Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The 7-0 Baltimore Orioles

Why talk about the Baltimore Orioles in a blog about the Pittsburgh Pirates? Well, if the Pirates can play four straight games against the "traditional opponent" Detroit Tigers--a team they last faced in the 1909 Ty Cobb vs. Honus Wagner World Series--then surely the team Pittsburgh beat in its last World Series is relevant.

How good is a 7-0 start? Pretty good. In the modern era (1901-present), the Orioles are only the 27th team to start the season 7-0. (I'm not counting the 1927 Yankees, who started the season with six wins and a tie in their first seven games. They lost the next game, so they were 6-1 in their first seven decisions.)

What does a 7-0 start imply? Every team that started the season 7-0 finished with at least a .500 record. Five teams won the World Series, two lost the World Series, and four won their division but didn't win the League Championship Series. That's good, but it's certainly not overwhelming; to date, 42% of teams starting the season 7-0 made the postseason.

So what does it mean for the Orioles? Well, the folks who predicted they'd finish last in their division are looking a little silly right now. But let's not start printing World Series tickets. Since the Brooklyn Dodgers went 7-0 in 1955 en route to the franchise's only World Series victory, only three of the fifteen teams to start 7-0 have gone on to play in the Series.

Here's the full list. The Pirates and the Indians are the only teams to have started 7-0 more than once but not made the postseason when they have. Of the original 16 American and National League franchises, the Red Sox and Senators/Twins have never started 7-0. 

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