Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Importance of the Mets' 11-Game Winning Streak

Where would Bartolo Colon and the Mets be had they not won 11 straight in April?  (Al Bello/Getty Images)

With Friday night's loss to the lowly Milwaukee Brewers, the Mets have suffered five consecutive defeats to fall to 20-16 on the season.  The losing skein comes just weeks after the team matched a franchise record by winning 11 straight games.  Yet despite their recent struggles - the team has lost 11 of its last 16 contests - the Mets have remained in first place in the NL East ahead of the surging Washington Nationals, although that lead has been trimmed to half a game.

Just how important was the team's 11-game winning streak in April?  Well, it's been the only thing that's kept the team afloat since it ended.

Through 36 games, the Mets' second-longest winning streak of the season has been - get ready for this - two.  New York won back-to-back affairs when they completed a two-game sweep of the Orioles on May 5 and 6 at Citi Field, then pulled off another two-game "hot streak" on May 9 and 10 versus the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.  Other than those two instances, the Mets have followed up every win with a loss outside of their 11-game skein.

And yet, they're still in first place.

So that piqued my curiosity.  I wondered what was the longest the Mets went into each season before putting together three straight wins twice.  They've yet to do it in 2015 and the season is almost a quarter done.  In fact, the earliest the Mets can produce their second three-game winning streak of the 2015 campaign is after their 39th game.  But of course, that 39th game would be played against the MLB-leading St. Louis Cardinals, meaning the Mets might have to wait a little longer to post their second winning streak of at least three games.  So let's say the Mets don't produce their second three-gamer of the season until they've played at least 45 games.  How many Mets teams have gone further into a season without fashioning multiple three-game winning streaks, and what was their record and standing in the league or division at the time they finally did produce their second three-game skein of the season?

Below is a chart featuring the Mets teams that went at least 45 games into a season without winning three games in a row on more than one occasion.  (Note:  The 1981 strike-shortened season is not included because the year was divided into two halves.  The first-half team never won three in a row, but the second-half team posted their second three-game winning streak just eight games into the "new" season.)

Games Played at Time of Second 3-Game Win Streak
Record and Standing at Time of Second 3-Game Win Streak
Final Record and Standing
29-79, 10th of 10
40-120, 10th of 10
33-72-1, 10th of 10
53-109, 10th of 10
39-85-1, 10th of 10
50-112, 10th of 10
27-37, 9th of 10
66-95, 9th of 10
27-29, 8th of 10
73-89, 9th of 10
26-33-1, 6th of 6
63-99, 6th of 6
27-40, 6th of 6
68-94, 6th of 6
27-24, 3rd of 6
87-75, 2nd of 6
35-65, 7th of 7
59-103, 7th of 7
30-45, 4th of 5
69-75, 2nd of 5
27-34, 5th of 5
71-91, 4th of 5
29-36, 4th of 5
82-80, 3rd of 5
23-23, 4th of 5
79-83, 4th of 5
20-29, 4th of 5
74-88, 3rd of 5

If the current Mets do not produce another three-game winning streak before the season is 45 games old, they would become the 15th squad in the 54-year history of the franchise to fail to win three straight games on more than one occasion through the season's first 45 games.  But look carefully at the chart above.  Of the 14 previous teams to go that far into a season without multiple three-game winning streaks, only the 1989 squad had a winning record the second time they produced three consecutive happy recaps.  In addition, the 1968 and 1989 clubs were the only ones that weren't in last place or next-to-last at the time they finally posted their second winning streak of at least three games.  And other than the 1989 and 2001 Mets, no team that went at least 45 games into a season without two winning streaks of three or more games finished that season with a winning record.

But somehow, the 2015 Mets have managed to stay in first place despite not producing a winning streak of more than two games other than their massive 11-game skein in April.  That's how important that streak was.  None of the other 14 Mets teams that went so far into a season without multiple three-game skeins won 11 straight games prior to their second three-game winning streak of the year.  In fact, the only Mets team that won more than six straight was the 2010 club.  That squad won eight in a row in late April and was also in first place at the time of their long streak.  But by the time they produced their second streak of three or more victories, they had fallen to fourth place in the five-team NL East, even though the season was only 46 games old at the time.

There is still plenty of baseball to be played in 2015.  But the Mets have been riding on the coattails of their 11-game winning streak for nearly a month now and they've yet to string together a second streak of victories that has lasted for more than two games.

History says that Mets teams that go past their first 45 games of a season without producing multiple three-game winning streaks don't usually finish well in the league or division standings.  The current squad will have to win three straight in the next week or they're going to have to rewrite the history books that have remained unchanged for more than half a century.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Phil Groh