Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Team Wins

Despite the disappointing loss last night, the Cardinals are still on an astounding roll. Through last night's game, the Cards are on pace to win 108 games on the season. (Actually, 108.9, but since you can win 0.9 games....). Looking at the schedule, the Cardinals have 25 games remaining. Of those 25 games, 11 are against teams with a winning record, while the other 14 are against teams below .500. While the schedule does look as if the Cards could do a little better than the 16-9 required to reach 108 wins, we all know that the regulars are going to get a bit of rest as well. So for now, let's assume the Cards can in fact reach that win total.

Only 10 teams in major league history have won 108 or more games in a season. Most everyone is familiar with the 2001 Mariners (116 wins) and the 1998 Yankees (114 wins). Other than those two teams, the most recent to do so was the 1986 pond scum Mets with 108 wins.

If the Redbirds can get just a bit hotter - and that may be asking a lot after the 3 month run they've enjoyed - then they could reach some more rare territory in the 110 win club. That has only been done 5 times in major league history, with the most recent NL team to do so being the 1909 Pirates, winning exactly 110. The full rundown of these teams is:

Mariners, 2001, 116 wins
Cubs, 1906, 116 wins
Yankees, 1998, 114 wins
Indians, 1954, 111 wins
Pirates, 1909, 110 wins

Interesting to note that out of those 5 teams only 2 won the World Series with 2 others losing the World Series, and 1 not making it there at all. As a matter of fact, if you look at teams that won 103 or more games in the history of baseball, the odds of winning the World Series may not be as high as you would expect. 41 teams have won that many games. Of those 41 teams:

16 Won the World Series (39%)
16 Lost the World Series (39%)
5 Made the Playoffs, Missed the WS (12.2%)
4 Missed the Playoffs (9.8%)

Of course, we don't have to worry about the Cards getting knocked out of first place by the Cubs at this point. Once teams with 103 or more wins entered post-season play, the odds of winning it all get slightly better.

Winning the World Series - 43.2%
Losing the World Series - 43.2%
Missing the World Series - 13.5%

These aren't really odds, since League Championship series and Division play are very recent developments on the grand scheme of things. It's much more likely in 2004 to get knocked out of the playoffs than it was in 1993 when there was no Division Series, and it was impossible to miss the World Series before 1969 if you won the pennant. Setting that aside, however, if the Cards enter the playoffs with a (historically) 86.4% chance of going to the Series? Well, I'll take those odds.

In Cardinal history, the most wins by a team is 106 by the 1942 Cards, who won the World Series. If this year's version can just go 14-11, they'll match that mark. It's hard to imagine them not doing it at this point.

So, as Brian pointed out recently at Redbird Nation, enjoy this season - it could be the greatest regular season in Cardinal history, and likely will be the best one that all of us will see in our lifetimes.

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