It has been no secret that I believe strongly in defense. Don't get me wrong, I understand the defense can't actually put runs on the board, but there is no substitute for run prevention. Despite the fact that most games are won or lost by capitalizing on opponents mistakes, there is still an overwhelming emphasis on run producing, not preventing. Here are a few stats from the Storm's 2012 season.
The Freebie War was a stat I payed quite a bit of attention to throughout the course of the season. The "freebies" participating in the war were all the walks or hit by pitches allowed by our starters, wild pitches or passed balls, balks, stolen bases allowed and errors committed in comparison to our opponents. It basically adds up any bases achieved that wasn't earned through a base hit. This does not include, though it probably should, bases allowed by throwing to the wrong base and allowing backside runners to advance.
In the Freebie War, the Storm went 23-24-3 overall. In the 23 times in which the Storm won the Freebie War, they compiled a record of 17-6 (.739). In the 3 games where they allowed the same amount as their opponent, they were a perfect 3-0, which makes a nice 20-6 record (.769) when equal or better in the Freebie War. As expected, the tables turn when losing a particular battle in the Freebie War. Lake Erie was 6-18 (.333) when giving up the bases.
The postseason is a different animal, in every respect, where anything can happen. With that said, the Storm was 0-2-1 during the GLIAC Playoffs where they allowed 15 more extra bases in three games. During the 50 game regular season, the Storm took 3 extra bases more than their opponents.
To give you a glimpse into how different the postseason is (and why small sample sizes don't always provide accurate reflections of how something actually is), Lake Erie won their first game while committing 3 errors and lost their final game where their opponent committed 5 errors.
As far as walks are concerned, Lake Erie allowed less walks than their opponent 23 times, more walks 19 times, and were at a stalemate 8 times. The numbers didn't quite show the benefit of not walking hitters when looking at the records, but this could be a result of many factors (errors, run support, or just getting hit around the yard). But the fact is Lake Erie won over 60% of their games (14-9) when allowing less walks than their opponent. If you add in the games where the walk totals were equal, the Storm went 20-11, winning nearly two-thirds of those games. In the remaining 19 games, the Storm was a dismal 6-13 (.316) when allowing even one more free pass than their opponent.
Looking at runs scored vs. runs allowed, the Storm magic number all year was four. In games when scoring 4 or more runs, the Storm went 20-9 (.690). When the Storm allowed 4 runs or less, they were 20-6 (.769). To give you an idea how important run prevention is compared to run production, the Storm went 6-2 in games when they scored double-digit runs. While that looks good on the surface, in all reality, it should be 8-0. I know there are aspects of the game in which cannot be controlled, but in games when run totals near the 20's, it becomes more about which team can stop the other as opposed to who can out-slug who.
Here's one last simple look at errors for the season. When Lake Erie committed less errors than their opponents, they went 13-3 (.813). When committing more errors, they were 6-14 (.300). I wish it were more complicated than that...actually, I don't. I love that it's that cut and dry. Pitch and play defense and you win. Period.
Thanks again to all those who supported us this season. Your support meant the world and our success wouldn't have meant as much on its own. We look forward to taking another step (or two, or three) next season. Keep checking back all summer for updates on everything Storm baseball on the blog and on Twitter (@thecoachscave). RAGE ON!