Ike Davis versus Alfonso Soriano and a better alternative to OPS

jpsportstats MLB Ike Davis Alfonso Soriano alternative to OPS
If I pose the question “Since the All-Star break, who has been more productive for his team, Ike Davis with the New York Mets, or Alfonso Soriano with the New York Yankees?” the answer would be fairly obvious, right? Unless you are a Yankees hater or an obstinate Mets fan, one has to go with Alfonso Soriano.

To be fair, Ike Davis has done a better job at the plate since his return from Las Vegas in early July. The demotion to Triple-A a month earlier was prompted by a dreadfully low .161 Batting Average and an equally meager.500 On-Base Plus Slugging.

This is the second consecutive season in which Davis got off to a very slow start, but at least last year he showed signs of power and production even before he turned it around with 20 home runs in the second half of 2012. See the comparison below. Further explanation of the new stats in blue font will be provided later.

[Click on stats to view enlarged image in new window.]
jpsportstats MLB pre All-Star Mets Ike Davis 2012 vs. 2013

Just about everyone following Major League Baseball knows about Alfonso Soriano’s prolific four-game stretch in which he tied a MLB record with 18 RBI. For a fair evaluation, in terms of plate appearances, I looked at Soriano’s time with the Yankees to date (he has 122 PA from July 26th through August 26th) and compared it with Davis’s stats following the All-Star (he has 123 PA from July 19th through August 25th). It should be noted Alfonso Soriano was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Yankees after he had played five games with his former team to start the second half of the season.

Unlike many baseball pundits who reference OPS—a stat combining On-Base Percentage (hitter’s ability to get on base) with Slugging Percentage (hitter’s power)—as a gold standard for offensive credibility in the era of sabermetrics, I prefer a more comprehensive statistic referred to as Total Offensive Productions or TOP.

[Note: Next paragraph gets nerdy with an explanation of new stats. For those who delve into baseball statistics or sabermetrics, there is a good chance you will appreciate this.]

The stat I created and use for analyzing Total Offensive Production is based on Total Accumulative Bases or TAB plus runs scored and runs batted in divided by plate appearances. TAB includes all total bases a batter slugs, the bases a hitter earns via walk (base on balls) and hit by pitch, and the Adjusted Stolen Bases or ASB accredited to a base runner. Adjusted Stolen Bases takes into account base stealing percentage by partially discrediting swipes when the base runner gets thrown out in an attempt to steal a base. The formula for ASB is stolen bases squared divided by the sum of stolen bases plus caught stealing.

The stats below illustrate the greater productivity of Alfonso Soriano, during the aforementioned time frame, in comparison with Ike Davis. Davis has drawn 24 more BB in about the same PA and has hit for a higher batting AVG than Soriano, contributing to a significantly better OBP and OPS. However, Soriano has 13 more TB and twice as many RS and RBI combined (50 to Davis’s 25). This is why Soriano has a much higher TOP than Davis, despite a considerably lower OPS.

[Click on stats to view enlarged image in new window.]
jpsportstats MLB post All-Star Mets Ike Davis vs. Yankees Alfonso Soriano

On-Base Pct. and Slugging Pct. each has its merits in evaluating a hitter’s ability to get on base and to hit for power; however, Total Offensive Production is a better alternative than OPS when it comes to evaluating a player’s overall contribution to a team’s offense.

Data Source:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Information Sources:
http://baseball.about.com/od/termstatglossar1/a/sabermetrics.htm
http://www-math.bgsu.edu/~albert/papers/saber.html
http://sabr.org/sabermetrics

Please leave a comment and share the post with other sports and stats fans. Followers, tweets and RT @jpsportstats are welcome! For more information regarding my blog, the stats I derived and shared in this post, feel free to leave a comment at the end of the post or send your questions via the Submit page. Thanks.

Charlie Manuel deserves better

jpsportstats MLB Charlie Manuel Phillies manager

As a long-time New York Mets fan, I have been conditioned to display disdain towards teams competing in the same division. The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams in the NL East that I root against. My contempt for the Phillies reached a new high after the 2008 season: not because Philadelphia took advantage of a Mets’ collapse down the stretch in 2007 and 2008; it was because Cole Hamels, Phillies starter and their ace in 2007 and 2008, called the Mets “choke artists”.

Hamels was not necessarily wrong in referring to the Mets as chokers—in fairness he was answering a loaded question posed to him on WFAN, a New York sports radio talk station. It was the effusive smugness in his comments which rubbed me the wrong way. Hamels’ criticism of the Metropolitans was harder to take and dismiss because he backed up his arrogance with a stellar 2008 postseason performance, meriting the NLCS and World Series MVP award, and a World Series ring.

A year earlier before the start of the 2007 season, Phillies veteran shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, provoked Mets fans and Mets players when he said Philadelphia was the team to beat. His bold statement and not-so subtle swipe at the Mets was prophetic, and disheartening to Mets fans who watched their team squander a 7-game lead to the Phillies with 17 games left. Rollins played a significant role in the Phillies’ success that year, which earned him the NL MVP award.

Notwithstanding my dislike for the Phils, I was quietly impressed with the way Philadelphia collectively shifted into a higher gear following the All-Star break to finish the season strong.  Phillies’ display of second half dominance coincided with the move to bring in Charlie Manuel as their manager in 2005.

During Manuel’s tenure with the Phillies, his team compiled a better record in the second half of each season from 2005 to 2012.  Philadelphia won their division five years in a row from 2007 to 2011, and they made it to the Fall Classic in consecutive seasons, 2008 and 2009, winning a World Series title in 2008.

Here is Charlie Manuel’s aggregate track record with the Phillies from 2005 to 2012. [Click on stats to view enlarged image in new window.]

jpsportstats MLB Charlie Manuel manager record Philadelphia Phillies

Charlie Manuel also managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000 until the All-Star break in 2002. During his short stint as the skipper, Manuel navigated Cleveland to the top of the AL Central in 2001. In two full seasons as the Indians’ clubhouse chief, his team won a greater percentage of games after the All-Star break. Since his dismissal in 2002, Cleveland has just one division title. The Indians have finished with more wins than losses only twice in the last 11 years.

The success and failure of a team does not rest solely on the leadership and decision-making of a manager.  Although there is something to be said about the influence of a manager, his coaching staff and the organization’s executive strategists when a team plays inconsistent for more than a decades as have the Indians, following the departure of Manuel.

While Manuel was at the helm in Philadelphia, Phillies record had improved the subsequent year for five straight seasons. Phillies best all-around regular season was in 2011 when they finished with a 102-60 record. Given the precipitous decline of the Phillies from 102 wins in 2011 to 81 wins last year, and another subpar start this year, it was a forgone conclusion that Manuel would finish out 2013 as a lameduck manager.

After beating the Mets 13-8 to start the second half of this season, Philadelphia was 49-48 and in 2nd place, 6 ½ games back from the division-leading Atlanta Braves. Since that win in Citi Field on July 19th, Phillies have lost 19 of 23 games. Then Friday afternoon,  August 16th, Phillies’ General Manager,  Ruben Amaro Jr., let Manuel go and gave the reigns of the clubhouse to Ryne Sandberg.

The expression “What have you done for me lately?” comes to mind. Phillies MLB title in 2008 is as distant as their previous WS title in 1980, or so it would seem the way the organization reacted in firing Manuel with 42 games to go.

Charlie Manuel’s body of work includes six postseasons; his teams have compiled a better second half winning percentage in 9 of his 10 full seasons as a manager. His career winning percentage translates to 89 victories in a full season.

Here is a look at Manuel’s year-by-year splits and totals with Cleveland and Philadelphia. [Click on stats to view enlarged image in new window.]

jpsportstats MLB Charlie Manuel manager record Cleveland Indians Philadelphia Phillies

What will become of an aging Phillies’ ballclub with a farm system that is not exactly bursting with young talent? Only time will tell. The Phillies’ front office could have handled the managerial transition with more class and grace by letting Charlie Manuel finish out the season. Had it been handled the right way, the players and the fans could have properly said goodbye and thank you to a manager who deserved better.

Data Source:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Article Sources:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3763415

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9574746/the-firing-phillies-manager-charlie-manuel

Please leave a comment and share the post with other sports and stats fans. Followers, tweets and RT @jpsportstats are welcome! For more information regarding my blog, the stats I derived and shared in this post, feel free to leave a comment at the end of the post or send your questions via the Submit page. Thanks.

Matt Harvey versus other young phenoms

jpsportstats MLB Matt Harvey vs Dwight Gooden Stephen Strasburg Mike Mussina Tom Seaver

Matt Harvey threw his first complete game shutout of his young career on August 7th at Citi Field as the New York Mets beat the reeling Colorado Rockies 5-0.  Those who have been following Harvey’s trajectory to stardom in Major League Baseball know he has had a more dominant performance early this year: on May 7th he hurled 9 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, no walks, while striking out 12 in a no decision versus the Minnesota Twins.

This Mets flame thrower subdued the Colorado hitters in a more modest display of dominance Wednesday night:  “The Dark Knight of Gotham” faced 30 batters, struck out six, surrendered four singles, walked none, and induced a career high 14 ground ball outs, including a double play.

It is the seventh time the Mets young ace has gone at least 7 innings without walking a batter. As a rookie, Harvey allowed 26 batters on base via the walk in 59.1 innings pitched. In spite of it being his sophomore season, he has walked only 29 hitters in 159.2 innings pitched—just three more base on balls in 100.1 extra IP in comparison to last year. That is a pace of 1.63 base on balls per 9 innings pitched, 4th best in the National League, to accompany his league’s highest SO per 9 IP (10.03).

The “Real Deal” was economical in disposing of the Rockies as he threw 78 of 106 pitches for strikes, tying his best ratio of strikes to pitch count in 33 career starts. The previous time Matt Harvey threw 78 strikes and 28 balls, on May 17th at Wrigley Field, it required a greater deal of effort to get 22 outs (7.1 IP).

Harvey is a top contender for the National League’s Cy Young Award along with the ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw. Currently, the Mets young pitcher leads the league with 178 strikeouts and a very low 0.86 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP). He also leads all MLB starters with an exceptional ratio of 1.30 strikeouts per hits plus walks. Despite missing a start before the All-Star break, Harvey is third in innings pitched. He also has the third fewest hits per 9 IP with 6.09.

Now that Harvey has amassed enough career starts for a full season, let’s see where he stacks up against other young phenoms who got off to blazing starts through their first 33 pitching performances.  Being a member of the New York Metropolitans, Harvey has been likened to Tom Seaver and to Dwight Gooden, so it’s a given to include them in the comparison.

In terms of rising stars, only Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals closely mirrors the dominance of Harvey with regards to his mastery of power and finesse at such an early stage in his career.  Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, who won Rookie of the Year in 2006 and the Cy Young Award in 2011, does not come close to the numbers put up by Harvey through his first 33 starts. Neither does Tim Lincecum, who won consecutive Cy Young Awards in 2008 (his sophomore year) and 2009 (his third season) for the San Francisco Giants.

Mike Mussina was an accomplished pitcher who started his career with the Baltimore Orioles and had similar stats in his first two seasons as Matt Harvey, except with far fewer strikeouts. Mussina’s pinpoint control and consistency earned him 270 career wins. I included the “Moose” together with “Doc” Gooden, “Tom Terrific” and Stephen Strasburg in comparing their stats to Matt Harvey after each of their first 33 career starts.  This select group is ranked by a Pitching Performance Score (PPS) I derived to evaluate starters and relievers. The calculations for standard MLB stats and my @JPsportstats are provided in the notes below the numbers.

Highlighted in yellow are the best stats among these pitchers over their first 33 starts. [Note: Seaver’s relief appearance after his 25th start in ’67 was omitted.]

Harvey topped the group in five statistical categories, including ERA, IPHW (reciprocal of WHIP) and PPS (explained below). Gooden led in four categories, highlighted by four shutouts and an impressive 292 SO. Like Harvey, Strasburg led in five areas, which includes win percentage (not as noteworthy as other categories since it is, in part, a reflection of run support).

*Heads up…Next paragraph is nerdy but worth covering…it’s just three sentences*

[Strasburg edged out Harvey (1.122 to 1.120) in a key category referred to as DOminant Coefficient or DOC: it is a weighted combination of SO per IP (25%), SO per H + W (25%), and IP per H + W (50%). Another important statistic is Cumulative earned Run Average or CRA: it is referred to as DERIP and fully explained in the post from July 1, 2011 titled Closers: Comparison of Different Eras and ERAs. Pitching Performance Score or PPS is a product of DOC * CRA.]

Mussina and Seaver led in two categories and were tied with the most innings pitched (242.2). What is really impressive about Mussina is that he did so with 11 fewer complete games than Seaver.

As the stats clearly illustrate, Matt Harvey is in exceptional company. He has already exceeded early expectations set by the Mets organization, and by Mets fans like me. Harvey appears to be unperturbed by the spotlight of the Big Apple. He is the quintessential competitor: a bulldog with talent, purpose and the intent to win every time he takes to the mound. The future is looking bright for the rising star and for the New York Metropolitans.

[Click on stats to view enlarged image in new window.]

jpsportstats MLB Stats Matt Harvey Dwight Gooden Stephen Strasburg Mike Mussina Tom Seaver

Data Source(s):

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Please leave a comment and share the post with other sports and stats fans. Followers, tweets and RT @jpsportstats are welcome! For more information regarding my blog, the stats I derived and shared in this post (i.e. DOC, DEP, PPS), feel free to leave a comment at the end of the post or send your questions via the Submit page. Thanks.

Mets and Nationals: What a difference a game makes

jpsportstats mlb 2013 mets natsThe New York Mets‘ successful trend, prior to the series against the Washington Nationals, has been duly noted and analyzed by the folks at SNY and WFAN. This season’s turning point for the Metropolitans started with their 4-3 dramatic win versus the Cubs at Citi Field on Sunday, June 16th. Kirk Nieuwenhuis’s 3-run walk-off homer six Sundays ago, helped pull the Mets out of a two-month funk and into a winning clip at or above .600 right up into the All-Star break.

The New York Mets continued to play well as they started the second half with a 7-game home stand, taking two of three from the Phillies and splitting a 4-game series against the division leaders—a greater symbolic accomplishment than the 4-3 record given the Mets were 10 games below .500 at Citi Field before the break.  Then the Metropolitans headed to Washington DC for a 4-game series with another divisional foe. The series started fortuitously for the team from Queens as they thumped Nationals All-Star pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, in route to a lopsided 11-0 win in game 1 of a day-night doubleheader.

New York had compiled a 22-14 record over their last 36 games, including the first game victory at Nationals Park. Here is a breakdown of the Mets record, run production, and their opponent’s run production before and during their .611 winning stretch.

jpsportstats mlb 2013 mets stats

The nightcap of the doubleheader featured Mets young ace and All-Star, Matt Harvey.  Washington countered with Ross Ohlendorf, who was making his second start of the season.  Ohlendorf had a 20-32 record covering six plus seasons, and a 4.92 career ERA prior to this start.  In addition to a matchup favoring New York, the Nationals were mired in a collective slump having lost 12 of their last 15 games—being outscored 71-41 during that span.

Metropolitans were poised to deliver the 1-2 knockout punch and sweep the doubleheader. In doing so, Mets would have pulled into a virtual tie with the Nationals and would have trailed second place by just a ½ game, if the Phillies were to lose Friday night in Detroit (which they did).

Instead, Ross Ohlendorf matched Matt Harvey’s near flawless performance by delivering seven solid innings, allowing just one run while striking out eight. It was a stark contrast watching Ohlendorf seemingly baffle Mets hitters with a max velocity which never approached 90mph, while Harvey overpowered his opponents with a repertoire of heat in the mid to upper 90’s, mixed in with a curveball in the mid 80’s and an occasional changeup.

Mets hitters failed to capitalize in the 7th and 9th innings with runners on 1st and 3rd; there was only one out in the latter scenario. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington’s version of Chipper Jones, came through in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off home run giving his team a split in the doubleheader. The 2-1 win did as much to boost Nationals’ much-needed confidence as it did to derail the Mets’ spirited momentum. New York would lose the next two games in DC by the score of 4-1 and 14-1. After outscoring Washington 12-0 in the first 13 innings of the series; the Mets were outscored 20-2 in the next 23 innings.

Had New York won the nightcap of the doubleheader, the outcome of the next two games would likely have been different: not because the Mets are better than the Nats; these teams were heading in different directions. What a difference a game makes.

Data Source(s):

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

I am a Cancer Survivor

jeff permuy on final day of treatment flanked by 5PW staff at HUMC

My last day at Hackensack University Medical Center with the wonderful nursing staff of 5 Pavilion West

It has been a while since I have posted an article here. My passion for sports and stats has not waned during the hiatus.

Early in 2012, I landed a new job. Later that summer, I was diagnosed with a very rare and highly aggressive type of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  During treatment, I found relief by watching sports and cheering for my favorite teams. (Although as many sports fans know, the drawback is the anxiety of watching close games and the frustration of seeing your team lose.)

I finished my last treatment of chemotherapy in March of 2013.  As I slowly regain my stamina, I find myself right at home analyzing sport stats, and posting tweets @jpsportstats.

I have been creating Major League Baseball stats to evaluate players’ offensive production (and replace OPS) and to measure pitching dominance and calculate a unified pitching score for starters and relievers. I will be writing about these stats and posting it on this blog…stay tuned!

In the meantime, I would like to share a 3-part article on my experience with double-hit lymphoma. It was written after I completed seven grueling months of chemo.  Click here for Part III. There you will find Parts I and II.  Feel free to read the series and share it with others who have battled cancer.

I am a cancer survivor, and it’s good to be back!

Big Blue is the Mood of the Second Half Swoon

In week 13 of the 2002 season New York Giants’ record fell back to 6-6 after suffering a tough overtime loss at home to the Tennessee Titans.  The Eagles won their contest that week extending the NFC East lead to 3 games.  Having already lost earlier in the season to Philadelphia, Giants had no chance of winning their division; their playoff hopes were tenuous at best.  To have any shot at a wild card Big Blue needed to beat their remaining opponents, including three divisional games and a match up on the road against the playoff bound Indianapolis Colts.

The mood was optimistic among Giants fans despite the heartbreaking loss and the challenging road ahead.  Giants proceeded to run the table, beating the Eagles in a thrilling overtime win to end the regular season.  Big Blue earned the wild card and headed to San Francisco as the underdog.  Giants shocked the 49ers early as they trotted off the field at half-time with a 28-14 lead.  G-Men expanded their margin to 38-14 midway through the 3rd quarter.  The commanding lead seemed insurmountable until the collapse occurred.  Giants allowed 25 unanswered points to lose in excruciating fashion 39-38 to the 49ers.

Giants were inconsistent to start the 2003 campaign.  The bitter after taste of the colossal playoff defeat in January was still lingering.  In week 9 G-Men edged out an overtime win against their conference counterpart, the New York Jets, to even their record at 4-4.  Fans expected Giants to start the second half of the season with a home game victory over the 1-7 Atlanta Falcons.  Mark this on the schedule as a win and a 5-4 record for Big Blue I thought.

I was fortunate to get tickets for the Falcons game at the Meadowlands.  The tailgate party was awesome—spirits were high as we entered the stadium for what was supposed to be an easy win against a weak opponent.  Little did I know the humiliating 27-7 home loss would precipitate an 8-game losing streak to end a disappointing season.

In 2004, Giants brought in Tom Coughlin as their new head coach and signed veteran quarterback Kurt Warner to run the offense.  G-Men surprised the pundits and their fans by winning five of their first seven games.  Then inexplicably they lost 8 games in a row for the second time in as many seasons.  Giants lost a share of close games they should have won along the way.  During the early stages of the losing streak Coughlin benched Warner in place of rookie QB Eli Manning.  There were plenty of growing pains in losing his first six games as a starter.  G-Men pulled out a close victory in their last game of the season to stop the bleeding and end the year on a positive note.  It also put an end to a 15-game losing streak in the 2nd half of the season going back to the Atlanta loss in 2003.

The following year Giants won the division, starting a streak of playoff appearances in four consecutive seasons: 2005 to 2008.  The key to their success as I covered in the previous post was a solid running and a stalwart defense, geared to stopping the run.  In 2007 G-Men started off the season 0-2 then won six straight.  Manning and the offense struggled in the second half before gelling late in the season.  Giants carried the momentum into the playoffs on the way to becoming one of the few NFL teams to win four games on the road; including an improbable Super Bowl victory over the unbeaten New England Patriots (they also beat the #1 and #2 seeds in the NFC).

A pattern, which started in 2003, had emerged even during the playoff years.  Giants were 39-25 from 2005 to 2008: 25-7 in the first 8 games; 14-18 in the last 8 games.  It is remarkable to consider since 2003 Giants have lost more games in the second half of the season than in the first half of the season—spanning nine straight years, including the last eight years under Coughlin.

Below is a grid breaking down first half stats versus second half stats since 2003.  The match ups against divisional foes are included as well as a comparison of when Coughlin took over and after Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007.  Number differences in red indicate poorer performance in the last eight games versus the first eight games.

Offensively, Giants’ numbers are noticeably lower in the second half and the turnovers are much higher relative to the first half.  Even in losing, Big Blue have been more competitive in the second half within their division since 2008.  Giants have been trending to a more even split in passing yards.  Conversely, their running attack has been slowing down in the second half since 2004.

Defensively, Giants have performed as poorly in the second half as they have on offense.  However, the second half trend since 2004 illustrates Big Blue has been allowing considerably more yards relative to their lack of offensive yards.  Since 2008 G-Men have done better against the run when facing NFC East teams in the the second half; however, they have surrendered significantly more passing yards during the same time frame.
W: Wins; L: Losses; W% (Win Percentage): W / (W + L); Pts: Points; TotYds(Total Yards): Passing Yards + Rushing Yards; PassY: Passing Yards; RushY: Rushing Yards; TO: (Turnovers): Interceptions + Fumbles lost; Sum Diff.(Sum Difference): 2nd half – 1st half [W/L, Offense, Defensive TO], 1st half – 2nd half [Defense, Offensive TO]; Pct. Diff.(Percent Difference): (2nd half / 1st half -1) * 100 [W/L, Offense, Defensive TO], (1st half / 2nd half – 1) * 100 [Defense, Offensive TO]

Even if Giants find a way (or will) to win their final games, including two head-to-head matches against the division leading Dallas Cowboys, it would not negate the significant disparity between their season splits.  Given the recent poor performances, mounting criticism and accumulating injuries, it seems Big Blue are doomed for another dejected finish.  Perhaps this is when their late season turn around will take shape…when we least expect it.

Sources:
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/

Not looking good for Big Blue…stats tell the story

There have been mounting concerns and talk from sports media and fans (like me) of another 2nd half swoon by the New York Giants.  Monday night’s loss in New Orleans was the third consecutive defeat for Big Blue.  This season marks the ninth straight year Giants have lost more games in the 2nd half of the season than the first have of the season.  Since 2003 (the year before Tom Coughlin took over as head coach), Giants have gone 51-21 in the first half (.708 winning percentage); 24-43 in the second half (.358 winning percentage).  It is inconceivable for a team to lose more than twice as many games in a split season for nearly a decade.

Many befuddled and exasperated Giants fans have launched a blame campaign on twitter and on the sports talk shows like WFAN: the list of targeted suspects include the coaches, the struggling offensive line, the porous and depleted defense, and individual players: RB Brandon Jacobs and DT Justin Tuck to name a couple.

I will reserve the analysis of the team’s second half decline for another post.  For this discussion, my focus is on what the Giants have done consistently well to make the playoffs in previous seasons.  Dating back to their first playoff berth (in 1981) since the AFL-NFL merger (in 1970), Giants have qualified for the playoffs in 14 of the last 30 years.  As mentioned in my post about Big Blue last November, the team’s formula for making the playoffs is contingent on two variables (two parts of the equation) working together:

  1. Successful running game, with emphasis on ball control
  2. Stalwart defense, with emphasis on stopping the run

Excluding the 1982 and 1987 strike-shortened seasons, Giants have rushed for more than 100 yards per game in 26 of 28 years since 1981.  G-Men have out rushed their opponents in each of the last 12 playoff seasons (starting in 1985) by a margin of 44.4 yards per game.  They also have averaged nearly 7 more rushing touchdowns than their contenders in those 12 seasons.  When Giants earned a wild card berth in 1981 and 1984, their offense gained fewer rushing yards than was surrendered by their defense.  Nonetheless, Big Blue was ranked 2nd best allowing just 10 rushing touchdowns in each of those seasons.  G-Men also held their rivals to a league low 3.4 yards per carry in 1981.

In the 14 years Giants missed the playoffs, the team had three winning seasons: 10-6 in 1988; 9-7 in 1994; 10-6 in 2010.  In 1991 and 2010 Big Blue ran the ball very well in comparison to their opponents.  However, Giants allowed more than 100 rushing yards per game, and they lost the turnover battle in both of those years.

Through the first 11 games of this year, Giants have been outgained on the ground by a margin of 48.2 yards per game.  G-Men are ranked 24th out of 32 teams against the run, surrendering 130.5 yards per game.  Their defense is ranked 25th yielding 4.8 yards per carry and 29th in rushing touchdowns allowed.  Giants’ ineffective running game has labored to gain 82.3 yards per game, worst in the NFL.  Their paltry 3.2 yards per carry is the league’s lowest average.  Big Blue is on pace to finish with the fewest rushing yards per game in its franchise since 1945: they went 3-6-1, averaging 76.9 yards per game.  G-Men are yielding the most negative net yardage (running game versus run defense) since 1980: they went 4-12 with a differential of -48.6 yards per game.

In short, it is not looking good for Big Blue.  Notwithstanding the recent lackluster performances, the injuries and the remaining schedule, the pattern of historical data suggests G-Men will not make the playoffs unless they significantly improve their running game and sure up their defense against the run.  That is a tall order with just five games to go, having fallen out of first place; and facing an upcoming match up against the well-rested and undefeated Packers on a short week for the Giants.

Take a look at the two grids below comparing Giants’ rushing offense and rankings to their rushing defense and rankings since 1981.  First grid is a breakdown of their playoff seasons; second grid is a breakdown of their non-playoff seasons.  Numbers in bold indicate best finish within the years listed for each grid.

SB: Super Bowl outcome (Win or Loss); W: Wins; L: Losses; T: Ties; Att: Attempts (carries); Yds: Yards; Y/G: Yards per Game; TD: Touchdowns; Y/A: Yards per Attempt; Diff. (Differential): Rushing Offense – Rushing Defense

In the Playoff Seasons grid, the four Super Bowls are also in aggregate; the last 12 playoff seasons are split into 7 years from 1985 to 2000 and 5 years from 2002 to 2008.  The stats during the Super Bowl years are slightly better, but basically the same as the numbers from 1985 to 2000.  The trend over the last decade indicates G-Men are not as effective in stopping the run and thwarting rushing touchdowns despite making the playoffs.

The Non-playoff Seasons grid has more variance since there is a greater difference between just missing the playoffs and completely missing the playoffs.  In comparing each grid as a whole, the relationship of a successful running game and a stingy defense against the run is apparent.  The 2011 stats fit more closely to a profile of a non-playoff team with a losing record.  The notion or expectation that the success and failure of this season rests on the shoulders of QB Eli Manning is false.  Manning cannot overcome the deficiencies in Giants’ running game and defense.  If G-Men are to mount a run for the playoffs, it has to be in every sense of the cliché: a ‘team effort’.

Sources:
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/