect.

    I don't think the Pythagorean % over a 10-game period means very much, unless I misunderstand the statistic. I've always thought it was an empirical formula adjusted over many, many games to predict the teams's wins based on runs scored and runs allowed.

    That's my understanding too. The only reason I mentioned the losing streak in connection with Pythagorean percentage is that, purely on the basis of runs scored to runs allowed, a 10-game losing streak ALWAYS decreases a team's overall season Pythag over the interval from game x to game x+10, because the formula won't "predict" a zero-win streak unless the team is shut out in every game. As for using Pythagorean percentage to predict whether a team will win an individual game . . . that's as much of a fool's errand as anything Las Vegas can offer. (-;þ

    Believe me, I'd love Pythagorean percentage to mean more than it does. Earlier this season, when the Pirates were winning most of their one-run games and losing all the blowouts, I tried to figure out some way to show that they were having a historically strange season. I couldn't do it. Having something like an eight-game difference between expected and actual W-L % over a forty-game stretch is interesting, but it really doesn't mean very much. According to the Pythagorean formula, now that the season is more than 80% over, the Pirates are four games off their expected percentage. That's too close to "normal" to be interesting, even retrospectively.

  38. [...] above .500 for the season. One, the 1982 Atlanta Braves, reached the postseason. (As our pal Andy at Baseball-Reference observes, those Braves were the last team to make the playoffs despite a double-digit losing streak.) If the [...]