Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The L.A. Dodgers' amazing turnaround continues. The Dodgers started off the second half of the season, right after the All-Star Break, by losing 13 out of 14. They've now rebounded by winning 17 of 18 (second half game-by-game log).

Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts conveys the strangeness of it all in this essay, a brief excerpt of which follows:

Why does the best Dodger 18-game run in 107 years and best National League run in 20 years feel so unreal? ... A .533 team playing .944 ball after an .071 stretch is hard to wrap the brain around.

(I interpret "best National League run" to mean by any NL team, not the Dodgers' best run through the NL.)

On the SABR members' e-mail discussion forum, the Dodgers' recent streakiness prompted an inquiry into other abrupt turnarounds (thanks primarily to Bob Timmerman and Frank Vaccaro for their messages). Examining the longest win-only stretches followed immediately by the longest lose-only stretches (or vice-versa), the most common patterns involved stretches of around 8 or 9 games won (or lost) and then 8 or 9 lost (or won). The greatest total number of games listed, in which a team's sequence consisted only of a fairly long winning and losing streak, was 21: The 1927 Detroit Tigers won 13 straight, then lost the next 8, from August 10-31 of that year (log).

A dramatic example I recalled is that of the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers started off the season with 13 straight wins. The losing streak did not come immediately thereafter, but it wasn't long before they lost 12 straight (log).

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