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.

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