Last week in passing, I mentioned the Rox hope in getting a quicker start this year versus past Aprils. One reason for these slow starts was possibly due to the fact that our veterans never traveled to the Phoenix area and veterans from other teams rarely traveled to Tuscon so in essence our team was rarely ready for MLB pitching. Another possible reason is that in years past the Rox have been saddled with more difficult teams out of the gate and that our late season surges were more due to the fact that we got the weaker teams down the stretch. All valid points but what do the numbers say?
First off how does one grade your upcoming schedule? Before the season you can look at last year's records and determine a predicted strength of schedule. Then of course you can look after the season is complete and determine how weak or strong your actual schedule was.
For instance in 2011, the Rox will play Arizona (3), LA (2), at Pittsburgh (4), at NY (4), Chicago (3), Giants (3), at Florida (3), at Chicago (3), and Pittsburgh (2). 27 games in all with 13 at home and 14 on the road. In 2010 these teams wins were 65, 80, 57, 79, 75, 92, and 80. So if these teams neither improved or got worse in 2011 the Rox would have one series in April against a winning team. If you multiply number games we have against each opponent and take a weighted average then the composite win total of our April opponents is 73.3 in 2011. In 2010 the preseason composite win was 72.0, 2009 82.8 wins, and 2008 82.8 wins. As mentioned above the preseason composite was based on the previous year's win totals, what about composite wins based on final wins for that year? In 2010 78.9 wins, 2009 83.0 wins, and 2008 80.7 wins.
April Opponents - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008
Preseason 73.3 - 72.0 - 82.8 - 82.8
Postseason - 78.9 - 83.0 - 80.7
What does it really mean? Well in 2008 Rox went 11-17, 2009 8-12, and 2010 11-12. Historically they are 178-209 in April 94-97 at home and 84-112 on the road. In 2008 and 2009, Rox seemed to play a tougher April and in 2010 when the schedule looked easier ended up being more difficult after the season was played out. So if the 73.3 number holds up I would expect the Rox to have a winning April, but if Pittsburgh, under new management from a familiar face, decides to fire his team up early against his old team then 6 of those games won't be so easy. Throw in the fact that Rox always play awful in NY (22-51) and Florida (28-47). And three games in Chicago in April are never easy, remember last year's freeze game in the Windy City? Mix all of this together and suddenly I am not liking the look of our April opponents. But then again that is why we play the games...anyone looking forward to seeing the Giants? I am!