The St. Louis Cardinals’ 11-1 victory over the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night was their ninth win in 12 games to begin the 2012 schedule. That ties the team record for the best regular season start in the modern era, since 1900.
Previously, eight other Cardinals teams got out of the gates at 9-3. Three of the clubs went on to win over 100 games and most impressively, five of them captured the World Championship, most recently in 1982.
Another 9-3 club, in 1981, went on to tie for the second-best overall record in the National League East, but was shut out of the post-season. A strike led to unprecedented first half and second half standings used for playoff qualification, but the Cards finished in second both times.
Another key factor across these 9-3 clubs noted by researcher Tom Orf is run differential. While the 2012 club is only third among the nine with 70 runs scored (RS) and right in the middle of the pack with 36 runs allowed (RA), when you put the two together, a different story is told.
The positive run differential (RD) of 34 runs by the current team is the greatest of the nine 9-3 clubs and is double that of three of the earlier fast-start Cardinals squads. That is a strong indicator, reflecting good balance between offense and pitching, and considerable dominance in the early going.
St. Louis Cardinals, most wins, first 12 games, since 1900 (oldest to newest)
|Start Date||End Date||W-L||Pct.||RS||RA||RD||Final W-L||Rnk||Postseason|
For completeness, the best Cardinals start ever through 12 games, including pre-1900, was 10-2. This occurred three times – in 1884, 1889 and 1899. No Cardinals team has ever started a season 12-0 or even 11-1.