One of the mantras Reds manager Dusty Baker has instilled in his team is the importance of winning every series. With yesterday’s 6-5 win in comeback fashion, it sets Baker’s theory. Call it “buying in” if you wish, but the truth of the matter is this: winning series leads to winning baseball. I know that seems way too obvious, and even cliche’ to state, but in looking over the entire 2012 season, it is more important than we might realize.
In scanning the Reds 2012 schedule, they play a total of 52 series. Here’s the breakdown of those series:
2-game series: 2
3-game series: 42
4-game series: 8
In the first proposed scenario, let’s say the Reds win every series. They win the 2-game series in sweeps and the 4-game series by a 3-1 margin while taking every 3-game series in a 2-1 fashion. At that rate…
2-game series: 4-0
3-game series: 84-42
4-game series: 24-8
TOTAL RECORD: 112-50
History dictates this would be one of the best seasons ever. The last team to top 110 wins was the 2001 Seattle Mariners with 116 wins, a record tying feat with the 1906 Chicago Cubs. (The Cubs hold the record for highest winning percentage (.762) as they played in 152 games with two rain outs). In fact, 112 wins would rank as the fourth highest win total in history. Only the aforementioned Mariners and Cubs teams plus the 1998 Yankees (114) would own more.
So…we can, for history’s sake, take down a few wins, if for anything, this little study. Let’s still take winning all the three game series, but split all the 2-game (1-1) and 4-game series (2-2).
2-game series: 2-2
3-game series: 84-42
4-game series: 16-16
TOTAL RECORD: 102-60
Still 100 wins…and most likely, dare I say it, the best record in baseball. Looking over the past five seasons, one team has duplicated that record of 102-60 (the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies) and one team has actually topped it. (The 2009 New York Yankees were 103-59.) Both sat atop the baseball world as far as record was concerned. I’d say chances are pretty good.
But herein lies a potential pitfall. In the last five seasons, the team with baseball’s best overall record has won only 2 of 5 World Series titles. Those ’09 Yankees and the ’07 Boston Red Sox. Both are, obviously, AL teams.
History is a little more grim for the NL. The last team to post the NL’s best record to reach the World Series was the ’04 St. Louis Cardinals (105-57). They were beaten by the Red Sox in the Fall Classic.
Oh, there’s more.
The last team to own the NL’s best regular season record AND win the World Series: the 1995 Atlanta Braves. In that season, the Braves swept the Reds in the NLCS. On two other occasions (’96 and ’99), the Braves mustered the NL’s best record, but were subdued in the World Series. Ironically, the Yankees got them both times.
The irony is now oozing. Imagine this. The Reds post the NL’s best record, run to the World Series and win it all. Seventeen years after being swept by the last NL team to accomplish this feat.
Yes, the marathon that is a baseball season will most likely see the Reds sweep a series or two and maybe even be swept (gasp!). With the addition of a second wild card team, you don’t want to leave your season to chance being a wild card. Winning series will lead to winning the division.
So winning series is of great importance…especially in the postseason.