By The Common Man
As such, you’d assume that offense on Sundays would tend to be reduced. However, if we look at the offensive output for Sundays this year, it’s actually higher than the league average. Major League teams have cumulatively scored averaged 5.4 runs above their normal R/G output. That means that the average team is scoring roughly .2 runs more on a Sunday than on any other day of the week. The most successful teams on Sunday have been the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves, each of whom have scored more than a full run more on Sundays than they have overall. Only the Cincinnati Reds have scored more than a run less on Sundays.*
*Here's the raw data, culled from Baseballreference.com.
So what’s happening here? For one thing, TCM is only looking at one season, so he’s got a sample size issue. Each team has played between 20-22 games on Sundays out of roughly 140, and that’s not enough to draw any conclusions, particularly given the drastic differences in pitcher quality. That said, if this data is representative, it can be explained in a couple of ways.
For one thing, players brought in to play on Sunday might be fresher than the regulars they’re replacing. Also, the defense they’re playing against (assuming the other team is also using a Sunday lineup) might be worse, allowing for more singles and extra-base hits. Other than that, TCM isn’t sure what else could explain such a difference aside from random fluctuation.
What is needed (if anybody actually is as interested in this thing as TCM is) is a multi-season look at team performance on Sunday to confirm whether this thing is really a thing. Also, some kind of lineup analysis that is far beyond TCM’s capability needs to happen to see whether, indeed, the phenomenon of the Sunday lineup is as widespread as it is in the popular mind. Maybe, given that teams only tend to carry 4-5 guys on their bench these days, the effects of the Sunday lineup is diluted even further. The Common Man is not sure this brings us any closer to an answer, but it does raise an interesting question about how teams are allocating and should allocate their regular starters’ days off.