It is exceedingly difficult for teams to consistently win one-run games. Teams that have a good or bad record in one-run games one season usually don’t perform to that same level the following year.
For example in 2015, the Pirates, Angels and Cubs combined to go a ridiculous 105-55 (65.6%) in one-run games. The next season those same three clubs went 59-64 (48.0%) in games decided by one run. Even the Cubbies, who won more than 100 games and captured their first World Series in 108 years were below .500 in one-run games.
Teams that perform badly are just as likely to regress to the mean in one-run games. In 2015 the Blue Jays, Athletics and Phillies went 50-90 (35.7%) in one-run games. Magically, a year later they went 74-76 (49.3%). Philadelphia even road the regression train during the season. The Phillies started the year with a 14-3 (82.4%) record in one-run games before finishing 28-23 (54.9%).
What teams can we expect to improve and decline in 2017 based on record in one-run games?
2016 was a great year for the Texas Rangers. The team won the AL West with a 95-67 record. Yet when you adjust for their underlying statistic and quality of opponent the Rangers project as a 79-win club. Why? Texas went an MLB-best 36-11 in one-run games. That was the best winning percentage in one-run games in baseball dating back to 1901. The Rangers are expected to take a step back in 2017 as oddsmakers have posted the team’s season win total at 85.5 games.
The Yankees and Tigers are two more teams that should see their records in one-run games move toward the .500 mark. Both squads won more than 60% of their games decided by a single run last year. New York and Detroit have win totals below their 2016 record.
The Rays, Twins and Rockies combined to win just a third of their games (40-76) decided by one run last season. None of them made the playoffs and Tampa Bay and Minnesota finished at the bottom of their respective divisions. Even a modest improvement in one-run games could do wonders for their team records.
With Opening Day Sunday, look for the Rangers to regress and teams like the Rays, Twins and Rockies to improve based on record in one-run games.
2017 MLB Season
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