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The Wonder of Positive Streaks

More wonderful than losing streaks.

Carson Kelly hit a homer during the second batting streak.
Carson Kelly hit a homer during the second batting streak.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This season, much was written about losing streaks: 13 & 17 consecutive-game losing streaks, a 24 road-game losing streak, and a 15 consecutive-series losing streak. I tip my hat to Jim McLennan for pointing out that the latest 45 times that the Diamondbacks failed to score 5 runs (a taco-less game), they lost. These streaks added a sense of wonder to negativity. Enough! Positive streaks are more wonderful! The hard part was finding them, but they were found!

This season, there were 5 positive streaks during which the Diamondbacks had more success. The two types of positive streaks were:

  • Batting streaks of at least 5 consecutive games with at least 3 runs scored.
  • Pitching streaks of at least 5 consecutive games with less than 7 allowed runs.

Scoring 3 runs per game seems so modest. Yet it was very powerful; 14 of 22 wins happened during the batting streaks (through 30 June). My view is the benefit of scoring 3 or 4 runs was the Diamondbacks knew they could win next game despite losing the game. During the batting streaks they won 54% of their games and outside the batting streaks they won 14% of their games through 30 June.

The pitching streaks were less powerful, but nevertheless important. During the pitching streaks they won 43% of their games. Two thirds of those wins were during a simultaneous batting streak. My view is that the pitching streaks reinforced the positive mental attitudes created by the batting streaks.

When a team allowed 7 runs or more, their odds of winning were low. 1,236 baseball games were played through 3 July. Teams won 63 games when their pitching allowed 7 runs or more (data from Stathead in Baseball Reference).

Let’s look at the batting streaks.

The batting streaks happened April 8-15, April 18 - May 4, and May 26-30.

During the three batting streaks, team averages were better. A comparison to all games from 1 April through 30 June follows (data from FanGraphs):

  • .032 vs .023 HR/PA (home runs per plate appearance)
  • .353 vs .306 OBP (On Base Percentage)
  • .347 vs .297 wOBA (Weighted On Base Percentage)

Three batters were superstars during two of the three batting streaks (meaning they exceeded my All-Star demarcations of .038 HR/PA, .340 OBP, and .345 wOBA:

  • Carson Kelly: In the first two streaks, he hit 6 homers in 65 PAs. A starting catcher who hits this well is uncommon and very valuable. For the season through 30 June, he exceeded my All-Star demarcations for HR/PA, OBP, and wOBA.
  • Stephen Vogt: His 22 PAs in the second/third batting streaks were very productive. He was the right batter at the right time. His performance was significantly better than for the season.
  • Andrew Young: His 13 total PAs during the first two batting streaks were just as productive as his 44 PAs for the season. For the season through 30 June, he exceeded my All-Star demarcations for HR/PA, OBP, and wOBA.

Four batters exceeded my All-Star demarcations for HR/PA, OBP, and wOBA in one of the three streaks:

  • Josh Rojas: For the season through 30 June, he was within shouting distance of the All-Star demarcations for HR/PA, OBP, and wOBA. He was almost in the superstar group; he was 1 homer short.
  • Eduardo Escobar: During the first streak, batters hit 11 homers; 5 of those 11 were hit by Escobar. Although he hit 11 homers outside the batting streaks, only 1 addition homer happened during the next two streaks.
  • Pavin Smith: His batting in 17 PAs during the first streak was better than for the season through 30 June.
  • Kole Calhoun: A hamstring injury prevented him from having PAs during the third streak.
  • Honorable mention goes to Ketel Marte, who was on the IL during the first two batting streaks. In the third streak he exceeded the criteria for HR/PA and OBP. However, his wOBA was .340, which was a hair’s width short of the .345 demarcation.

Let’s look at the pitching streaks.

The pitching streaks happened April 15-21, and May 4-13. The overall ERA was lower (3.88 ERA and 4.22 ERA) compared to all games through 30 June (4.79 ERA) (data from FanGraphs).

During the two pitching streaks the bullpen was better. Here’s why: 42.9% of official saves through 30 June happened in 17.1% of games played. Those 17.1% of games were the two pitching streaks.

During the two pitching streaks three starting pitchers were outstanding (data from Baseball Reference):

  • Madison Bumgarner pitched 3 stellar games: Bumgarner allowed 2 ERs in 18 IP.
  • Zac Gallen pitched 2 great games: Gallen allowed 4 ERs in 11.2 IP.
  • Taylor Widener allowed zero ERs in 6 IP.

Positive streaks are more wonderful.

The Diamondbacks experienced more success during three batting streaks and two pitching streaks. Positive streaks were wonderful.

When the Diamondbacks were on a positive streak, there was a lot to cheer for! Winning percentages were higher, several batters hit at All-Star levels, and several pitchers were stellar.