Commentary: Fun with numbers, looking at the IronBirds stats so far

Looking at the title of this entry, I am reminded of the corny children's television programs I watched growing up, and those thoughts are accompanied by equally corny kid-show music, which is tough to get rid of once it takes hold in your head. In any case, this "fun with numbers" exercise concerns men playing a dangerous sport at the elite level, not singing songs about the sides of a triangle, so let's get down to business. You must keep in mind, as I've been causing some co-workers to lose their hair by attempting to compose my columns an hour before they are due, this is largely being written in the press box at Wednesday night's IronBirds game, and does not take into account Wednesday's stats, unless noted. Here's some food for thought:

53-40: I know it does not really matter when your runs are scored, though I think there's some statistical evidence that shows the team that gets on the board first will win slightly more often, but this number represents how much the IronBirds have outscored opponents over the final four innings throughout this season. The only inning in that bunch when Aberdeen has been outscored is the ninth, in which Aberdeen has allowed 11 and scored five. That I find a bit alarming, but a positive 13-run differential in the second half of games is impressive.

77-57: Somewhat less impressive, and much more alarming, is this ratio, which shows how badly the IronBirds have been outscored over the first five innings of their first 23 games. This shows that they've been digging holes for themselves, then trying to claw back out. Aberdeen has outscored opponents 21-16 in the fourth inning, but everywhere else there are negative ratios, the worst coming in the second inning, when the IronBirds have allowed more than twice the number they have scored (22-10).

1.16-1: I feel like I've harped on this before, but that number is the strikeout-to-walk ratio of Aberdeen's pitching staff, and if you are not a baseball numbers egghead, it is not a good one, actually it's rather bad, the worst in the New York-Penn League by a pretty good margin. Ideally, as a bottom line, though some pitchers can survive by not meeting this number, you want your staff striking out twice as many batters as they walk, giving the team a 2-1 ratio. You need proof that 2-1 is a good marker? Go look at the league's team statistics page, and you'll see that every squad except the Jamestown Jammers that holds a K-BB ratio of 2-1 or higher has a winning record, and the five teams that don't are 40-75 collectively.

1.77: That would be the earned run average of Juan Guzman, the IronBirds luckless starter, who has yet to pick up a victory in four appearances. The right-handed 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic has not even earned a decision, but his numbers, team-best ERA included, show that he's getting better with each start, and that he should see a check in the W column soon. Through Wednesday's appearance, Guzman had struck out 17 and walked seven over 20-1/3 innings. He's allowed about a hit an inning, which is high, but he hasn't walked a ton of hitters (3.1 per nine innings). Good luck, Juan.

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