Thanks to TC member carpengui for asking the question that led to this post...
As many of you probably know, the Braves are undefeated when scoring 5 or more runs. They are 31-0 in that scenario this year. Stretching back to last year, in fact, they have won 42 straight games when they put up a 5 spot.
All that sounds fairly impressive. But I know that I had sort of dismissed the streak as fluky and not that meaningful--after all, don't most teams win almost all of their 5-run games? I also figured that there were at least a dozen or so longer streaks in MLB history. As it turns out, I was wrong on both counts.
The Braves' streak is tied for the longest such streak in major-league history. And it puts the Braves in some extremely impressive company. According to the indispensable baseball-reference.com, here are the top 5 win streaks when scoring 5+ runs (counting multiple-season streaks):
Notice anything about those teams? You should. The presence of the 1995-1996 Braves on that list gives you a hint. Let's look at the four previous teams to win 40 or more consecutive 5-run games in more detail:
2003 Results: 91-71 (.562), won Wild Card, won World Series
2004 Results: 83-79 (.512), 3rd in NL East
1995 Results: 90-54 (.625), won NL East, won World Series
1996 Results: 96-66 (.593), won NL East, lost World Series
1988 Results: 104-58 (.642), won AL West, lost World Series
1989 Results: 99-63 (.611), won AL West, won World Series
1961 Results: 109-53 (.676), won AL, won World Series
1962 Results: 96-66 (.593), won AL, won World Series
So... yeah. Those were some good teams. Every one of the 4 teams won a World Series during at least 1 of the 2 seasons of its streak. Except for the 2004 Marlins, every season ended in a World Series berth. And it should be noted that the vast majority of the Marlins' streak took place in 2003, not 2004 (much as how most of the current Braves' streak has come in 2010).
This certainly bodes well for the Braves' chances this year, doesn't it?
Also, note that Bobby Cox has 2 of the top 5 streaks, which seems like a testament to his skills as a manager. I'm not sure what goes into a winning streak like this, but I'd guess it's some combination of 1) luck, 2) team chemistry, 3) good pitching, and 4) good tactical decisions. Obviously, Bobby didn't influence #1 and #3 too much, but I think it's fair to give him credit for #s 2 and 4. Yet another reason to appreciate him as he prepares to ride off into the sunset.
An interesting side note is that the manager of the 1961-1962 Yankees was none other than Ralph Houk, who was Bobby's manager during his brief major-league stint in the late '60s. Perhaps Bobby picked up a few tricks from Houk.
After the jump, I give the list for the longest streaks of 5-run wins in the same season.As near as I can tell, there have been 16 single-season streaks at least as long as the Braves' current 31-gamer. If the Braves win their next 5-run game, they'll enter the top 10. They need 6 more to tie the record of 37. Here's the list (the final results for each team is in parentheses):
1) 1961 Yankees-- 37 straight (won WS)
2) 1989 Brewers-- 36 straight (4th in AL East)
T3) 2003 Marlins-- 35 straight (won WS)
T3) 1983 Orioles-- 35 straight (won WS)
T3) 1973 Dodgers-- 35 straight (2nd in NL West)
T6) 2005 A's-- 33 straight (2nd in AL West)
T6) 1968 Orioles-- 33 straight (2nd in AL East)
T8) 2008 Rays-- 32 straight (lost WS)
T8) 1985 Mets-- 32 straight (2nd in NL East)
T8) 1977 Royals-- 32 straight (lost ALCS)
T11) 2010 Braves-- 31 straight (?????)
T11) 1991 White Sox-- 31 straight (2nd in AL West)
T11) 1981 Phillies-- 31 straight (lost NLDS in the weird strike-shortened split season)
T11) 1975 A's-- 31 straight (lost ALCS)
T11) 1954 Indians-- 31 straight (lost WS)
T11) 1928 Browns (now the Orioles)-- 31 straight (3rd in AL)
This list is more of a mixed bag. Half of the teams made the playoffs, and 6 more finished 2nd... but the '89 Brewers went only 81-81 and finished 4th. Still, all the teams other than the Brewers finished above .500. The '73 Dodgers (.590 winning percentage) and '85 Mets (.605) were legitimately great teams that finished just out of the playoff race. The '68 Orioles (.562), '05 A's (.543), '91 White Sox (.537) and '28 Browns (.532) were all pretty good, too. Also of note-- the 1954 Indians went 111-43, good for a .721 winning percentage, which is just ridiculous. It's kind of amazing that they were swept in the WS by the Giants.
What do you guys think of the Braves' streak? How impressed are you? What do you think helps a team have a streak like this? Are we destined to win the WS now?