55 Wins through 100; Now what?

The Reds have now played 100 games in 2010, and have won 55 of them.  10 games over .500, and as of this writing, tied for first place in the NL Central.

To Redleg fans starved for success, these are wonderful things to read and write.  For history buffs like me, it's also an opportunity to look back at other iterations of our favorite team who were in a similar position at the 100 game mark.

As any financial advisor will tell you, past performance does not guarantee future results.  But some interesting things have popped out of the history books...

For starters, if you're reading this blog, there's a pretty good chance that the last time the Reds had won between 54 and 56 games through 100, you were not born yet.

Let's drop a quick data table in here, and then we'll look at a couple other possible conclusions:

Year

Record through 100 games

Final Record

Playoffs?

Final NL Rank

1969

55-45

89-73

No

5th

1965

56-44

89-73

No

4th

1964

55-45

92-70

No

2nd

1957

56-44

80-74

No

4th

1944

55-45

89-65

No

3rd

1938

54-46

82-68

No

4th

1926

56-44

87-67

No

2nd

1925

54-46

80-73

No

3rd

1917

54-46

78-76

No

4th

1903

54-46

74-65

No

4th

Bullet point notes:

  • A team with 55 wins through 100 is on pace for 89 wins out of 162. This sample of past Reds teams held that pace fairly well, averaging a final winning percentage of .544, which would be good for 88 wins.
  • With one exception, all these data points occurred in the pre-divisional era, meaning that it was World Series or bust for the teams in each league. Unsurprisingly, it has not been the case that a Reds team with 54-56 wins through 100 has been a league topper. Parity has generally increased over time, so a 55-win team from yesteryear may actually be of weaker relative quality than one from today.
  • Perhaps of relevance to today's Wild Card era, historical Reds teams in this data set are most likely to finish with the 3rd or 4th best record in the NL. Which, consistent with current expectations, would put the Reds squarely on the playoff bubble.

Tacking philosophical for a moment, what will make this season a success? 

As a parent and as a general observer, I'm not a big fan of the "participation trophy" movement.  The reasons why aren't terribly important for this piece, but suffice it to say that society celebrates results that are less than excellent far too readily.

It may seem paradoxical, then, that in my personal opinion, the 2010 season for the Cincinnati Reds has already qualified as a successful one.

This is strictly from a fan's point of view, of course: I hope and expect that Joey Votto won't consider this a successful season until Tony LaRussa is left to wobble unsteadily from the clubhouse, at least one game short of winning the division.

From my decidedly different point of view, the purpose of the season is to entertain.  Something to pay attention to in August, games to watch, websites to read.  Friends, we are out of the abyss that has plagued the last decade.  Enjoy the gravy.

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