It's good times for Reds, White Sox By Rob Neyer
Two teams in the Midwest are off to great starts. One is a big surprise, one not so much. I'm referring, of course, to the Kent State Golden Flashes (27-14 overall) and the Kutztown Bears (15-5 in the PSAC).
Oh, and there are the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox, too. Both teams set franchise records for April wins, which is impressive ... if not quite as impressive as we've been led to believe. These days, the season begins on the first Sunday in April, but in past seasons it usually didn't start until the second week in April, or even (way back when) until the third. What makes more sense, if we're looking for some sort of historical relevance, is to compare games to games rather than Aprils to Aprils.
The Reds have played 25 games this season and won 17. Going back 30 seasons, this is one of the franchise's five best 25-game starts. In 2002, the Reds won 16 of their first 25 games; they finished 78-84, good enough for third place in the NL Central. In 1987 and again in 1994, they won 17 of their first 25 games. In '87 they finished 84-78, six games behind the first-place Giants in the old NL West. When the strike hit in '94 they were 66-48, tops in the Central. In 1990, the Reds won 19 of their first 25 games and wound up winning the World Series.
So no, this isn't the Reds' best start, not even of the past few decades. But it's obviously one of their better starts, and it does suggest that this team is going to be better than we thought. I wrote some unflattering things about new general manager Wayne Krivsky a few weeks ago, but since then he's had the good sense to (1) acquire Brandon Phillips, and (2) de-acquire Tony Womack (whom the old GM, Dan O'Brien, acquired in the first place). There's still no reason for outfielder Chris Denorfia to be batting .351 with Triple-A Louisville instead of .301 with Cincinnati. But maybe Krivsky eventually will figure that out, too.
And then there are the defending World Series champion White Sox, off to a 17-7 start. Here are the five best 24-game starts since 1976 for the reigning World Series champs:
Team First 24 Finish
1990 Athletics 18-6 103-59, 1st
1980 Pirates 17-7 83-79, 3rd
2000 Yankees 16-8 95-65, 1st
1999 Yankees 16-8 98-64, 1st
1981 Phillies 16-8 59-48, 3rd
Again, a sunny forecast. Which shouldn't come as a surprise. I'm fond of dismissing small sample sizes, and sometimes perhaps overly fond. Teams that start like gangbusters in their first month of action generally do finish well because (1) they get a head start on a good record, and (2) good teams are significantly more likely than bad teams to win a high percentage of their early (or any other set) of games. Yes, the Reds and maybe even the White Sox might be flukes (so far), but one month really does mean something, usually.
He also had Dunner's stats included in article.
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
25 9 17 25 .432 .265
Looks like we could hang around awhile.