Are Crucial Games Slower Than Trivial Ones?

2010attendance_medium

Do teams slow down when there is more at stake?

A couple of trends indicate that they do. While there is no basic indicator of game "importance" (that I am aware of), we can infer importance by looking at a few other variables, such as attendance, the absolute quality (win percentage) of the two teams in the match-up and the relative quality (divisional rank, games back) of the two teams in the match-up.

Theoretically, unimportant games should draw fewer fans than important games; crucial games should see a higher sell-thru ratio (attendance / stadium capacity). Additionally, games with two winning teams should be more important than games with two losing teams.

A quick look at the chart above confirms (or fails to reject) the working hypothesis: there is a clear positive relationship between sell-thru and game pace (minutes played per hundred pitches thrown, or MCP). A chart below the jump shows a similar relationship between team quality (the sum of the two teams' win percentages) and pace.

2010quality_medium

Albeit, the lines don't fit too well to the data points in a simple bivariate relationship, nor is the slope particularly steep, but multivariate testing shows that the relationship is actually rather strong.

Above, we see the same relationship between team quality and pace. Note that both charts are significantly bracketed. The attendance chart ignores games prior to 4/15/10 to avoid including opening day games, which are usually well-attended but have little impact on playoff advancement. The team quality chart looks only at games after the all-star break, by which point the differences between team win percentages have largely stabilized. Both charts include only the regular season.

The real impact of these variables is more obvious when we plug them into a multivariate model that controls for more obvious variables, such as innings pitched, batters faced, pitches thrown, runs scored, run differential and bullpen calls (to name a few). For those of you who want to examine the full models, I've included the coefficient, standard error and significance data below. For the rest of you, allow me to summarize:

  • During the regular season, a 50% increase in sell-thru correlates with a four minute increase in game duration and a 1.5 minute increase in game pace (MCP), ceteris paribus.
  • During the regular season, a .500 increase in total team quality (sum of win percentages) yields a 4.5 minute increase in game duration, and a 0.9 minute increase in game pace, ceteris paribus.*
  • During the regular season, a match-up between two first-place teams lasts nearly two minutes longer than a match-up between a first- and a fifth-place team, and would slow down by about 0.5 MCP.

*Note that duration and pace are calculated in two different models, with different variables and an all-other-variables-equal assumption, so duration calculations do not necessarily equal pace-by-pitches-thrown numbers.

To confirm the working hypothesis one must to investigate more deeply, with additional years of data and better variables. However, until we develop the equivalent of leverage index for games during a season, these numbers do suggest that, controlling for all else, crucial games take longer to complete than trivial ones.

Duration Models (Time in Minutes)
Regular Season + Postseason Regular Season Only
Model 1
Model 2
Model 3
Model 4
Coef. SE Coef. SE Coef. SE Coef. SE
Innings Pitched -0.2630 0.4803 -0.2019 0.4777
Batters Faced 0.5586 0.0704
0.5269 0.0521 0.5572 0.0701
0.4218 0.0108
Pitches Thrown 0.4314 0.0164
0.4272 0.0108 0.4211 0.0165
2.3735 0.1328
Strikes Thrown -0.0100 0.0257 -0.0011 0.0258
Runs Scored -0.1446 0.0788
-0.1153 0.0607
-0.1364 0.0783
-0.1088 0.0602
Run Differential -0.9612 0.0846
-0.9538 0.0841
-0.9621 0.0842
-0.9667 0.0835
Pitching Changes 2.3654 0.1361
2.3735 0.1355
2.4117 0.1368
-0.1088 0.0602
Weekend Game 0.0127 0.4189 0.0064 0.4188
AL Home Game 0.6962 0.3974
0.6912 0.3959 0.6113 0.4070
Division Matchup 0.1887 0.3909 0.2516 0.3880
Games Back (Sum) -0.0498 0.0251
-0.0445 0.0248
Games Back (Difference) -0.0497 0.0293
-0.0500 0.0293
WPCT (Sum) 9.2687 1.6947
9.1255 1.6887
WPCT (Difference) -3.2155 1.8162
-3.3193 1.8138
Division Rank (Sum) 0.2358 0.1338
0.2035 0.1311
Division Rank (Difference) -0.4569 0.1837
-0.4742 0.1830
Division Series 17.8651 2.4919
17.6780 2.4787




Championship Series 23.7970 2.7702
23.7094 2.7616
World Series 19.3449 4.2704
19.1094 4.2580
Attendance Sell-thru 8.6490 0.8263
8.6427 0.8068 8.2196 0.8694
8.0164 0.8347
Constant -4.9721 2.5337
-5.7310 2.1765
-14.3652 3.4163
-14.3961 3.1378
N 2456 2456 2424 2424
R^2 0.8768 0.8768 0.8787 0.8786
Adjusted R^2 0.8761 0.8763 0.8779 0.8780
Significant at p <= 0.05
Significant at p <= 0.10
Not significant at p <= 0.10

 

Pace Models (Minutes per 100 Pitches)
Regular Season + Postseason Regular Season Only
Model 1
Model 2
Model 3
Model 4
Coef. SE Coef. SE Coef. SE Coef. SE
Innings Pitched 0.4401 0.1729
0.3045 0.1354
0.4712 0.1732
0.4726 0.1729
Batters Faced 0.0595 0.0241
0.0795 0.0190
0.0546 0.0241
0.0551 0.0240
Strikes Thrown -0.0728 0.0063
-0.0732 0.0063
-0.0734 0.0063
-0.0735 0.0063
Runs Scored 0.0357 0.0288 0.0402 0.0288 0.0409 0.0287
Run Differential -0.3239 0.0313
-0.3138 0.0298
-0.3266 0.0314
-0.3272 0.0312
Pitching Changes 0.7328 0.0494
0.7288 0.0480
0.7393 0.0498
0.7361 0.0485
Weekend Game -0.0135 0.1554 -0.0137 0.1563
AL Home Game 0.1267 0.1471 0.0506 0.1515
Division Matchup 0.0016 0.1450 0.0151 0.1448
Games Back (Sum) -0.0117 0.0093 -0.0113 0.0092
Games Back (Difference) -0.0129 0.0109 -0.0130 0.0109
WPCT (Sum) 1.7513 0.6317
1.7975 0.4886
WPCT (Difference) -1.2007 0.6781
-1.2129 0.6757
Division Rank (Sum) -0.0043 0.0499
Division Rank (Difference) -0.1268 0.0686
-0.1285 0.0683
Division Series 6.7366 0.9234
6.7595 0.9197
Championship Series 7.5680 1.0276
7.5683 1.0244
World Series 7.6920 1.5831
7.7705 1.5803
Attendance Sell-thru 2.9861 0.3065
2.9505 0.2967 2.8492 0.3245
2.8335 0.3079
Constant 59.2250 0.9389
59.3462 0.9314 57.8401 1.2756
57.7749 1.0392
N 2456 2456 2424 2424
R^2 0.2641 0.2634 0.2311 0.2310
Adjusted R^2 0.2602 0.2607 0.2259 0.2272
Significant at p <= 0.05
Significant at p <= 0.10
Not significant at p <= 0.10

 

Data from BaseballReference.com

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker