From June 1 to the All-Star Break, the Braves were 36-14. Yesterday, cliff aptly asked: “Has the wave crested?” And a second question presents itself: if it has, is that enough?
I looked at the whole Retrosheet database for teams that had a 50 game period with a record of 36-14 or better. There are 198 such teams. That’s just a little bit over two a year, on average. Many of those teams had much better than a 36-14 run at some point, which means they had multiple overlapping 36-14 runs. The best run over 50 games was the 2017 Dodgers, who went 43-7 over one stretch.
If we look at these teams in aggregate, it is a pretty awesome bunch of teams. They averaged over 96 wins, which is even more impressive given that a fair number of them played 154 game seasons. They won 43 World Series, which would be an amazing statistic until I told you that only 17 have come after 1969 and only 10 have come in the Wild Card era.
But now let’s cut down the list to teams that never had a 50 game streak better than 36-14, consistent with the “crested wave” hypothesis. How have these teams done? First, we’ve cut the list more than in half: there are 76 teams that managed a 36-14 run at some point in the season without ever doing better than that over any 50 game stretch.
These are all still good teams. They averaged 93 wins over the whole season. 11 of them won the World Series, although only 2 won it all in the Wild Card era: the 1995 Braves and the 2007 Red Sox.
But there are some downsides. 14 of these teams played below 0.500 outside their hot streak. 30 of them missed the playoffs altogether, but the vast majority of those came before the Wild Card era. Since then, only 8 have had a 36-14 streak and failed to at least make the playoffs, most recently the 2019 proto-Guardians.
But the good news is that for most of these teams, a really hot streak is enough to pull them over the playoff finish line. But maybe not, so let’s keep the wave rolling… a little ten game win streak would do nicely, particularly with the Mets looming. Even at that point, it’s really hard to win a World Series, though, because that’s a crapshoot.