21 games down… 141 to go
The Nats are above .500 once again. This matches their best 21 game start since moving to the District. A win today against the Cubs in Chicago would give them their best 22 game start in the short history of the Washington Nationals. In 2005, they lost game 22 and dropped to 11-11. Of course, the season is young. There are still 141 games left for the Nats and it is tough to make a fair judgment on a team until about June 1, even then it is imperfect. See the 2009 Rockies.
Baseball is like the Masters in one way, you can’t win the green jacket on Thursday but you sure can lose it. Teams can’t win the pennant in April, but they sure can eliminate themselves from contention. That Nats are right where they want to be–sure they would like to have a few more victories–but it is far better than their 5-16 start last season. Not to mention, the Nationals are in the midst of an especially challenging first six weeks of the season. If we use 2009 records, the Nationals square off with winning ball clubs in 31 of the season’s first 40 games.
“The team’s had a little bit of adversity, and we’ve bounced back, which is a good sign,” Ian Desmond said. “We’re only getting better every day. I’m only getting better, the team’s only getting better, and we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
After 21 games in 2009, there were 16 teams above .500. Yes, that would leave 14 teams below .500. Of the 16 teams above .500, nine of them finished at or above .500. Of the 14 teams below .500, seven of them finished at or above .500. There were 10 teams that were 11-10 last year and only four of them finished at or above .500. The Royals were 11-10 last season and finished 65-97.
What this means is 21 games is a small sample size and only looking at 2009 is even a smaller sample size.
So I expanded the research a little bit–I looked at every team above .500 after 21 games since 2005. There have been 78 teams above .500 after 21 games and 49 of them finished at or above .500–yes, the 2005 Nationals are one of the 49 teams. There have been 72 teams below .500 and of those 72 teams, 30 of them finished at or above .500.
Here are the percentages: Since 2005… 62.8 percent of the teams above .500 after 21 games finished at or above .500. Since 2005… 41.6 percent of the teams below .500 after 21 games finished at or above .500.
What this means is 21 games is a small sample size but being above .500 is always better than being below .500.