Thursday, April 7, 2011
The perils of starting the season 0-5
As you might have read in this space, oh, about 24 hours ago, it might not seem like a big deal to start out a baseball season 0-4 -- but it is.
So you don't need to be an M.I.T. graduate to assume it's an even worse idea to sink to 0-5. But since many of you -- several of whom appear to be from the New England area, for some odd reason -- have been asking for an update on Wednesday's 0-4 research, here's a quick look at The Perils of 0-5:
• The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that before the Red Sox, Rays and Astros tried this trick this year, 85 previous teams since 1900 had started a season 0-5 or worse. Only two of them lived to play a postseason game -- the 1974 Pirates (88-74) and 1995 Reds (85-59). And just so you're ready, if the Red Sox, Rays and/or Astros make it six losses in a row, you can save the tweets and emails asking for another update. Both those teams actually were 0-6 before kicking it in gear. So you can wake up tomorrow and refer back to this tidbit.
• OK, here's where this gets really scary for the Red Sox and Rays. What did those '74 Pirates and '95 Reds have in common? They both played in the National League. So what does that mean? It means NO team has ever started 0-5 in the American League and made the playoffs. That's what. According to baseball-reference.com, 41 AL teams have tried to scale that mountain before this year. None succeeded.
• More on those 41 AL teams that lost their first five: None of them even finished as high as second place. And the only one in the bunch that rebounded to win 90 games or more was Kiko Garcia's 1978 Orioles (90-71).
• Finally, here's a breakdown on how the 85 teams in both leagues that were 0-5 or worse finished their season:
• Had a winning record: 20
• Finished .500: 4
• Had a losing record: 61
• Lost 100-plus games: 19
• Lost 95-plus games: 31
• Lost 90-plus games: 41
• Won 95-plus games: 0
• Won 90-plus games: 3
• Won 85-plus games: 9
On a lot of levels, this makes no sense. Seven of the eight teams that made the playoffs last year lost five in a row at least once. So remember that.
Nevertheless, we're talking about more than a century of history here. And that means that if the 2011 Red Sox or Rays come back to play in October, they won't just have to ignore history.
They'll have to make history.