Baseball Magazine

3 + 1 Rule

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

I attended my first Phillies game of the year this past Sunday.  It was a 9-8 loss for the Phils.  Here was the scoring line for the game.

Royals 9 Phils 8

One of my daily rituals is to check out all the high school and MLB box scores that appear in my local paper.  If you do this often enough and don’t just look at the final score, the winning and losing pitchers, and who had all the hits, you might begin to see some patterns when it comes to scoring.  Today’s post will focus on one pattern you will see most of the time at all levels.  It was the case at the Phillies game as well.

In a previous post way back I wrote about how in most games the winning team scores an equal number or more runs in one inning than the losing team scores all game.  The other day, I counted over 60 box scores between high school baseball and softball and MLB games combined.  In over 50 of them, what I described above was true.  The big inning is an enormous factor in winning baseball games.  A big inning is usually defined as 3 or more runs in one inning.

Knowing all this, a pretty good strategy for teams is to follow the 3+1 rule.  First, you do everything you can to have a big inning (3+ runs) early in the game.  Statistically, your chances of winning go up dramatically if you can score first in a big way.  Second, every inning after that you try for one run.  That’s where the “3+1” comes from.  The big inning sets the stage and the single runs after that expand the lead and demoralize the other team.  Going for single runs after the big inning force your team to stay focused instead of thinking they can just coast to victory after the big inning.  It also prevents the other team from moral victories every time they shut you down after the big inning.  When that occurs, the team that is behind gains confidence which frequently gets them back in the game.  This was exactly what happened between the Phillies and the Royals.  Having additional one-run innings after the big inning sends the other team the message that “today is not your day.”  In the case of the Royals, the “add on” runs after their big inning gave them enough padding to ultimately win the game even though the Phils rallied in the 9th inning.

For all these reasons, a “3+1” strategy can be a good one to promote to your team.

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