The Special Streaks of 2015

A streak in sports occurs when a team or player increases their performance to a higher level resulting in consecutive successes over consecutive trials. A trial could be a team’s game and success for that trial could be a win; a trial could be all plate appearances of a player for one game with success being getting at least one hit in the game.

In 2015, the NBA Golden State Warriors ran off a 24-game consecutive winning streak. This streak ranks third on the all-time NBA list for one season streaks. The LA Lakers in the 1971-72 season, featuring Hall of Famers Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, and Wilt Chamberlain, ran off a 33-game winning streak on route to a 69-13 record and the league title.

The Miami Heat had a 27-game winning streak in the 2012-13 season with a 66-16 record. The Heat went on to defeat SA Spurs in a series that went the full seven games to repeat as NBA champions. We shall see if the Warriors can duplicate the Lakers and Heat and win the 2015-16 NBA title.In 2015, the NFL Carolina Panthers started the season with 14 straight wins. In the history of the NFL there have been only three other NFL teams to do this. They are the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 2007 New England Patriots, and the 2009 Indianapolis Colts. The 2007 Patriots became the first team after the NFL expanded its regular season to sixteen games in 1978 to finish undefeated. They won the divisional and conference playoffs before losing Super Bowl XLII to the NY Giants, giving them a final record of 18–1. The 1972 Dolphins finished the regular season 14-0 and continued on to win Super Bowl VII and thus go undefeated 17-0 for the entire season. The 2009 Colts lost their last two regular season games going 14-2 for the regular season. The Colts made it to the Super Bowl but lost to the Saints.

This brings me to baseball. In 2015, there was an impressive streak achieved by the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, this streak was repeated by the Blue Jays for a second time in 2015. Surprisingly these streaks really went unnoticed by many fans. The Blue Jays had two 11-game winning streaks in 2015. The last time a MLB team had two winning streaks of at least 11 games was done by the Cleveland Indians in 1954. The Blue Jays clinched a playoff berth on September 25, 2015, their first since 1993, ending what was the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports at the time. On September 30, the team clinched the American League East Division. They went on to defeat the Rangers in the Division Series. They were eliminated from the playoffs when they lost to the Royals in game 6 of the ALCS.

This led me to comparing the 1954 Indians to the 2015 Blue Jays. Boy was I surprised at what I found. Here are their statistics:

comparing the 1954 Indians to the 2015 Blue Jays

The Formula I created to calculate a team’s Expected Win% is .000673*(RS-RA) +.5.

Using this formula:

The Expected Win% for Indians is .000673*242+.5 =.668.

The Expected Win% for Blue Jays is .000673*221+.5 = .649.

Conclusion: The Indians OVERPERFORMED; the Blue Jays UNDERPERFORMED.

The record for the longest winning streak by a Major League baseball team belongs to the 1916 New York Giants. That year the Giants had a 26-game winning streak which is the record. But, what is amazing is that prior to that streak they pulled off a 17-game winning streak. These two streaks gave the Giants a combined record of 43-0. But the most surprising fact about the 1916 Giants is there overall record in 1916 was 86-66 with 597 RS and 504 RA. This means if we take away their two streaks their record would be a dismal 43-66. Their actual Win% was .566 and their expected Win% was .000673*(597-504) +.5 = .563.

These three teams need to be examined using sabermetrics to explain their strange results

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