05/23/2014

Going streaking

[Edit.: We’re pleased to post this article by Tony Liao, graduate student at Cornell University and loyal member of the Nation.]

Fans of the movie ‘Old School’ will undoubtedly recognize the quote, where a drunken Frank the Tank (Will Ferrell) tries to convince everyone at a party to go streaking through the quad. Half a mile into his booze-hazed run, he’s spotted by his wife and her girlfriends, only to turn around and see that no one is behind him.

After watching the Reds win a thriller in 15 innings, I said to myself (for the umpteenth time this year), “well maybe that’s the game that kicks off a winning streak.” That is always what we hope for as fans. We look at the Reds record (21-24), and think, ‘hey if we can reel off four, five, maybe even six games in a row, we’re back above .500 and in striking distance of 1st place.’ We’re not hoping for one of those crazy streaks, like the Oakland A’s run (20) in Moneyball, but just a solid week where the team plays well, gets some breaks, and ends 9th innings with ‘This one belongs to the Reds!’

Of course, you know what happened after the 15-inning miraculous defense win, the Reds got blown out the next day with their ace Johnny Cueto on the mound. Baseball is funny that way. It has a mantra that warns against optimism (“Momentum is only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher”). But fans still hold out hope for a streak, and I think I can say for everyone that Redleg Nation could really use one.

The question remains, can the Reds go streaking? How often do they go streaking? What is the significance, if any, of these streaks?

I decided to check it out, so I went back a few season to see (reminisce) about the days where the Reds actually strung a few wins together.

In 2010, the Reds had three 5-game streaks (April 25-30, May 8-12, June 21-26), a 7-game streak (Aug 13-20).

In 2011, the Reds opened the season with a 5 game win streak (March 31-April 6) – remember that glorious sweep over the Brewers started by Hernandez’s walkoff? Well that team only had one more 5-game streak in them (May 13-17), and didn’t put together another streak for the rest of the season.

In 2012, the Reds had two 5-game streaks (July 31-Aug 4, Aug 10-15), three 6 game streaks (May 19-24, June 12-17, July 6-15), one 10-game streak (July 19-29), which amazingly happened without Joey Votto.

In 2013, the Reds liked them some modest streaks, and had 5 separate 4-game streaks (April 15-18, July 22-25, Aug 12-15, Sept 5-8, and Sept 16-20), one 5-game streak (May 20-25), and one 6-game streak (May 10-16).

Which brings us to 2014. If you can’t seem to put your finger on when they last went streaking, that’s because they haven’t. The longest winning streak the Reds have put together is three games in a row (April 22-24 v PIT), but came out of that stretch to get swept by the Braves in a 3-game series to give that right back.

So we come out of this with good news and bad news. The good news is of course that contrary to popular belief (or collective memory), Reds teams of previous years have been able to reel off a lot of these streaks and it also reminds us how good those 2012 and 2010 teams actually were.

The bad news is that in those years, by this date in May, those teams all already had a couple winning streaks of 4, 5, 6 games.  And the other bad news is that the team needs these streaks — 2012 demonstrates that good teams need winning streaks to create a lead in the division:

  • In 2012, the Reds first six game winning streak (May 19 to 24) took them from 1.5 games back to half a game up.
  • Their second six game win streak (June 12 to 17) stretched their lead from one game to four games.
  • Their third six game win streak (July 6 to 15) didn’t stretch their lead; they held onto their 1 game lead.
  • Despite these three streaks, the Reds were only half a game up on July 19. Even after a 10-game winning streak (Juy 19 to July 29), the Reds were only up three games.
  • The Reds lost their next game, but proceeded to win five more (July 31 to August 4; that makes 15 wins in 16 games): Reds +5.5.
  • The following week the Reds put together a five game win streak (August 10 to August 15) stretched the lead from 3.5 to 7. Finally the divsion appeared safe.

The 2014 edition has shown no real ability to go streaking. In the years that the Reds have made the playoffs, they’ve had multiple streaks of 5 or more. In the year they had the fewest streaks (two 5-gamers in 2011), the Reds missed the playoffs.

I’m still hopeful for this season, what with key players (Latos, Votto, Bruce, Cingrani) coming back from injuries, but pretty soon, the Reds will have to start streaking if they’re going to make it. I really hope that the next time they win a clutch game, when we think ‘hey that’ll get the streak started,’ it turns out to be true.

Otherwise, this whole season will feel like we’re Frank the Tank, encouraging the team to go streaking, only to look back and see that the Reds aren’t following us.

Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. Looking back at the history of winning streaks and how it correlates to Central division spot is a great concept. Really neat idea and well written article. Cheers!

  2. To streak, a team’s starting pitchers have to keep the team in the game. The Reds look to be in good shape on this account; so, the foundation at least is in place. At the other end of the spectrum, the bullpen has to air tight; and, the Reds are struggling on this account.

    With the Brewers falling back a little, I think this season in the NL Central has the potential to be a 2006 type season where the Cards staggered home just few games over .500 with the Reds and Astros both in the picture deep into the final week. But in the end, that did not count against the Cards as they went on to win the World Series.

  3. “Old School”, “Moneyball”, and Tango & Cash. Its been a Friday at the movies.
    I am afraid with this Reds offense, there won’t be much win streaking. The offense is sitting back at the frat house with Snoop Dog. I can only imagine that the Reds starting pitchers certainly feel like Will Ferrell when he is streaking and then when his wife and her friends pull up. The Reds offense isn’t following them.

  4. Very well written and researched!

  5. Yep, this year’s team has been a win one, lose one team basically all year.

    • after the 3rd series, the Reds were 3-6. So, they have been exactly .500 since that point, with no discernible streaks in either direction (outside the 6 game stretch mentioned v. Pirates, then giving those games right back against the Braves).

  6. Here is hoping we start a little streak tonight.

    Homer has had 3 “quality” starts out of the last 6. Although it is nothing to write home about, it is going in the right direction. He is due for another great start.
    Cingrani holds the Cards to a lifetime .197 average, .330 OBP, .316 Slugging and was lights out in the April 2nd home start against the Cards: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 W, 9 K.
    Leake is probably pitching the best he ever has in the month of May: 1.82 ERA, Hitters against .226/.284/.283, WHIP 1.01.

    Now if Jay is in the lineup tonight……………………

    Reds are 4 back of the Cards and 5.5 behind the struggling Brew-Crew. Never a better time to start making up some ground. Look for a big series out of BHAm, Cozart, Mes & Frazier.

    Go Reds!!

    • Hoping for Homer Bailey to get a win streak started?

      Well, good luck with that…

      • Well I know Homer has it in him, now it’s just a matter of him finding out where it’s hidden. If Bailey comes up real big tonight, it will help fade the memory of his awful start to 2014. This is as good a place as any to get on a roll.

    • A winning streak against the Cards is like a pink elephant. Let me know when you find one.

      I think I remember one last year in that September series maybe? Maybe a few series wins in 2012. But it’s been a very long time.

  7. Hernandez had the Opening Day walk-off: http://m.mlb.com/video/v13350979/.

    • Of course, that doesn’t take away from the essence or quality of the article. I just wanted to give credit where credit was due. That was a pretty depressing Opening Day until the walkoff… Turned out to be a pretty depressing rest of the season, too.

    • Sweet! Thanks for posting it.

    • Fixed – good catch. It’s easy to get the H catchers confused…

  8. Separate but related point. Your article made me reflect again on the end of 2012 and that Giants series.

    I like many others took a steep dive on the emotional roller coaster. I remember being at a wedding and listening to Cueto get hurt, and then continuing on to the bar to still see the Reds pull it out. When they ultimately lost that series, it was like a punch in the gut.

    Taking that stroll down memory lane reminds me that the Reds window may in fact be closing, and that, in hindsight, makes 2012 hurt all the more. That was easily my most favorite season of baseball in recent memory.

    Of course, if these guys do get hot and go streaking, it’ll all be forgotten. It’s so good once it hits your lips…

    • I could not accept it for a couple of days. Outside of the ’64 Phillies, one of the greatest meltdowns in the history of the Grand Old Game. I try not to think about it. If I hear the name Buster Posey, I still get sad.

    • “It’s so good once it huits your lips…”

      That one made me laugh out loud.

      I love Old School.

  9. I have no doubt the Reds are going to reel off a winning streak at some point. It’s inevitable; all good teams do.

    I just hope they can keep treading water until the time comes.

  10. Great article. Glad I’m not the only one pining for a win streak.

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