By The Numbers: Which Teams Blow the Most Leads When and How Often in 2016

Blown leads are the bane of every baseball fan’s existence; it’s a gut punch to watch your team fall from a winning position, regardless of record. That being said, some teams this season have been way better at holding leads than others. In the interest of observing every team from as level a field as possible, blowing a lead is defined here as entering an inning ahead and leaving it behind in the score. Before jumping to the massive graph of every team, here are some big-picture observations from my morning on Baseball Reference. It’s true that this has flaws, like a smaller sample size of innings started leading when a team is bad, and that a lot of it can be attributed to bullpen issues. Doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to look at, though.

DISCLAIMER: All stats are accurate as of the morning of 5/19, before any games were played.

 

So far this year in Major League Baseball, 168 leads have been blown in total. The most common inning that it happened in was the fifth, with 31 across all teams, good for 18.5%. The lowest is the ninth, at 8 total for 4.8% (not counting the first, obviously). MLB teams have averaged 5.6 blown leads this season, with a range of 2 to 11. There have been a total of 8 leads blown in the ninth inning, across 6 teams. Of the 30 teams, 22 have blown a lead in a late-game situation, defined as innings 7-9 (average of 2.3 per team, range of 1-6). Here’s a graph of total blown leads by inning:

graph

Note: A T-number indicates a tie, and at what count (example: T-2 means multiple tied at 2 each). Here are the first set of awards:

 

Most Late-Game Blown Leads Toronto (6)
Most Ninth-Inning Blown Leads Seattle, Philadelphia (T-2)
Most Total Blown Leads Arizona (11)
Least Total Blown Leads NY Mets, Tampa Bay (T-2)
Division With Most Blown Leads AL West (33)
Division With Least Blown Leads NL East (21)

 

Other teams that have blown a ninth-inning lead include Washington, Tampa Bay, Texas, and Oakland at 1 each. Toronto was one of the big surprises here; they’ve done a spectacular job in this area. The Blue Jays have blown 9 leads in total, 3 each in the seventh and eighth innings. Looking at the numbers as objectively as possible, the Mets have probably been the best team at retaining leads, since they have more wins than Tampa Bay and have only blown 2 leads all year (plus, one of Tampa’s was in the ninth). Now, let’s take a closer look at the rest of the league by division.

National League Central

Team Blown Leads Most Common Inning
Chicago Cubs 4 4, 5, 6, 7 (T-1)
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 6
St. Louis Cardinals 8 4
Milwaukee Brewers 5 3
Cincinnati Reds 8 2, 7, 8 (T-2)

 

National League East

Team Blown Leads Most Common Inning
Washington Nationals 6 6
Philadelphia Phillies 4 9
New York Mets 2 5, 7 (T-1)
Miami Marlins 6 8
Atlanta Braves 3 3, 7, 8 (T-1)

 

National League West

Team Blown Leads Most Common Inning
San Francisco Giants 3 5
Colorado Rockies 7 5
Los Angeles Dodgers 7 6
Arizona Diamondbacks 11 4
San Diego Padres 3 4

 

American League Central

Team Blown Leads Most Common Inning
Chicago White Sox 5 5
Cleveland Indians 4 5
Kansas City Royals 5 5
Detroit Tigers 4 5, 6, 7, 8 (T-1)
Minnesota Twins 5 7

 

American League East

Team Blown Leads Most Common Inning
Baltimore Orioles 5 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 (T-1)
Boston Red Sox 9 2, 3, 4, 6 (T-2)
Tampa Bay Rays 2 2, 9 (T-1)
Toronto Blue Jays 9 7, 8 (T-3)
New York Yankees 5 5

 

American League West

Team Blown Leads Most Common Inning
Seattle Mariners 6 9
Texas Rangers 7 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (T-1)
Oakland Athletics 8 4
Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim 7 5
Houston Astros 5 3

 

In total, the most blown leads by league goes to the American League by a narrow margin of 86-82. It’s also worth noting that for the most part, the divisions were oddly similar in totals, with each league having one in the 20s. The AL divisions totaled 23-33-30, where the NL divisions totaled 30-31-21, for averages of 28.7 per and 27.3 per, respectively. So congratulations to the National League. They blow games a little bit less often than their American League counterparts.

3 thoughts on “By The Numbers: Which Teams Blow the Most Leads When and How Often in 2016

  1. Can you update this through 8/18/2016? I suspect the SF Giants unfortunately lead the league in blown leads, holds and saves.

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      1. I would love to see the update too. Really want to see if Farrell is as bad as the fans think he is at BP management. By your first sample size it appears the starters were more likely to blow leads than the BP for the Red Sox.

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