The Danger Zone Theory

For every action, an equal and opposite reaction.

For every run scored, a run allowed soon after.

The latter, as it applies to the Phillies, is disturbingly true. Philly pitching never seems happy with having a new lead, and will often relinquish it readily and quickly to opponents.

And thus, we have the Danger Zone Theory. The “Danger Zone” is a two-inning period after the Phillies score a run or multiple runs. That is, two opponent half-innings. It seemed, from my detached observance, that Phillies pitchers would often surrender a run within two at-bats after they themselves had put some on the board.

And so I crunched the numbers, and found out that I wasn’t too far off.

The Phillies have scored in 134 individual innings so far this season. That includes innings one through nine, as well as extra innings.

Better than half the time – 70 times, to be exact – Philly pitchers have surrendered runs within the Danger Zone. That’s a 52.24 percent likelihood that opposing hitters will score in some quantity within two at-bats of the Phillies scoring.

That number 134 is also a bit inflated. If you adjust for times the Phillies have scored without giving the Danger Zone a proper chance to develop, the percentage goes up. There have been 112 “true” scoring innings. “True” is defined as scoring in the bottom of the seventh or earlier as the home team, or the top of the eighth or earlier as the visitor. Adjusting this way allows for at least two opposing at-bats, and for the theory to be evaluated in its fullest sense.

Follow me? Good.

Adjusting for “true” scoring innings, Philly pitchers give up runs within two opponent at-bats a silly 58.04 percent of the time.

I currently have no outside basis for comparison, but I defy someone to find another team in the N.L. – or maybe even the entire Major Leagues – that has done this more often than the Phillies.

It’s even more difficult to cap off a comeback when your pitchers can’t sustain the deficit. This doesn’t excuse poor situational hitting, as could be found in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game against Florida, but it sure isn’t helping things.


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