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April 7, 2011

Between The Numbers

Fun with selective endpoints!

by Colin Wyers

Did you know? Only two teams have begun the season 0-5 and made the playoffs! It's, like, math and stuff!

Okay, let's put this into some context. Going back to 1974, 68% of World Series teams had at least one five-game losing streak. If we look at all playoff teams, that number creeps up to 70 percent. (Counterintuitively enough, if you only look at World Series winners, the percentage goes up to 75%. Ah, the joys of small sample sizes.)

If you keep going down the line:

  • 39% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least six games,
  • 20% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least seven games,
  • 9% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least seven games.

The longest losing streak ever sustained by a playoff team over that timespan? The '82 Atlanta Braves lost 11 games in a row and still made it to the playoffs.

It's just that normally these sorts of streaks happen in the middle of the season, where they're a lot harder to notice. But the timing of the streaks (or even the order of the wins and losses at all) doesn't affect whether or not a team makes the playoffs, only the number of wins and losses do. Teams that have started 0-5 have dug themselves a hole, sure, but a perfectly manageable one. There's no reason for Red Sox or Rays fans to give up hope just yet. (Astros fans... there are probably plenty of reasons to give up hope just yet, but you knew about most of those before the season started.)

Colin Wyers is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Colin's other articles. You can contact Colin by clicking here

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