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Preview, #149: 9/14 vs. Reds

What are the odds of a losing streak like this one? Higher than you’d think.

Pair of dice showing ‘lucky seven’ Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh VanMeter - LF Ildemaro Vargas - 2B
Joey Votto - 1B Ketel Marte - CF
Eugenio Suarez - 3B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Aristides Aquino - RF Christian Walker - 1B
Tucker Barnhart - C Josh Rojas - LF
Freddy Galvis - SS Carson Kelly - C
Jose Peraza - 2B Nick Ahmed - SS
Michael Lorenzen - CF Jarrod Dyson - RF
A. DeSclafani - RHP Merrill Kelly - RHP

The Diamondbacks offense did at least score three runs yesterday, but updating from that game’s preview, that now gives then 12 runs over seven games. There hasn’t been a worse streak of offensive futility for more than eight years: in August 2011, they had an entire week when they failed to pass two runs. Over those seven games, they scored 2, 1, 2, 1, 0, 1 and 2 runs, for a total of nine. They hit .158/.236/.247 for a .483 OPS, so it was indeed a bit worse than the current run, over which time Arizona has batted .170/ .271/.251 for a .522 OPS. The 2011 team won the NL West, with the best record in the league, so this shows that any team can have a bad streak.

Indeed, you might be surprised how often contenders have six-game losing streaks. The Mets, Phillies and Cubs have all lost six in a row this year. Heck, even the all-conquering (until the post-season, anyway) Dodgers were beaten six straight in April, by the Cardinals and Brewers. If you are a .500 team, the odds are almost 3-1 on (72.5%, to be precise) that you’ll have at least one six-game losing streak, at some point over the course of the baseball season. Even if you’re a 90-win team, it’s still virtually a 50/50 bet (49.4%). Given a .500 team (which seems a reasonable assessment for Arizona!), here are the percentage odds of a losing (or winning) streak of the given length over the course of a season.

  • 7 games: 46.7%
  • 8 games: 26.6%
  • 9 games: 14.2%
  • 10 games: 7.3%
  • 11 games: 3.7%

It’s only once you get into double-digits that streaks like this become anything more than should significantly be expected, purely by chance. The current six-game losing streak for Arizona just balances out the six-game winning streak, which took place about a week earlier. Sure, a string of consecutive defeats definitely suck while they’re happening to your team. But it’s in the nature of a very long schedule - and it would be a very bad mistake to over-react to them.