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Preview, #29: 4/28 vs. Cubs

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The rubber game against the Northsiders, after a blowout win in each direction.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

CUBS DIAMONDBACKS
Daniel Descalso - 2B Adam Jones - RF
Kris Bryant - RF Ketel Marte - CF
Anthony Rizzo - 1B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Javier Baez - SS David Peralta - LF
David Bote - 3B Christian Walker - 1B
Jason Heyward - CF Wilmer Flores - 2B
Willson Contreras - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Kyle Schwarber - LF Carson Kelly - C
Jose Quintana - LHP Luke Weaver - RHP

Yesterday was the first blow-out loss (5 or more runs) for the Diamondbacks since the opening weekend at Dodger Stadium, when the losses included thumpings by scores of 12-5 and 18-5. I was curious to see if the sheer number of blowout losses reflects the quality of a team, so looked at how many of them Arizona has had each season. Of course, there’s some automatic selection there: better teams will have fewer losses to begin with. But even if you look at percentage of losses that are blowouts, there’s some correlation. Below, is a chart plotting the number of D-backs losses in a year, against the percentage of those defeats which were by more than five runs.

It does appear that bad teams don’t just lose more, they tend to get blown-out more often (the statistical correlation between losses and blowout losses was 0.45). The worst team in Arizona history, the 2004 Diamondbacks lost no fewer than 37 times by five runs or more - still the absolute record-holder. At the other end, the 1999 D-backs - arguably the “best” ever team, being the only one ever to win a hundred regular-season games - suffered only nine blowout losses, the lowest number both in percentage terms and by absolute numbers. But in between, there are some discrepancies. The highest blue dot of all is the 2005 team, who weren’t terrible (77-85), but got blown out in more than 40% of their losses.

Probably the most interesting though, is the next highest percentage. That belongs to the 2007 team, who were a league-best 90-72, but who still lost 26 times in blowouts, about fifty percent more often than the trend-line would expect, given their number of defeats. This was, of course, the team which won the division despite being outscored over the course of the season (and it wasn’t even close, with a run differential of -20). They countered those losses, with a stellar 32-20 record in games decided by one run. So far, the 2019 D-backs are on pace for a 93-69 record and 17 blowout losses, which is about what would be expected. Nights like last night are going to happen again, that’s for sure.