Yesterday I was reading in The Great American Novel about the record-breaking exploits of the woeful Ruppert Mundys, a team that finishes with an abysmal 34-120 record in the 1943 season of Philip Roth’s fictional Patriot League. It set me thinking about what undesirable records the Croydon Pirates might be on pace to break in the 2009 National Baseball League season.
I have compared southern top-tier teams across the last nine seasons in four statistical categories, each of which can give us an indication of how overmatched a team was (averaging across the players) in a particular season. This is what I found.
Lowest team average – .221 (Richmond Flames, 2004)
Pirates’ 2009 team average – .233
Strike-out rate by batters (per plate appearance)
Highest team rate – 33.2% (Bracknell Blazers, 2008)
Pirates’ 2009 team rate – 24.3%
Highest team average – 12.25 (Bracknell Blazers, 2008)
Pirates’ 2009 team average – 14.77
Walk rate by pitchers (per plate appearance)
Highest team rate – 21.6% (Bracknell Blazers, 2006)
Pirates’ 2009 team rate – 19.7%
Among these four categories, the Pirates are currently on pace to break only one record, although their batting average and walk rate by pitchers are not safe yet. And there may be a few more undesirable records that I have not yet checked that the Pirates could be in the running for in 2009.
Since the breakaway league of the early 1990s merged with the official British Baseball League for the 1995 season, there has been only one top-tier team to go 0-fer on the year – Manchester Express in 2004 (0-20). The Pirates (currently 0-14) could become the second one, and the first in the south.