This year’s version of the St. Louis Cardinals has an unusually low quantity of both winning and losing streaks.
Most St. Louis Cardinals fans would agree that the 2010 club has yet to reach its potential. Missing 2/5 of their rotation as well as featuring an inconsistent offense seems to have come together to limit the team from breaking off a long stretch of playing good old winning baseball.
The data, provided upon request by researcher Tom Orf, supports the feeling. So far, this year’s team has only three stretches of three or more consecutive victories and just one winning streak of more than three games, five. They are listed below as “2010 YTD,” or year to date.
Though we are currently only 45 percent of the way through the season, fractional streaks are impossible. Therefore, the current pace would put the Cardinals at six winning streaks at the end of the campaign, denoted below as “2010 Proj,” projected.
If 2010 would conclude in that manner, it would be the season with the fewest number of winning streaks of three or more games in the Tony La Russa era, which began in 1996.
The common thread among the three prior years with the least winning streaks, 1997 with seven and 1999 and 2003 with eight, is that the Cardinals failed to make the playoffs each season.
Winning streaks of three or more games, St. Louis Cardinals, 1996-present
The 2001 team had a La Russa-best 11-game winning streak as well as the second-longest run at ten games.
Looking at the corresponding losing streak data leads to similar, but not identical conclusions. Current pace would lead to six losing streaks of three or more games, a relatively low number.
In fact, the 100-win campaigns of 2004 and 2005 are the only La Russa-era years in which the Cardinals had fewer than six losing streaks.
Losing streaks of three or more games, St. Louis Cardinals, 1996-present
The 2007 team had La Russa’s worst losing skid, at nine consecutive games.
Putting the data together, we can see there was only one season in the last decade, 2003, in which the Cardinals had more losing streaks than winning streaks. That team stayed home in October.
Not surprisingly, in every one of La Russa’s eight playoff seasons, the team had more winning runs than losing stretches. Still, having more winning streaks than losing streaks wasn’t enough in 2007 and 2008, when the differential between the two was less than three streaks.
Further, every one of those eight playoff clubs had at least ten winning streaks of three games or more. The 2010 Cardinals are on a pace to finish with six.
Without a change in trajectory, you can draw your own conclusions how this year’s story may end.
Winning and losing streaks compared to playoff teams, Cardinals, 1996-present