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Usually, a pitching staff’s quality is measured by ERA or FIP or some similar metric that takes a mean of all performance. Looking at just the extremes can be helpful, though. This post focuses on allowing 7 or more runs and holding the other team to 1 or 0 runs.

First off, let’s see which teams have been most successful at preventing the other team’s scoring from getting out of hand. Here is a list of how many times each team has given up at least 7 runs in a game:

Rk Tm Year # of Games w/ 7+ RA W L Boxscore Links
1 ATL
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1 0 1 Ind. Games
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2 NYY
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2 0 2 Ind. Games
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3 CLE
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3 0 3 Ind. Games
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PIT
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2011
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3 0 3 Ind. Games
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SFG
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2011
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3 0 3 Ind. Games
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TBR
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2011
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3 1 2 Ind. Games
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7 COL
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2011
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4 0 4 Ind. Games
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FLA
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2011
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4 1 3 Ind. Games
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OAK
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4 0 4 Ind. Games
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TEX
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4 1 3 Ind. Games
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TOR
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2011
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4 0 4 Ind. Games
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12 LAA
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2011
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5 0 5 Ind. Games
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PHI
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2011
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5 1 4 Ind. Games
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SDP
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2011
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5 0 5 Ind. Games
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STL
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2011
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5 1 4 Ind. Games
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WSN
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2011
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5 0 5 Ind. Games
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17 BAL
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2011
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6 0 6 Ind. Games
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BOS
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2011
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6 0 6 Ind. Games
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CHC
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2011
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6 1 5 Ind. Games
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20 ARI
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7 2 5 Ind. Games
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CIN
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7 0 7 Ind. Games
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MIN
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7 0 7 Ind. Games
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NYM
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7 0 7 Ind. Games
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24 SEA
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8 1 7 Ind. Games
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25 DET
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9 1 8 Ind. Games
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KCR
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9 1 8 Ind. Games
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LAD
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9 0 9 Ind. Games
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28 HOU
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10 0 10 Ind. Games
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MIL
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10 1 9 Ind. Games
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30 CHW
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11 2 9 Ind. Games
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Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 5/5/2011.

The Braves have remarkably only allowed more than 6 runs just 1 time, in a 10-2 loss to the Phillies. The Phillies’ vaunted staff has actually given up more than 6 runs 5 times, which is above-average but hardly notable. Could the Braves actually have better pitching than the Phillies? (I’m going to say not quite, but it’s close.)

It is interesting that the Yankees rank second despite all the gnashing of teeth about their pitching staff. They have had some poor starts, but only 2 catastrophic ones. That kind of pitching consistency should go a long way with their offense.

On the other end of the spectrum is the White Sox. They’ve given up 7+ runs an astonishing 11 times. That’s more than 1/3 of their games! No wonder they are 11-21.

Now let’s see which teams have done the best at holding the opposing team to 1 run or less:

Rk Tm Year # of Games w/ 1 or 0 RA W L Boxscore Links
1 OAK
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11 10 1 Ind. Games
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2 ATL
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9 8 1 Ind. Games
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3 PHI
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8 8 0 Ind. Games
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4 MIL
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7 7 0 Ind. Games
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BOS
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2011
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7 6 1 Ind. Games
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BAL
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2011
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7 7 0 Ind. Games
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7 TEX
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6 6 0 Ind. Games
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TBR
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2011
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6 6 0 Ind. Games
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COL
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6 6 0 Ind. Games
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CLE
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6 6 0 Ind. Games
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11 LAD
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5 5 0 Ind. Games
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LAA
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5 5 0 Ind. Games
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HOU
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5 5 0 Ind. Games
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CHC
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5 5 0 Ind. Games
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15 STL
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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SFG
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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SEA
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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SDP
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2011
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4 2 2 Ind. Games
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PIT
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2011
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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NYM
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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MIN
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2011
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4 3 1 Ind. Games
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KCR
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2011
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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FLA
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2011
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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DET
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2011
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4 4 0 Ind. Games
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CHW
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2011
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4 3 1 Ind. Games
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26 WSN
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3 3 0 Ind. Games
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27 ARI
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2 2 0 Ind. Games
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28 TOR
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1 1 0 Ind. Games
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NYY
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1 1 0 Ind. Games
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CIN
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1 1 0 Ind. Games
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Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 5/5/2011.

The A’s have managed to hold opponents to under 2 runs in more than 1/3 of their games. Even in that cavernous ballpark, that is really impressive. The Braves’ staff once again ranks highly, coming in 2nd with 9 games of 0 or 1 run allowed. This time, the Phillies are right behind, though, with 8.

At the bottom of the list are the Reds, Blue Jays, and Yankees. Somehow, the Yankees staff has managed to give up between 2 and 6 runs in 25 of their 28 games (89%). That’s consistency, for better and for worse. They haven’t had many shutdown games, but they also haven’t let many games get out of control.

On the other end of the consistency spectrum is the Brewers, who have 10 games of 7+ runs and 7 games of 1 or 0 runs. That means they’ve scored between 2 and 6 runs in only 13 of their 30 games (43%). Their staff has a lot of potential–Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum in particular–but it has also been kicked around a lot in the early going, including Greinke in his first start of the year last night. If they can limit their disasters for the rest of the year, they’ll be in contention.

Finally, let’s look at a combination of these two numbers. To make this ranking, I just subtracted each team’s number in the first chart from its number in the second chart. Positive is good and negative is bad. Here are how the teams stack up:

Rk Tm Year # of Games w/ 1 or 0 RA # of Games w/ 7+ RA Differential
1 ATL
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9 1 +8
2 OAK
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11 4 +7
3 PHI
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8 5 +3
CLE
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2011
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6 3 +3
TBR
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6 3 +3
6 COL
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6 4 +2
TEX
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2011
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6 4 +2
8 PIT
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4 3 +1
SFG
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4 3 +1
BAL
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7 6 +1
BOS
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7 6 +1
12 FLA
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4 4 0
LAA
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5 5 0
14 NYY
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1 2 –1
SDP
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4 5 –1
WSN
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4 5 –1
CHC
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5 6 –1
18 STL
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3 5 –2
19 TOR
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1 4 –3
MIN
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4 7 –3
NYM
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4 7 –3
MIL
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7 10 –3
23 LAD
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5 9 –4
SEA
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4 8 –4
25 DET
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4 9 –5
ARI
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2 7 –5
KCR
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4 9 –5
HOU
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5 10 –5
29 CIN
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1 7 –6
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4 11 –7

As a Braves fan, all I can say is that I really hope this keeps up.

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