Mission ’13: Death Rays and Other Irritants

Game three of the TOR-TBR series was a good one. The starters, Todd Redmond and Chris Archer, pitched exceptionally well, yielding only one run each.  A 1st-inning homer by Evan Longoria was matched by Edwin Encarnacion’s 7th-inning chicken wing. Longoria’s homer was a beaut, but there was some controversy; Edwin hit a mistake pitch by Chris Archer. If you missed this game, do what you can to see a replay of it somewhere, somehow.

One comment by Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler caught my attention. Providentially they made the same comment several times, so I was sure I hadn’t misheard it. The comment was that ‘these teams always play good games against each other; there aren’t any blowouts’. Aside from Tampa dominating the series since 2009, when they finally became a good team, I wasn’t sure what they meant. You know how people are: give them enough time and JP Arencibia will be a shoo-in for Cooperstown. I was reasonably sure that Buck and Pat were ‘mis-remembering’, but I wasn’t positive. That being the case, said I, let’s check.

I keep my laptop in front of me while I follow a game. I don’t know why commentators don’t do it—it’s a great way to check things out between innings, on the fly, or whatever as the game progresses. Anyways, I’m pretty sure that Buck and Tabby don’t do it. So while the Jays and Rays headed into extras in what has been a good series I did some digging.

In 2009, years of futility gave way to an excellent season by the re-christened Rays. It’s as if the name change from Devil Rays to Rays signified a change in franchise fortunes. Joe Maddon was entering his 3rd season as manager, his first 2 seasons having been forgettable. For the most part, the Rays have maintained the level of success they enjoyed in ’09. The Jays, even though they have declined steadily since 2010, have made significant changes on a regular basis that should have put them in the mix. The 2009 season, therefore, became my cut-off point for looking into the head-to-head records.

Including today’s game—Jose Lobaton just hit a walk-off homer against Brad Lincoln in the bottom of the 10th inning—these teams have played each other 88 times since the start of 2009. Tampa has won 60 of those 88 games (.682). That gives us an average head-to-head record of 12-6 in favour of the Rays. The disparity by itself suggests very strongly that blowouts have played a significant role in this match-up. Here’s their head-to-head record since ’09, keeping in mind that this season isn’t finished yet:

Season

Team Wins

Tampa Bay

Toronto

2009

14

4

2010

10

8

2011

12

6

2012

14

4

2013

10

6

Total

60

28

The next problem was how to define the somewhat amorphous term ‘blowout’. I’ve seen a 5-run differential used but I thought a 4-run differential would define our parameters adequately. This isn’t pretty. If you’re a Jays’ fan, you might want to grab some Gravol® or a bucket. Here it is, in all its glory:

Season

Blow out wins by team

Tampa Bay

Toronto

2009

5

2

2010

5

2

2011

4

2

2012

7

2

2013

2

1

Total

23

9

Armed with this information, what am I supposed to think? Since 2009, the Rays and Jays have played each other 88 times and Tampa has won 60 of those contests, leaving the Jays with 28 wins. 32 of those 88 games (36.4%) have been decided by 4 runs or more and several of them have been real laughers for one team or the other. The Rays have blown out the Jays in 23 or their 60 wins, or 38.3% of the time. That’s slightly more often than 3 times every 8 wins, on average. Conversely, the Jays have blown out the Rays 9 times in their 28 wins, or 32.1% of the time. But look at 2012: there were 9 blowouts in 18 games. In other words, half the games were decided by 4 runs or more.  This happened last season, not last century.

This series isn’t “close” in any sense of the meaning. It’s not close geographically. It’s not close historically.  It’s not close financially. It’s not close competitively. When the Rays and the Jays play one another, there’s a really good chance that Tampa will not only win the series, but they’ll blow the Jays out at least once while doing so.

Consider this: in this terribly-lopsided series, where one team wins more than 68% of the time, the dominant team has outscored the subordinate team 460-310. The Rays score an average of 5.23 runs to the Jays’ 3.52 runs. The run differential almost equals half of my somewhat-arbitrary 4-run differential for a blowout.

Maybe Buck and Tabby were simply referring to 2013. After all there have only been 3 blowouts in 2013 with only 2 games remaining against each other this season. Otherwise they need to brush up on their series facts. If the Rays and Jays played each other 162 times, the Rays would win 110 games. That’s how completely they dominate the Jays. This match-up is the exact opposite of what they said: it’s neither good nor close.

Wes Kepstro

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5 Responses to “Mission ’13: Death Rays and Other Irritants”


  1. 1 Idiot Fan August 19, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I remember when the tide turned in 2009. You could feel the Rays slowly building something under Friedman and company. The Jays were supposed to the Rays + $$ but have fallen flat in the draft/development game IMO

    • 2 Wes Kepstro August 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Not only draft/development but player acquisition, as well. A review of the deals made by AA to date isn’t very inspiring.

      Maybe you can help me, IF. Why do some players succeed, come to the Jays and suck bilge, then go elsewhere and succeed again? Or, why do players seem to play so poorly here and so well elsewhere? I can think of a number of player who fit those categories within the last 3+ seasons.

      • 3 @ALEastbound August 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        I think part of it is players come to Toronto thinking they can breathe, take a bit of a break from the tougher markets. Then they get hit like a ton of bricks when they realize there is more media scrutiny in Toronto than almost any other market.

        Just a theory, perhaps a weak one.

  2. 4 NB August 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    What a great read. I had a feeling there weren’t many close ones. I.just shake my head that Pat and Buck either don’t check or don’t care to give factual info.

    • 5 Wes Kepstro August 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      I think we all have a ‘feeling’ or ‘sense’ that it’s bad. i just don’t think we realize how bad it really is. Buck and Tabby spreading misinformation isn’t helpful.

      Until the Jays can play with teams like the Rays, I fear that they’re likely to remain a ‘second division team’ (to borrow the old-time designation).


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