Even slow starts after four games can foretell failure
How realistic should Baltimore fans be about seeing the playoffs return to Camden Yards this season? Do the defending World Series champion Giants have reason to be worried?
CAPTIONBy John Ehlke, AP
Entering Tuesday's games, nine major league teams were either 4-0, 3-0 or 3-1 and nine were either 0-4, 0-3 or 1-3.
Some of the starts could be considered surprises, including those of the Orioles (4-0), Royals (3-1), Pirates (3-1), Brewers (0-4), Giants (1-3) and Cardinals (1-3).
According to data provided by the Elias Sports Bureau, it appears you're far worse off in the Brewers', Giants' or Cardinals' position.
Since 1995, the beginning of the wild-card era, only two of the 25 teams (8%) that have started 0-4 have made the playoffs that year: the 1999 Diamondbacks (100-62) and 1995 Reds (85-59 during a season shortened by the 1994 strike). Seven of 51 teams (14%) began 0-3 and made the postseason, while 16 of 104 (15%) started 1-3 and got there.
On the other side, only 20 teams have started off 4-0 since 1995, and 12 of them (60%) have made the playoffs. Twenty-four of 54 (44%) reached the postseason after starting 3-0, while 43 of 113 (38%) did so after beginning 3-1. Incidentally, even 62 of the 187 teams (33%) that started out 2-1 got to the playoffs.
Of course, there's an obvious caveat here because we're three or four games into a 162-game season. Affirmation of how erroneous small sample sizes can be comes in the Rays' 0-3 record to start the season. The Rays lost 91 or more games the first 10 seasons of their existence, yet never began a year 0-3 before 2011.
At least in the Orioles' case, a different, larger sample size can be considered. Including their 4-0 start, the Orioles are 38-23 under new manager Buck Showalter, who took over in August.
According to The Washington Post's Dave Sheinin, over that same stretch, only the Phillies have a better record.
"So this isn't necessarily a four-day phenomenon," Sheinin writes.
However, history proves four-day phenomena can't be completely discounted.
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