Want a pennant? Get a closer!
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday
Statistically-speaking, what does a team need to do to win a pennant? While there is no definitive answer, here is some food for thought: Taking 18 different team statistical categories, in what team stats did that season’s pennant winners lead the league the year they played in the World Series? Using the last 25 major league seasons (50 pennants) when a World Series was played, here are the results:
Pennant winner led league in: Times
Team Saves 16 (11 times AL; 5 times NL)
Lowest team ERA 15 (9 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team fielding percentage 11 (3 times AL; 8 times NL)
Highest team batting average 11 (6 times AL; 5 times NL)
Highest team slugging percentage 11 (5 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team on-base percentage 10 (5 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team runs scored 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team complete games 9 (2 times AL; 7 times NL)
Most team walks (batting) 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team hits 8 (4 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team strikeouts (pitching) 6 (2 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team stolen bases 6 (3 times AL; 3 times NL)
Fewest errors (defensive) 6 (1 time AL; 5 times NL)
Most team home runs 5 (2 times AL; 3 times NL)
Most team doubles 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Fewest team walks (pitching) 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Most team triples 0
Most double plays (defensive) 0
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the last time the AL team leader in saves played against the NL team leader in saves in the World Series? Hint: The team leaders in saves for the two teams were Dennis Eckersley and Jay Howell.
Now that we know the numbers from the past 25 World Series, can we make a prediction as to who will be the opponents in this year’s World Series? In the American League, the most dominant factor was that 11 of the past 25 pennant winners led the AL in most team saves. This year’s leader as of Sept. 3? The Detroit Tigers. In the National League, the most dominant factor was the team with the highest team fielding percentage. The leader as of Sept. 3? The Philadelphia Phillies. Is there a Tigers-Phillies World Series on the horizon this year? Stay tuned.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The last time the AL and NL team leaders in saves faced off in the World Series was in 1988 when the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in the Fall Classic.