Everyone does it.
You know, looking back at the past and trying to figure out what could have been?
For the Tampa Bay Rays, the 2011 season looks all but doomed. Despite a recent push to get back in contention for the AL wild card, the Rays look destined to finish in third place, on the outside looking into the playoff picture.
Knowing this, I decided to ask a question.
Where would the Rays be with adequate run support?
First off, I had to decide how to define adequate run support. So I looked at the top ten offenses in baseball in terms of runs scored and averaged their run totals. As of August 26th, that number came out to be 625.7 runs.
When divided by the 129 games the Rays have played, I came up with an average of 4.85 runs per game. You can compare that to their actual output of 4.22 runs per game. Of course, if I were not to round these numbers, this article would be extremely pointless. So let's just do this—for these purposes, I will assume that currently the Rays average four runs per game, and for this investigation, they will score five runs per game.
Here's the process. I'm going to go through every game the Rays have played so far and change the number of runs the Rays score to five. The other team's runs will remain unchanged. Each game will be marked as a win or a loss. This is the most basic level of analysis. As an additional note, if my tinkering results in a tie (a 5-5 game), I will count that separately and divide the results evenly between wins and losses.
|Actual||With 5 RPG|
|Standings||3rd; 9.5 GB||1st; 6.5 ahead|
Now, when you look at the Rays' potential record with five runs per game, one phrase comes to mind—no freakin' way. And you're probably right. That record puts the Rays on par with some of the best teams in baseball history.
So let's find a middle ground. I'll take the average of the two figures. Using that, we come up with a record of 78-51.
Amazingly, that keeps the Rays in third place. However, they would only be one half of a game behind the Yankees for the AL wild card spot. They would be leading every division in baseball except for the AL and NL East.
I'm not going to go into the reasons for the Rays' offensive struggles in this article. That is something that can be reflected upon after the season. It is clear that the team's plate discipline and approach with men in scoring position have dramatically affected its offensive output.
But for now, I leave you with this thought of what could have been. With just five runs per game, the Rays could be knocking at the door of the Yankees. With five runs per game, the final 33 games of the season would be incredibly exciting.
With five runs per game, there would be hope.