I like the Sun!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 07:20
Jul 162011

The Yankees lost badly to the Blue Jays last night for the second straight night, dropping a 7-1 decision one night after being mauled 16-7 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score (they gave up 8 in the first inning). I don’t want to talk about that, though if it continues I will certainly have to.

What I want to talk about instead is that, with those losses, the Yankees fall to 27-31 in games played at night, while they are 26-5 in games played in the daytime. This is certainly a remarkable split, and likely the result of pure chance, but the split is wide enough to warrant at least a cursory closer look.

Conventional wisdom is that daylight favors the hitters. They see the ball better, and theoretically it carries better, as well, so that historically batting averages, home run totals, runs scored: all go up in the daytime compared to night baseball. I don’t have data to verify this, and may not do the research, but it stands to reason.

Sure enough, the Yankees as a team have a line of .278/.356/.485/841 in day baseball, with only .248/.330/.421/751 at night. What appears to be mostly at fault here is the batting average, which accounts for 60 of the 90 point drop in OPS.

The biggest culprit appears to be Jeter: at night he is hitting a Mendoza-like .235/.290/.282/572 – a terrible line even for a super-slick fielding shortstop, which (sad to say) Jeter is clearly not. Not only shouldn’t he be leading off, he clearly shouldn’t be playing at all. Under the sun, though, his line is a wee bit better: .345/.414/.512/926. Wow! That looks like a Hall-of-Fame player in his prime, even at DH. To post such a line as a shortstop, well, it is MVP territory and beyond.

So I thought maybe age: perhaps OLD eyes don’t see the ball at night. So who is the young stud on the Yankees? Brett Gardner. Oops: Day .330/.414/.454/868 Night .240/.316/.371/688. Not quite as bad as Jeter, but quite a split.

Then there is the pitching. Of course the pitchers’ record is 26-5, but what about the ERA? Maybe they are winning all those games because they are hitting so well?  Not so fast: the TEAM ERA in Day games is 2.68, while at night it is 4.03! The two minor-league deals are the most dramatic: Freddy Garcia is 4-1 1.57 in the daylight and 3-6 5.12 at night, and Bartolo Colon is 4-1 2.04 under the Sun and 2-4 4.39 under the lights.

Is this split real? I don’t know, of course. Statistically it could still be chance, though that chance is getting smaller. It doesn’t meet the 99% standard most statisticians use (that is, there is more than a 1% chance that it is random luck), but that 26-5 record is the best of the past 55 years, and tied for the best ever since the widespread introduction of lights.

What does it mean? Well, I worry about the fact that almost 100% of the postseason is played at night. Uh-oh!

6 Responses to “I like the Sun!”

  1. Neat observation.

    Thought on blog – maybe including the comments on the front page would spark more conversation.

    • I don’t know how to do that, actually. The big issue is that I get a lot of spam comments, so I don’t dare to just allow anyone to comment – I need to monitor the comments of random strangers.

      But a bigger issue is that quite a few of my email group, including my own sons, are loyal readers, but they get the blog by RSS feed and therefore 1) don’t have an easy way to comment and 2) don’t see the comments of others.

      But I am not sure I care, directly: I am having fun again just writing about what I want, and not worrying too much who is reading. I’m glad that you are, though!

      • Ah, so you are using the ping-o-matic or something to advertise each new post, I assume, which consequently advertises to the spammers as well. I used to get the RSS feed and I think I had to have 2, one for the blog posts and one for the comments. I’ll probably get back to RSS, I just have to clean up my RSS subscriptions.

        I’m glad you are having fun again. I think this is a great blog and I think your traffic will grow. I don’t think the RSS reads show up on your traffic reports, so whatever traffic you are seeing is outside of your RSS followers.

        Keep up the great work!!

        Let’s go METS!!

        • I don’t get THAT much spam, but I suspect that the fact that the comments don’t show up discourages the spammers. At this point I would worry about just allowing anyone to post – I know that FanGraphs has a full-time person to just remove offensive and spam postings, as they sometimes appear but if you refresh they are gone. They are pretty quick.

          Anyway, I am enjoying myself again, like I did with the email group, and frankly there wasn’t THAT much feedback in that group, either – from time to time we’d get a long thread, but mostly not.

          Keep in touch. And good luck to the Mets, until the day they actually threaten the Phillies. I’d be happy to see them overtake Atlanta.

  2. They clearly have a better sign stealing system during the day! They are concerned about the Jays only because they have mastered the technique themselves :)

    • Possible! Note that since I wrote that piece, the Yankees have won two straight, both under the sun, and are now 28-5 in day games, 27-31 in night games. (Usually, such trends stop as soon as you notice them!).

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