I accidentally left my car radio on 620 WDAE when I got home last night and had the unfortunate experience of listening to 30 seconds of Dan Sileo this morning on my way to work.
During that brief, but painful, moment, I heard Sileo make the following argument (I am paraphrasing): “This team [the 2010 Rays] is so frustrating because their offense is inconsistent. The 2008 team was much more consistent offensively.”
Through 138 games, the 2010 Rays are on pace to score 813 runs and allow 646 runs for a differential of +167. (The third number — run differential — is the only real measure that is relevant to overall success). A total of 813 runs would be 39 runs better than the 2008 Rays and 10 runs better than the 2009 Rays. More importantly, a run differential of +167 is 64 runs better than the 2008 Rays’ differential of +103 (and blows the 2009 Rays +10 differential out of the water).
But totals don’t tell the whole story. Sileo’s argument, I think, is that the 2008 Rays were better suited for postseason play because they produced the same kind of offensive results on a consistent basis while the 2010 Rays are prone to hot streaks (which would be great if one coincided with a playoff week) and cold streaks (which would be disastrous in a similar scenario).
The Rays have scored 5 or more runs 71 times this season and 10+ runs 13 times. They followed 37 of the 71 5+ run games with another 5+ run game (52%) and followed 20 of the 71 5+ run games by scoring 2 or fewer runs (28%). In fact, the Rays have only been held to 2 or fewer runs 31 times and followed 15 of those poor offensive showings with a 5+ run outburst (48%).
What does that mean? It means the Rays are a good offensive team that become a great offensive team when they get hot. If you see a 5+ run outburst sometime in October, there is a very good chance another performance is right around the corner in the next game. And, it also means that if the Rays hang up a low number, there is nearly a 50% chance they will bounce back with a big night.
In the end, teams with good pitching and defense put up good run differential numbers. The 2008 Rays proved that point going from worst-to-World Series behind a +103 run differential. What can the 2010 Rays do if they are 64 runs better than the 2008 team?