Monday, August 28, 2017

World Series Winners’ Winning Percentage – Trending Downward …

There was a time when baseball’s postseason actually involved only one series.  They called it the “World Series.”  And that particular setup lasted no less than a mind-boggling 65 years.

After that, they switched things up – oh, every ten years or so.  First, there were 3 playoff games (including the World Series, that is), then 7, then 9.

So, what I’m wondering is whether that affected the quality of the teams that played in the final showdown.  In other words, if you’ve got only 2 teams competing, you’ve got a pretty good idea that those 2 will have the best records around.  If, however, you’ve got 10, what’re the chances that the World Series will actually have the best 2?

Well, let’s take a look …

1 Game (1903-1968)

Over those 65 years, the worst team to win the World Series was the Boston Red Sox, in 1916.  They were 91-63, for a winning percentage of 59%.  

This guy pitched a 14-inning complete game win in that one

3 Games (1969-1993)

In 1969, both leagues expanded to 12 teams.  With all those teams, additional playoffs actually made a ton of sense.

During these 23 years, the worst team to win it all was the 1987 Twins.  They went 85-77, for a mark of 52%.  Quite a difference.

Interestingly, the best record of all 4 teams in the playoffs that year was the Tigers, with a record of 60% - a difference of 8 percentage points and 13 whole wins.  They won only a single game those Twins.

First series where the home team won every game.
Who woulda thunk it?

7 Games (1995-2012)

More expansion.  This time, we’re going to 30 teams.  And that’s a lot. 

So, even more playoffs do make sense.  And the idea of getting the team with the 2nd best record in 3 different divisions involved makes a ton of sense as well.  

Just as an illustration …  In the 17 years the 1-wild-card-team idea ruled, 14 of those years had a wild-card team with a better record than at least one of the division leaders.  So, like I said … not a bad idea.

Oh, the worst team to win a World Series in that era?  Forgot all about that …  How about St. Louis, in 2006, with another 52% winning percentage.  

And, just like with the Twins and Tigers back in 1987, there was an 8% difference (and 14 wins) between the Cards and the best team that didn’t make it (this time that was both New York teams, the Mets and the Yanks).

9 Games

No expansion this time.  Just some lamebrain’s idea of a way to introduce some extra excitement into the game.  A play-in game.

Now, that’s fine if it’s March madness, and it’s the University of North Dakota at Hoople versus Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration.  Otherwise …

So, on with our show ...  And the award for worst WS winner goes to San Francisco, with a 54% record in 2014. Whoa – 2% better! 

And there’s no way they woulda done it without this guy

That said, we have had this silly thing going on for only 4 years.  So my guess is is that somebody’s going to take home all the silverware one of these days with a record just over .500 – say, 82-80.  

I mean, it almost that did actually happen back in 1973.  That year, the Mets made it to the Series with a measly record of 82-79.  Fortunately, they lost the A’s, though it did go to 7.