Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Worst Durham Bulls Team Ever?


In a word, no. That would be the 2016 Bulls under Jared Sandberg. They went 64-80 on the year and finished 12th in that year’s version of the International League. The current team is 45-48 and has risen up to 5th place overall. 

Looking back at the roster of 2016 we can see some vague similarities to this year. That is, none of the players stand out in our memory (admittedly fading a bit these days). Blake Snell put in a few innings, and a bunch of the rest had/have some major league time. But few stick out in my memory as being fun to watch on the field. 

I’m trying to seek a bit of context here. How much of the Bulls’ decline this year is simply a Triple-A decline? As much as I like to blame (and laud) the Rays for everything that happens here, maybe there’s something systemic going on. 

Here’s a thinkpiece that mentions some of the changes in Triple-A, but I don’t see any answers there.

I prefer blaming the Rays for any problems with the Bulls, and there’s some small evidence of that if we compare year-on-year team performance. It’s also fun to blame the managers, but other bad years (2005 and 2012) had managers who were greatly respected (Bill Evers and Charlie Montoyo).

So, I come back to blaming the Rays. You will notice that the Bulls almost always perform better than the Rays. I’m not enough of a geek to start running correlation coefficients on these data, but this year both teams are in decline and the Bulls peaked back in 2021. Is there a connection?

Monday, July 1, 2024

Inauspicious Start to 2nd Half


There was a moment last Thursday evening when all was right with the world. The Durham Bulls were above .500 for the first time in 2024. The pitching, hitting, baserunning, all of it, was OK. 

Did not last. In fact, the Bulls ended the week in a tie for last place. Standings. Not looking good as they head toward Norfolk for a three-game set.