Don’t sweep the League Championship Series… you’ll lose the World Series!

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

2006 American League Championship Series Game ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The National League and American League championship series begin this weekend as the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals face off tonight in Game One of the NLCS while the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox begin the ALCS on Saturday.

Since 1985 Major League Baseball has had a playoff format where the ALCS and NLCS are each a seven-game series with the winner advancing to the World Series. Based on the last 27 ALCS and NLCS, the series going six games seems to be the most likely scenario. Of the 54 league championship series played since 1985, 18 went six games, 16 went the full seven games, 14 went five games, and there was a four-game sweep six times.

Here’s a look at how many games the ALCS and NLCS went since 1985.

American League Championship Series
Four Games: 4 times
Five Games: 8 times
Six Games: 9 times
Seven Games: 6 times

National League Championship Series
Four Games: 2 times
Five Games: 6 times
Six Games: 9 times
Seven Games: 10 times

Here’s a couple notes of interest:

* Eight American League teams made it to the World Series since 1985 after winning the ALCS in six games. Those teams won seven of the eight World Series.

* Of the six teams that swept their opponent in the ALCS or NLCS in four games, only one won a World Series. The only World Series win after a four-game sweep in an LCS? The Atlanta Braves swept the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 in the 1995 NLCS and then won the World Series over the Cleveland Indians.

* Four times since 1985 the World Series has featured one team that swept their opponent in the league championship series versus a team that had to go seven games to make the World Series. In each of those four World Series, the team that won their LCS in seven games defeated the team that swept their foes in their LCS. Those four World Series:

1988: Oakland (4-0 sweep in ALCS) vs. L.A. Dodgers (seven-game NLCS win)… Dodgers won World Series
2006: Detroit (4-0 sweep in ALCS) vs. St. Louis (seven-game NLCS win)… Cardinals won World Series
2007: Colorado (4-0 sweep in NLCS) vs. Boston (seven-game ALCS win)… Red Sox won World Series
2012: Detroit (4-0 sweep in ALCS) vs. San Francisco (seven-game NLCS win)… Giants won World Series

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