Monday, June 19, 2006

Jack Go Under Limbo Stick

If you're not a math person, turn away from your screen. I was thinking about Papelbon's miniscule ERA, as I do 23 hours out of every day, and I came up with this question: What's the lowest a non-zero ERA has ever been at any point in a season? In other words, what are the most innings a pitcher has thrown while only giving up one earned run? (Or two runs, but then the innings would have to double, or three and triple the innings, and then it starts to spiral out of control.)

I guess you could just find out who had the longest scoreless streak to start a season, and then calculate his or her ERA after they gave up their first run. But then again, it could be someone who gave up the one run in the middle of a long period where he or she gave up no other runs.

If you give up a run in nine innings, you're ERA is 1.00. A run in 18, 0.50. 1 in 36, 0.25. (Which is near where Pap is now.) What kills you is giving up just one more run. 2 in 37, and you're right back up near 0.50, and you'd have to do 35 more scoreless just to get back to 0.25. I'm just wondering if we've ever seen anything under a 0.20. Or a 0.15. You'd have to pitch 90 innings and only give up one run to see 0.10.

Is Papelbon getting close to the all-time record? You know, not including ERA's of 0.00. But I think he should get some kind of credit for that. And you could say if he goes more innings while only giving up one run than the guy or chick who threw the most innings to start a season without giving up any runs, then he gets some credit for that, too. Then again, he's not really bettering that person, because according to the average (that's what we're takling about, Earned Run Average), they would've pitched to infinity without giving up a run.

In Orel Hershiser's 60-odd inning scoreless streak, he would've gone from 0.00 to 0.16-ish, I think, had he given up the run in the sixtieth inning--counting his ERA only from the beginning of the streak, but his streak was at the end of the year, as I remember the baseball card that said "59 and counting."

Feel free to help me answer this question. Step it up, fellow nerds. But the more important question is: How low can Pap go? (But the answer to that is: infinitely closer and closer to zero without ever reaching it. I just meant, how low will he go?)

Today's Herald had exactly what you wrote, but it was only one sentence. From now on, to get any lower, he will have to be perfection. But that's what we're used to. I was hoping we'd see him 3 times in 3 games in Atlanta. And we did. Nice, huh. Or as you say, good job.
//I was thinking about Papelbon's miniscule ERA, as I do 23 hours out of every day//

What a beautiful place your mind must be. I expect a mind filled with that sort of rumination is something like what a Buddhist monk in a state of meditative nirvana would experience.
Considering that Buddhists meditate in the hope of achieving "emptiness", it would seem appropriate to contemplate Papelbon's ERA.
I would also like to find out how many times in the past something "miniscule" has also been so studly.

*rim shot*

i vill be heer all ze veek.
Tom Keefe with the 1880 Troy Trojans made 12 starts, pitched 12 complete games, 105 innings and finished with an ERA of .857, the lowest w/ at least 100 IP. He allowed 27 runs, only 10 earned, which speaks to the defense of the day.
However, Retrosheet can't provide box scores, only final scores, so it's impossible to differentiate when the earned runs occured during his 12 games. But for the sake of arugument, .857 is pretty damn low, especially considering that he averaged MORE than 9 IP/start, whereas Pap is averaging just a hair over an inning/appearance.
Wow, good job. Except for your math on innings per start. More like just under 9 per.

I'm glad I finally got an answer on this. I would like to figure out how low it got after he gave up his first earned run that year.

6-6 record that year, ouch! Made up for it by gong 41-27 a few years later. And Tim, not Tom.
You try century old statistical analysis while a 16-month-old with the energy of a splitting atom runs circles around you...
My mistake.

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