Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Durham Bulls at the All-Star Break - Part 1

The All-Star break comes well past mid-season for Triple A baseball. The Bulls schedule calls for144 games and they have played 90 so far. Still, with the time off we can take a look at the pictures of where they are so far this year.

They are in third place in the South Division of the International League, 4 games behind Charlotte, which has just gone into the lead. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Bulls would rank #3 in the wild card standings, behind the Norfolk Tides and the Columbus Clippers.

Winning and Losing

click on chart for larger image
Last year the Bulls had played 97 games at the All-Star break and the picture was dramatically different in the South Division.

Scoring Runs and Letting Runs Score

A look at the pattern of runs scored less runs allowed this year is not very encouraging. In fact, if you run these numbers through the Pythagorean Expectation formula it comes out showing an “expectation” of a won-loss of  a dead-even 45-45 instead of the actual 47-43. That is, the Bulls are doing 4 games over .500 better than “expected”. That sort of makes sense, since on the season the Bulls have scored 369 runs, but have allowed 372.

The general thinking is that if at team is doing better that its expectation then it can be attributed to a combination of luck (small sample size, which this is) and relief pitching.


This chart shows a running ERA measure of the Bulls pitching crew. Thirty different pitchers have climbed up on the mound in a Bulls uniform this year. Three of those were position players brought on in desperate situations. Three more were pitchers from the Tampa Bay Rays on a rehab assignment. We’ll discuss the rest in future charts. This one just shows ERA for the team, the starters, and the relievers. A FIP chart is essentially the same. At a team ERA of 3.84, the Bulls are 10th in a 14-team league and a full run/9 innings behind the Norfolk Tides who lead the league at 2.94. Furthermore, if the recent trend of the relief crew were to continue, the numbers imply that the Bulls won-loss record will worsen.


Looking at team hitting on a game-by-game basis over the last 20 games (the Bulls were 8-12) we see a slight upward trend. That’s encouraging. We used OPS as a measure, but other measures (e.g., wOBA) are similar. On the year, the Bulls' team OPS is .713 and they rank 4th in the International League.

In the next post we'll take a look at individual hitters and pitchers.

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