Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pirates' Quest for First Winning Record Since 1992

With tonight's 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates advanced their record to 79-56. With 27 games left on the Pirates' schedule, it is a virtual certainty that they will win 82 or more games this season to clinch the franchise's first winning record (i.e., above a .500 winning percentage) after 20 straight years of losing records. I will track Pittsburgh's quest for a winning record on the following chart.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dodgers Now 42-8 in Last 50 Games

With their 5-0 victory tonight in Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Dodgers have now recorded 42 wins in their last 50 games after, unbelievably it seems, starting off the season 30-42. It is truly an amazing turnaround.

Winning this many -- or more -- times in any 50-game MLB stretch is a very rare occurrence, especially in recent decades. This online Sports Illustrated article includes charts documenting the all-time best records over 50 (and 45) games. The all-time best record over 50 contests is held by the 1906 Chicago Cubs at 45-5, followed by the 1912 New York Giants at 43-7. At 42-8, the Dodgers are tied for third-best, with the 1941 New York Yankees and 1942 St. Louis Cardinals.

According to the SI chart, only four post-1954 squads other than this year's Dodgers have won at least 40 out of 50 games: the 1975 Cincinnati Reds and 1998 New York Yankees (41-9), and the 1977 Kansas City Royals and 2001 Seattle Mariners (40-10). The Oakland A's 2001 game-by-game log at Baseball Reference appears to show them going 40-10 within multiple 50-game stretches in the season (e.g., from having a 55-49 record at one point to later having a 95-59 record), but SI doesn't list them. By examining the logs of teams that had won 100 games in a season over roughly the past 15 years, I also discovered two teams that just missed 40-10; in 2002, the A's and Atlanta Braves each had a 39-11 stretch.

Looking at the six 50-game stretches of 39-11 or better from 1998 to the present, there does not seem to be any consistent pattern in terms of when during the season the team got hot. The 1998 Yankees got hot very early in the season; after starting off 1-4, the next thing you knew they were 42-13. The 2001 Mariners also got rolling early on, building upon a 7-2 start to advance their record to 47-12. The 2002 Braves' 39-11 stretch (from 25-24 to 64-35) and the 2013 Dodgers' 42-8 spurt both were during the middle of the season. Finally, the Oakland A's two hot stretches (40-10 in 2001 and 39-11 in 2002) were both in the run-up to the end of the season.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Rarity of Braves' and Tigers' Concurrent Winning Streaks

Currently, the Atlanta Braves have won 13 straight games and the Detroit Tigers, 12 straight. Thanks to messages from Madison McEntire and Everett Cope on the SABR-L listserv, I learned of the rarity of two teams simultaneously having winning streaks of 12 games or longer. Quoting from this AP/Yahoo Sports article on the Tigers' win last night:

Coupled with a 13-game winning streak by idle Atlanta, this marks the first time in major league history that two teams have had winning streaks of at least 12 games at the same time during a season since May 16, 1884, STATS said. That was the only other time it occurred - the St. Louis Maroons had won 15 straight, the New York Gothams had taken 12 in a row.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Major League Baseball Updates

The L.A. Dodgers' hot streak has continued (see posting immediately below the current one). With their 3-2 win last night at St. Louis, the Dodgers are now 32-7 over their last 39 games. Further, the Dodgers have won their last 15 road games, one of the longest such streaks of all time. The record for consecutive road wins within a single season is 17, shared by the 1984 Tigers and 1916 Giants.

The other team featured in my previous posting, the Tampa Bay Rays, have also remained hot, albeit a little less so than the Dodgers. The Rays are 6-3 since the last posting, making them 25-6 from June 29 onward.


Also, in my previous posting, I wrote with reference to the National League West around the time the Dodgers began making their climb: "I don't know how many previous instances there have been within a division of all or most of the teams concurrently winning or losing 80% (or more) of their last 10 games, but I suspect it's pretty rare."

Well, maybe it's not as rare as I imagined. Just recently, after play on August 4, in the American League Central, here's how the teams stood after their respective last 10 games: Detroit 9-1, Cleveland 9-1, Kansas City 9-1, Minnesota 5-5, and Chicago White Sox 0-10.


From July 26-August 2, Atlanta Braves third-baseman Chris Johnson maintained a streak of getting multiple hits in each of eight straight games. Johnson was far from the record, which is 15 straight multi-hit games, but eight straight is still pretty impressive.