What’s Up With All These Extra-Innings Games?

On June 5th, the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago White Sox played thirteen innings of scoreless baseball before both teams erupted for twelve runs in the last three innings, ending in the sixteenth. On June 8th, the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins played more than two games in one—a twenty inning battle that took over six hours to complete. Only three runs were scored and there was a ridiculously long period—from the bottom of the fourth to the top of the twentieth inning—where no runs were scored at all. The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays played eighteen the same day. Since June 8th, there have been eleven other extra-innings games, including another eighteen inning game between the Athletics and the Yankees. Recently, one of my friends asked me whether I thought the recent rash of extra-innings games is unusual. Brandon posed the hypothesis that since less and less runs are being scored per game, are more games going to extra innings as a result?

Do you think that all of these extra-inning games are indicative of the trend of the past 2 decades where pitching skill is outpacing hitting skill…I dunno. I may be imagining this, but I think runs scored in baseball have gotten lower in the past 5 years alone and now we’re having a ton of extra-inning games lately.

I thought this was an excellent question and worthy of a bit of research. Let’s start by establishing how many extra-innings games there have been for the past two decades and see if there is any correlation with the amount of runs scored each year.

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