Recently we saw two very improbable streaks in Major League Baseball. The LA Dodgers were on a near record-setting pace with a record of 92-41, a near record-breaking pace. They then proceeded to lose their next 11 straight games. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians were making history in the midst of a 22 game winning streak, the longest in American League history.
Like any sport, baseball has its fair-share of luck. However, there was very little luck involved in either of these streaks; they both got what they deserved. I took a look at some stats that are well documented enough to compare over time to put in context just how bad and good these teams were playing.
Over Cleveland’s 22 Game Winning Streak:
|Stat per Game||Indians During Streak||All-Time Record for a Season|
|Runs||6.45||6.23 (1999 Indians)|
|Hits||10.82||11.58 (1930 Phillies)|
|Home Runs||1.86||1.63 (1997 Mariners)|
|Runs Allowed||1.68||2.91 (1968 Cardinals)|
|Strikeouts||8.95||8.90 (2014 Indians)|
|Walks||1.77||1.83 (1908 Cardinals)|
|Hits Allowed||6.77||6.98 (2016 Cubs*)|
*Limited data available.
While a 22 game streak is certainly different than a 162 game season, the Indians were better during the streak at pretty much everything than any team ever has been, putting into perspective just how good of baseball they’ve been playing.
As for the Dodgers, there have been some notably all-around terrible teams over the year, and stats for who was worst in certain statistics aren’t as historically well-documented as who was best in a given stat. That being said, they’ve all-around been playing like a last place team:
|Stat per Game||Dodgers During Streak||Position This Season|
|Home Runs||0.91||2nd to Last (Giants)|
|Hits Allowed||10.00||Last (Tie with Tigers)|
So no surprise that to lose 11 straight games you have to play really bad baseball. Notably they were getting as many hits as they were allowing runs. Now, you’ll see that they still led the league in K/9 as a team during the streak. Strikeouts are a good indication of a skilled individual pitcher but not as much an indication of a good pitching team. Every game has 27 outs, you have to get them somehow. However you don’t typically see pitchers with high strikeouts have a high ERA because they don’t go deep enough in games to have as many opportunities to strike out batters.
An interesting couple of stats, the Indians and Dodgers are first and second respectively in both runs allowed and batters walked this season. The Dodgers also still lead in hits allowed; the Indians are third. While they’ve been going different directions lately both pitching staffs have been phenomenal, just one of the reasons many believe we’ll get to see a battle of these historic teams in the World Series.
Premier League Quick Takes
A quick look at all 20 teams after six games, listed by current position in standings. (Above, now former Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer)
Manchester City: There were concerns over whether Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus could coexist at the front of City’s attack, but those fears have vanished quickly. They’re both scoring at will and there is ample attacking depth behind them. Kevin De Bruyne looks more and more like the best playmaker in the League. Their questionable defense is yet to be tested.
Manchester United: Prior to a draw with Stoke last week it had been full steam ahead for the Red Devils, with an ample supply of goals from Romelu Lukaku leading the way. As dominant as United have been, they’ll be without Paul Pogba for several weeks, who looks worth his enormous transfer fee since being paired with Nemanja Matic who has fit perfectly into Jose Mourinho’s team.
Chelsea: Despite the scare of an opening day loss to Burnley, Chelsea have won four and drawn one since. New signing Alvaro Morata got his first Chelsea hat trick this weekend against Stoke and may make the Diego Costa a distant memory. They’ll be on a season-long quest to chase down the Manchesters.
Tottenham: As usual, Harry Kane forgot how to score in August but immediately remembered once the calendar turned to September. Spurs look to be getting out from under the weight of having to play home games at Wembley, but their ability to compete down the stretch in the Premier League will rest on their game frequency (depends on their Champions League performance) and on Kane staying healthy.
Liverpool: Liverpool are a strange duality of beautiful attacking play and absolutely horrendous defending and goalkeeping. It’s still puzzling why Jurgen Klopp didn’t do more in the summer transfer window to help the team’s defense, so for now they’ll have to continue rely on a steady stream of goals from Coutinho, Salah, Mane and Firmino.
Watford: Troy Deeney who? Despite their captain and club legend being sidelined with nagging injury, the Hornets are flying and find themselves in the Top 6 ahead of Arsenal. New signings Andre Gray and Richarlison are fitting right in. Watford were picked by many to go down, but they clearly have other ideas.
Arsenal: They’ve begun to recover since getting thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, and Alexandre Lacazette is settling in nicely. But Alexis Sanchez is still clearly unhappy, and the Gunners will need his best if they’re to get back into the Top 4.
Huddersfield: The Terriers got off to a flying start with wins against Palace and Newcastle, but they haven’t won since. That said, they’re currently in 8th place and a lot of credit has to be given to manager David Wagner. It will be a season-long battle for Huddersfield to survive their maiden voyage in the EPL but they’re off to a great start.
Burnley: Burnley were picked by many to get relegated this year, but following an opening-day win against defending champions Chelsea the Clarets have kept up the momentum and are currently in 9th. Striker Chris Wood looks like a great addition to a team that desperately needed more goals.
Newcastle: Despite voiced concerns from manager Rafa Benitez that he hadn’t been given the resources to sign the necessary players over the summer it’s been a solid start for Newcastle. However, they’ve had to rely on goals from unexpected places (center backs in particular) and if they can’t get production from their attackers it could be a rough season for the Magpies.
Southampton: In a similar spot to last year, Southampton are finding it difficult to score goals and are stuck in 11th place. Their next five games are against Stoke, Newcastle, West Brom, Brighton and Burnley. If they can’t score a couple goals in each of those games they could see themselves slip farther away from competing for a European spot.
West Brom: West Brom don’t score much, but they concede even less often; nothing new this year for the EPL’s most boring team. They’re currently in 12th and it’s hard to see them moving much. They’re won hope is that Jay Rodriguez can finally make it through a full season without getting hurt and can score a few goals that turn draws into wins.
Brighton: Brighton will be content with where they’re at, currently sitting 13th following a win against Newcastle. Tomer Hemed looks like he might be able to provide enough goals to keep the Seagulls up.
Everton: All the money Everton spent in the summer isn’t quite paying off as they sit 14th. Their defense has struggled, and Rooney, Sigurdsson, Klaassen and Sandro haven’t brought the offensive spark that was hoped for. Hopefully this weekend’s come from behind win against Bournemouth can be a launching pad for the Toffees.
Swansea: Last year, Paul Clement was faced with an immense task to keep the Swans in the Premier League and it is likely to be a similar story this season. One-man-team Gylfi Sigurdsson is gone, but hope rests that young Renato Sanches, brought in on loan from Bayern Munich of all places, can help fill the void left by the Icelandic start; there’s been no sign of that so far.
Stoke: Stoke made some eye-catching signings over the summer including Maxim Choupo-Moting and Jese Rodriguez. While they’ve looked flashy at times, particularly in a win over Arsenal, that’s the only win they have. Kurt Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, may be the key to Stoke staying above water until they find more goals.
Leicester: The fairy title 2015/16 season seems farther and farther away, as Leicester have only won one of their first six games. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez will have to rekindle their former magic or the Foxes could be in serious trouble.
West Ham: For the second year in a row I convinced myself that West Ham would be good. Instead, it’s been a total disaster with just one win from six games. Javier Hernandez is scoring goals, but nobody else is; meanwhile their defense is struggling and London (formerly Olympic) Stadium still doesn’t feel like a home. Manager Slaven Bilic is the odds on favorite to be the coach fired next.
Bournemouth: It’s been a rough start for the Cherries, who’ve struggled to score goals. They’re only win so far is against newly promoted Brighton and Eddie Howe will need to work some managerial magic if Bournemouth is to match their top-half appearance from last year.
Crystal Palace: The Eagles have played six games, scored zero goals, and lost all six. New manager Frank de Boer lasted only four games, and former England manager Roy Hodgson has been brought in to replace him. Palace need to turn it around quick or they could be, for all intents and purposes, relegated by Christmas.
Next week, I’ll do a similar (slightly more in-depth) run down of the puzzling NFL where I’m not confident if anyone is actually any good.