After 7 games, the Atlanta Braves are tied in wins for the division lead at 5, they've scored the most runs in all of MLB, and they are outpacing the next closest offense by 1 run per game! There's about 5 things in that sentence I never thought I'd type out into this blogging machine this year.
Yet, after almost a week of play, this team has already surprised many including myself. I jokingly tweeted a few days ago, "Braves are going to the playoffs!" But is it really a joke? Have teams that started this hot and ended up in first place of offensive output in the first week really continued to soar? Or does it fall into the saber-cats favorite colloquialism, the SSS - Small Sample Size?
To answer the question, I looked at the last 10 years of statistics, because honestly anything further back than 2008 doesn't warrant discussion to me. Those stats are horrifically tainted and always will be. Once league-wide testing and rules went in, and were fully adopted and followed, that's when you can really see the changes on the offensive game. Also I used 2008 as my marker because it's the year after the worst alleged cheater in history (Barry Bonds) retired in what should have been disgrace. Seriously, that guy is a loser and to see people continue to back him as a HOF candidate is shameful.
Anyway, let's look at the numbers. The Atlanta Braves through 7 games are averaging 8 runs a game. Does that number mean anything?
In 2008, after 7 games, the Braves were tied with the Brewers at 6.67 runs per game for best in the majors. The Brewers made the playoffs, and the Braves didn't going 72-90. Why? Well a lot of reasons, but this was during the year of the infamous Mark Teixeira trade and the year Skip Caray died.
In 2009, after 7 games, Toronto and Miami (then Florida) were tied at 7 runs a game. Neither made the playoffs. However, Florida had a respectable 87 wins, but Toronto finished 75-87.
In 2010, after 7 games, the Phillies were in the lead with 7.17 runs a game. They had 97 wins and went to the playoffs, only to lose in the NLCS
In 2011, after 7 games, the Reds and the ChiSox were tied for 7.5 runs a game. Neither made the playoffs, and both finished with 79 wins.
In 2012, after 7 games, Detroit was in the lead with 6.67 runs a game. They went to the World Series and lost to the Giants, also winning 88 games in the regular season.
In 2013, after 7 games, Colorado was in the lead with 6.5 runs a game. They didn't make the playoffs and had 74 wins.
In 2014, after 7 games, the Marlins were in the lead with 6.67 runs a game. They didn't make the playoffs and had 77 wins.
In 2015, after 7 games, Detroit was in the lead with 7.83 runs a game. They didn't make the playoffs and had 74 wins.
In 2016, after 7 games, the Cubs and Yankees were tied at 7 runs a game. The Cubs won the world series. The Yankees didn't make the playoffs with 84 wins.
In 2017, after 7 games, Arizona was in the lead with 7.5 runs a game. They made the playoffs only to lose in the NLCS, and also won 93 games.
So to recap, here's what happens when you're in the run lead after 7 games:
- 1 World Series Champion
- 4 other playoff teams
- 9 teams didn't make the playoffs
So with 14 teams in 10 years, and 5 of them making the playoffs, I think it's a better than 1/3 chance those teams would make the playoffs in the last 10 years. Not terrible for simply starting strong. But let's dig further?
Of the 14 teams, only 11 had 5 wins or more. Those 11 still include all the teams that made the playoffs. That increases our percentage to almost 50% when you take into account teams that lead in runs and had 5 wins or more.
So does it matter? We'll see, but I like the idea of the playoffs essentially being a coin-flip on a hot start. And will the Braves make the playoffs? I still have massive concerns about the pitching, but the offense looks like it's figuring a few things out.