Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
What’s interesting about the Dodgers run to the playoffs this season is that the team has shot to the top of their division without playing well within their division. The Dodgers are 23-27 (a .460 winning percentage) against division foes this year. What has helped has been solid performances against those teams outside their division; they are 22-11 against NL East teams, 19-8 against NL Central opponents, and 12-8 in interleague play.
Usually, teams that win divisional title don’t play under .500 within their division. In fact, since 1969 when baseball went from playing with no divisions within each league to two divisions per league (and eventually three divisions in each league which is the current format), only a handful of teams have won a division title after playing under .500 within their own division.
Here’s a look at those teams;
1974 Pittsburgh Pirates: Won the N.L. East with a 44-46 record versus division foes. Were 44-28 against N.L. West opponents.
1994 Texas Rangers: Won the A.L. West with an 8-22 record versus division foes. Were 21-20 against A.L. East opponents and 23-20 against A.L, Central teams. (Note: This was a strike-shortened season.)
1996 Texas Rangers: Won the A.L. West with an 18-21 record versus division foes. Were 42-20 against A.L. East opponents and 30-31 against A.L. Central teams.
2006 St. Louis Cardinals: Won the N.L. Central with a 39-42 record versus division foes. Were 16-15 against N.L. East opponents and 23-11 against N.L. West teams.
In addition, three teams played exactly .500 within their division and won division titles. The three: the 1972 Detroit Tigers (won the A.L. East with a 42-42 record against division teams and were 44-28 against the A.L. West); the 1983 Los Angeles Dodgers (won the N.L. West with a 45-45 record against N.L. West teams and were 46-26 against N.L. East teams); and the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks (won the N.L. West with a 36-36 record against division teams and were 24-9 against the N.L. East and 22-20 against the N.L. Central).
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That is part of the fun of the NFL draft… did those players chosen in the first-round deserve to be chosen that high? Did their NFL career warrant that selection?
With that in mind, here’s a quick look at one way to evaluate previous drafts. Following are those drafts that had the most first-round draft choices who eventually were elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.
First-Round Selection Hall of Famers, Draft Year, Players
6… 1983: John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Darrell Green
4… 1952: Les Richter, Ollie Matson, Hugh McElhenny, Frank Gifford
4… 1957: Paul Hornung, Len Dawson, Jim Brown, Jim Parker
4… 1961: Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Herb Adderly, Bob Lilly
4… 1964: Bob Brown, Charley Taylor, Carl Eller, Paul Warfield
4… 1967: Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page, Gene Upshaw
4… 1989: Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders
3… 1965: Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Joe Namath
3… 1969: O.J. Simpson, Joe Greene, Roger Wehrli
3… 1978: Earl Campbell, James Lofton, Ozzie Newsome
3… 1985: Bruce Smith, Chris Doleman, Jerry Rice
While the 1983 draft had the most first-rounders that ended up in Canton, you can make a case that the 1989 draft had the most impressive first five selections. In that draft, four of the first five selections made the Hall of Fame (Aikman No. 1, Sanders No. 3, Thomas No. 4, and Sanders No. 5) The only Top 5 selection from that draft not in the Hall? Tony Mandarich.
For another angle, let’s look at the 73 players selected to the Hall of Fame since 2000. In the last 14 Hall of Fame classes, 39 (53.4 percent) were first-round picks in the NFL draft. Here’s a breakdown of where the last 73 Hall of Famers elected were drafted in the NFL draft.
First Round: 39
Second Round: 9
Third Round: 7
Fourth Round: 2
Fifth Round: 1
Sixth Round or later: 7
Undrafted: 4 (Jack Butler, John Randle, Emmitt Thomas, Warren Moon)
Drafted in the Supplemental Draft: 2 (Steve Young, Cris Carter)
No NFL draft: 2 (Benny Friedman, Fritz Pollard)
Here’s another quick stat… of the Hall of Famers elected since 2000, here are the players who were drafted with the lowest picks.
Pick, Round, Player
#245 (18th Round) Chris Hanburger
#203 (8th Round) Richard Dent
#192 (7th Round) Shannon Sharpe
#182 (7th Round) Rayfield Wright
#105 (4th Round) Harry Carson
#102 (13th Round) Nick Buoniconti
Did you know? Of the 73 players selected to the NFL Hall of Fame since 2000, four were the No. 1 overall pick in the draft: Bruce Smith (1985), Aikman (1989), John Elway (1983) and Ron Yary (1968).
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