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Another Look at How Impressive the 1984 Tigers’ 35-5 Start Was

Alright, hopefully everyone had a nice, safe holiday weekend because it’s back to business and I’m going to beat a dead horse. Unfortunately, it’s a dead horse that Tiger fans cling too, and that’s the record breaking 35-5 start that the 1984 Tigers a known for. I have yet to find a team that had a 35-5 stretch at any point in their season, so when the Tigers did it to open things up in 1984, it bordered on magical.

And when ESPN did their top 20 franchises a couple of years back (it was part of their 20th anniversary), only the 1986 Mets and the 1998 Yankees made the cut as far as baseball teams. I thought the 1984 Tigers were snubbed. They led the division wire to wire, they had a dominating playoff run and they won 104 games.

How impressive is 35-5? The Tigers were 30 games above .500 after only 40 games. I did a pretty unscientific search for teams that might have had as good of starts. I focused on some of the best teams of all time, and I’m also throwing in the great Tigers teams as another reference point. I’m also throwing in the 2005 White Sox because a lot of people felt they had a great start. I’m listing them in order of the least amount of games the team needed to hit 30 games over .500 and I’m also adding in the date and the final record of the team as a reference. If I’m missing someone, let me know. If I put them in bold, it’s because I thought it was particularly interesting (either a great team that got off to a mediocre start or just someone I wanted to highlight). Also, I apologize for the formatting. My lack of webskills are pretty apparant here.

1984 Tigers 35-5 5/24/84 104-58
1939 Yankees 40-10 6/17/39 106-45
1928 Yankees 40-10 6/12/28 101-53
1946 Red Sox 41-11 6/14/46 104-50
1912 Giants 41-11 6/21/12 103-48
2001 Mariners 42-12 6/2/2001 116-46
1955 Dodgers 42-12 6/11/55 98-55
1907 Cubs 42-12 6/21/07 107-45
1902 Pirates 42-12 7/1/02 103-36
1998 Yankees 43-13 6/6/98 114-48
1909 Pirates 44-14 6/29/09 110-42
1929 Athletics 45-15 6/25/29 104-46
1969 Orioles 47-17 6/19/69 109-53
1931 Athletics 49-19 7/1/31 107-45
1927 Yankees 50-20 7/1/27 110-44
1986 Mets 51-21 7/1/86 108-54
1970 Reds 51-21 6/27/70 102-60
1954 Indians 52-22 7/4/54 111-43
1906 Cubs 54-24 7/12/06 116-36
2005 White Sox 56-26 7/5/2005 99-63
1975 Reds 59-29 7/11/75 108-54
1961 Yankees 63-33 7/26/61 109-53
1934 Tigers 67-37 8/8/34 101-53
1935 Tigers 68-38 8/15/35 93-58
1961 Tigers 69-39 8/6/61 101-61
1915 Tigers 69-39 8/17/15 100-54
1968 Tigers 71-41 8/8/68 103-59
1909 Tigers 73-43 8/26/09 98-54
1907 Tigers 86-56 9/26/07 92-58
1945 Tigers (Never 30 Games Over .500, Finished 88-65)
1940 Tigers (Never 30 Games Over .500, Finished 90-64)
1908 Tigers (Never 30 Games Over .500, Finished 90-63)

A pretty impressive set of teams, and the Tigers sit well ahead of the bunch. The 1927 Yankees were further down the list then I would have expected. The 1955 Dodgers were highlighted because they were one of the few teams with such a nice start to not finish with 100 wins. The 1934 Tigers had the second best start that I could find (again, I didn’t look at every team for every year), and a few of the Tigers teams that won the pennant never even made it to 30 games above .500.

And if I missed a team, feel free to drop it in the comments or send it to me via email.

Dude, you didn’t have to go and look up all that stuff… I recall at the time that it happened, it was mentioned everywhere that 35-5 was a record start (I believe it was one of the early-to-mid 50’s Brooklyn Dodgers teams that was frequently mentioned as the early wins piled up back in ’84), and believe me, every time some team gets off to a nice start, and everyone is talking about how far out front they are already, 35-5 is my gold standard. No one has equaled it yet. I mentioned elsewhere about how the Braves went 19-6 in April a few years back, setting a new standard for wins in April, to which I replied with a hearty “So f-ing what?”, knowing off the top of my head that the ’84 Tigs were 18-2 at the end of April play, and would make it almost to the end of May before suffering their 6th loss.

Posted by jeff k on November 28th, 2005 at 9:44 am

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