The Toronto Blue Jays have been playing an exciting brand of baseball this season, one that has had their fans at the edges of their collective seats.
The team has played in 15 one-run games already. Fortunately, they’ve done well in those contests, sporting a 10-5 record.
With the offence still rounding into form and a few key players on the shelf for much of the season, it’s fair to wonder if this trend will continue. Here’s how that record in one-run games stacks up historically and what it could mean moving forward.
Blue Jays: One-run games, what history says
The Jays frenetic start to the season has fans feeling like it’s August and September instead of April and May, but what does it mean?
Throughout baseball history, there have been teams that excelled at winning games by a paper-thin margin. The Baltimore Orioles own three of the top four best one-run game records in MLB history, going 29-9 in 2012, 21-7 in 1981 40-15 in 1970.
The 1970 team was one of the most dominant in fairly-recent baseball history. That Orioles club went 108-54 and won seven out of eight playoff games (the league championship series were best-of-five back then) while scoring sixty runs in those games.
The team from Cleveland also had an extremely successful one-run game record in 1954 (32-13), which also translated to a World Series appearance. Although, if you’re familiar with the opening scene of Major League, they would somehow lose that Fall Classic despite a 111-43 record, which would spark a tailspin that would last the better part of four decades.
The 1925 Washington Senators, 1961 Cincinnati Reds, 1980 Kansas City Royals, and 1986 Boston Red Sox all parlayed excellent one-run game records into advancing to the World Series, although they all lost.
The 1940 Reds went 41-17 in one-run games en route to the World Series championship while the ‘81 Orioles finished 59-46, a game out of first, in a strike-shortened year.
Finally, the top team on the list, 36-11 in one-run games? A team Blue Jays fans are familiar with, the 2016 Texas Rangers.
Blue Jays: Too Close to Call?
Although the historical data suggests a sure-fire playoff berth, the recent results have been less encouraging.
The series loss in Cleveland included two defeats by the slimmest of margins and they’ve now lost five of seven games overall. The bullpen hasn’t been great, and clutch, late-game hitting has been practically non-existent lately.
The team ranks toward the bottom of the American League in several bullpen categories including losses (9, third-most), ERA (4.12, 13th), blown saves (6, second-most), and opponents average (.237, 14th).
That, combined with an MLB-worst .187 team batting average with runners in scoring position suggests they’ve done well to have the record they’ve got at the moment.
If the Jays get a lead into the ninth, Jordan Romano has been a sensation and nearly flawless, going 12 of 13 on save opportunities.
In recent games, the bullpen has surrendered a late lead and the offence wasn’t able to respond. If the Jays can get even towards the middle in the relief and RISP avg. numbers, perhaps they won’t find themselves in so many close games.
Wouldn’t that be a relief to Blue Jays nation?