How Inconsistent is the Phillies' Offense?

Not very.

If by "inconsistent", we are talking about the fact that they started very slowly, but have done better lately, then Yes!

First 16 games: 2.7 runs per game (15th in the NL), and they were also 15th in scoring 3+ or 4+ runs
Last 30 games: 4.8 runs per game (3rd in the NL), 5th most games of 3+, 2nd most games of 4+

But it seems that most times when people call the offense inconsistent they mean that the Phillies score a lot some days, and struggle some others. Well, of course, every team does that to some extent. So does the Phillies' scoring fluctuate more than most other teams?

The way to determine this is by calculating the standard deviation for each team to measure how far each game's score differs from that team's average. Also, because higher scoring teams will tend to have bigger numerical differences, we control for that by dividing the standard deviation by the team's average runs per game.

If we compare the NL teams' stats since the start of the season, the Phillies have been the 6th most inconsistent team in league:

Total 2012 ATL MIA NYM PHI WSN CHC CIN HOU MIL PIT STL ARI COL LAD SDP SFG AVG
StDev 3.7 2.6 2.5 3.0 2.2 2.2 2.4 2.9 3.3 2.1 3.2 2.6 3.8 2.4 2.4 2.5 2.8
RPG 4.9 3.9 4.1 4.1 3.6 3.5 3.9 4.1 4.3 2.8 5.3 4.2 4.9 4.6 3.3 4.1 4.1
SD/RPG 0.77 0.66 0.60 0.74 0.60 0.63 0.63 0.70 0.76 0.74 0.61 0.63 0.77 0.53 0.74 0.62 0.69
rank 2 8 15 6 14 9 10 7 3 5 13 11 1 16 4 12

So not only is the Cards' offense potent, it's consistently potent. Also, a good part of the inconsistency in Colorado's numbers is likely due to the difference between its home and away parks.

However if we look at the first 16 games and the last 30 separately, it's a different picture:

In the first 16 games, they were the most inconsistent:

Thru 4/22 ATL MIA NYM PHI WSN CHC CIN HOU MIL PIT STL ARI COL LAD SDP SFG AVG
StDev 3.9 2.8 2.0 2.4 1.7 2.4 2.7 3.4 2.7 1.6 3.6 2.1 4.1 2.1 2.6 2.0 2.8
RPG 5.7 3.8 3.8 2.7 3.6 3.7 3.3 4.4 4.2 2.0 5.1 4.0 4.8 4.3 3.5 4.1 3.9
SD/RPG 0.69 0.75 0.54 0.88 0.46 0.65 0.82 0.78 0.64 0.80 0.69 0.52 0.86 0.49 0.75 0.48 0.71
rank 9 7 12 1 16 10 3 5 11 4 8 13 2 14 6 15

But over the last 30, they've been only the 10th most inconsistent (i.e. 7th most consistent) offense in the NL:

Since 4/23 ATL MIA NYM PHI WSN CHC CIN HOU MIL PIT STL ARI COL LAD SDP SFG AVG
StDev 3.6 2.5 2.6 3.1 2.5 2.2 2.3 2.6 3.7 2.2 3.1 2.9 3.6 2.6 2.3 2.8 2.9
RPG 4.4 4.0 4.3 4.8 3.6 3.4 4.2 4.0 4.4 3.3 5.4 4.3 4.9 4.8 3.1 4.1 4.2
SD/RPG 0.82 0.63 0.62 0.64 0.68 0.63 0.54 0.66 0.83 0.67 0.57 0.68 0.73 0.55 0.74 0.68 0.68
rank 2 11 13 10 7 12 16 9 1 8 14 5 4 15 3 6

Big innings

Another type of inconsistency raised in the Naked Punch comments is within the game, i.e. scoring runs in bunches rather than spreading them throughout the game. I don’t have the data for other teams, but this is how many runs the Phillies have scored by the size of the inning:

1 – 62 (33%)
2 – 42 (22%)
3 – 24 (13%)
4 – 28 (15%)
5 – 20 (11%)
6 – 12 (6%)

So 45% of runs have been scored in innings of 3 runs or more. That’s kind of interesting, but I have no way of knowing if that’s high, low, or neither.

I will add though, that since the unit for Wins and Losses isn't the inning but the game, this is more of an academic question, with little bearing on the success of a team.

ADDENDUM

So, no surprise, Baseball-Refence has the data on scoring by inning (here - scroll halfway down).

And the Phillies are in fact among the highest in bunching their runs in big innings:

- The 45% calculated above for innings with 3+ runs is 3rd in the NL
- They are #1 in the percentage of runs scored in innings of 4 or more (32%)
- They are 2nd in runs scored in innings of 5 or more (17%)

Innings with X runs Runs Scored by Inning size % of runs scored in big innings
0 1 2 3 4 5+ 1 2 3 4 5+ Total 3+ % rank 4+ % rank 5+ % rank
ATL 287 69 32 12 7 5 69 64 36 28 27 224 41% 4 25% 4 12% 4
MIA 304 66 23 12 2 4 66 46 36 8 21 177 37% 9 16% 12 12% 5
NYM 287 68 22 14 7 1 68 44 42 28 5 187 40% 6 18% 10 3% 16
PHI 308 62 21 8 7 6 62 42 24 28 32 188 45% 3 32% 1 17% 2
WSN 295 67 21 11 4 1 67 42 33 16 5 163 33% 13 13% 13 3% 15
CHC 301 66 15 7 8 1 66 30 21 32 6 155 38% 8 25% 5 4% 13
CIN 295 60 26 8 6 2 60 52 24 24 11 171 35% 11 20% 7 6% 10
HOU 287 57 26 13 6 2 57 52 39 24 10 182 40% 5 19% 9 5% 11
MIL 295 61 27 10 2 7 61 54 30 8 38 191 40% 7 24% 6 20% 1
PIT 303 60 26 3 0 1 60 52 9 0 5 126 11% 16 4% 16 4% 12
STL 278 55 36 17 11 3 55 72 51 44 18 240 47% 1 26% 2 8% 8
ARI 290 59 33 10 3 4 59 66 30 12 21 188 34% 12 18% 11 11% 6
COL 273 61 25 15 5 5 61 50 45 20 33 209 47% 2 25% 3 16% 3
LAD 272 59 39 8 6 3 59 78 24 24 16 201 32% 14 20% 8 8% 7
SDP 319 60 22 9 2 2 60 44 27 8 11 150 31% 15 13% 14 7% 9
SFG 306 45 37 14 4 1 45 74 42 16 7 184 35% 10 13% 15 4% 14
4700 975 431 171 80 48 975 862 513 320 266 2936 37% 20% 9%

The Pirates have been amazing so far. Not only are they only averaging 2.9 runs per game, but they have only had 4 (FOUR!) innings all year in which they've scored more than 2 runs.

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