One Run MLB Games
Every time we lose a bet on a one run MLB game, it’s disheartening to say the least. Personally, I’d rather get blown out and lose by five runs than have a game won and have the bullpen give up a one-run loss late or trail by a run throughout the game and be unable to push across that winning marker.
Even worse is when you know a team has a bad record in one-run games, you make a play on them and they drop another one-run decision. And the reason they drop that one-run decision, more often than not, is due to something the manager did or didn’t do.
Think about it: when does a manger figure to have the greatest impact, in a blowout game or in a one-run contest. The players don’t need him when they’re winning by eight runs nor is there anything he can do when they’re down by ten. It’s when the game is close or tied in the late innings or when the team has a chance to play for one run early or go for the big inning or decisions have to be made on when to go to the bullpen that the manager can have his greatest impact.
Unfortunately, a lot of them have impacts that are decidedly negative. There’s a long list of teams that play worse in one run games than they do in games decided by two runs or more and a lot of the blame for that has to be laid at the managers’ feet. Conversely, for those teams that have played better in one-run games than they have in games decided by two runs or more the manager deserves the credit.
In the American League Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City and Oakland have all fared better in one-run games than in games decided by two runs or more. So hats off to Terry Francona, John Gibbons, Joe Maddon, Ron Gardenhire, Buddy Bell and Ken Macha.
The Yankees, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, the Angels, Texas and Seattle are all faring worse in one-run games than in other contests. With Detroit the margin is just a slight one so Jim Leyland still deserves a hats off, but this still might bear watching in the postseason. The Yankees record in one-run games is not that good with Mariano Rivera having blown a couple of saves this year. Joe Torre’s record as a manger has always been a little suspect: he’s always had the horses so how much managing does he actually have to do?
The White Sox are over .500 in one-run games but down from how they perform in games decided by two or more runs. Cleveland is the worse team in the league in one-run games: 9-20, .310. The Angels and Rangers are below .500 in one-run decisions too with the Rangers markedly so (.379). This does not speak well for the managing jobs turned in this year by Mike Sciosia and Buck Showalter with two teams that are in contention in the A.L. West.
Over in the National League Willie Randolph and the Mets are playing .694 baseball in games decided by one run. Jerry Narron and the Reds are at .636 and the Padres and Bruce Bochy .567. All these clubs are either in or contending for postseason play so we’ll give these three guys a hats off and hope they continue the good work.
Phil Garner with Houston, Ned Yost in Milwaukee and Bob Melvin in Arizona also have their clubs over .500 in one-run decisions, significantly better than they’ve done in games decided by two runs or more. None of these three has that much to work with so their managing in close games has been vital to any success their teams have enjoyed.
Felipe Alou in San Francisco and Tony LaRussa in St. Louis have their clubs slightly above .500 in one run games. The Giants are performing a bit better in close contests than they are in other games and the Cardinals somewhat worse.
Philadelphia (Charlie Manuel), Florida (Joe Girardi), Atlanta (Bobby Cox), Washington (Frank Robinson), Chicago (Dusty Baker), Pittsburgh (Jim Tracy), Los Angeles (Grady Little), and Colorado (Clint Hurdle) are all significantly below .500 in one-run games and significantly worse in one-run decisions than in games decided by two runs or more. For teams like Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles that are fighting for postseason berths a bit better performance out of the manager might have had them in better playoff position. They other clubs are out of contention and don’t have much to work with but that’s no excuse for the manager to make things worse.
How does this help us from a handicapping standpoint? Check opposing teams records in one-run games before making a play to make sure you’re not blindly playing a team with a poor record in one-run games versus a team with a strong record. Or, in contrast, give an added edge on the line to a team with a good one-run record going against a team that seems to find a way to lose (or mismanage) such close games.
Also, before making a play on the run line check how a team has performed in one-run games and how many of such games the team has been involved in. Taking the 1.5 runs with a team that plays a lot of close games could be a wise move while laying the 1.5 with a team that doesn’t play that many one-run decisions might be the way to go. Any path that leads to an edge is one that should be followed.