Monthly Archives: November, 2014

SF Giants prove you can win a World Series without a league MVP front-runner

SF Giants catcher Buster Posey

SF Giants catcher Buster Posey

 

When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2012, catcher Buster Posey was the National League’s MVP. When they won the World Series this past season, Posey was the highest ranking Giant player in the MVP voting when he finished sixth (Giants outfielder Hunter Pence finished 11th, the second-highest finish for a Giants player) in the National League voting. Go back a few more years to when San Francisco won the 2010 World Series, and you’ll see that Aubrey Huff was the Giants player who finished the highest in the voting with a seventh-place finish.

What does all this mean? Well, based on past history we can see that no longer does it take a front-runner for the league MVP Award to lead his team to the World Series.

This year was the 11th time since 1990 that the World Series champion did not have a player finish in the Top 5 for the league MVP Award. Here’s a look at those 11 teams.

World Series champ, highest finish for the league MVP Award

1990: Cincinnati, Barry Larkin (7th)
1991: Minnesota, Kirby Puckett (7th)
1996 N.Y. Yankees, Mariano Rivera (tie for 12th)
1997: Florida, Moises Alou (10th)
1999: N.Y. Yankees, Derek Jeter (6th)
2000: N.Y. Yankees, Derek Jeter (10th)
2003: Florida, Juan Pierre (10th)
2005: Chicago White Sox, Paul Konerko (6th)
2010: San Francisco, Aubrey Huff (7th)
2013: Boston, Dustin Pedroia (tie for 7th)
2014: San Francisco, Buster Posey (6th)

Prior to the 1990 season, there was never a season where the World Series champion had a player finish lower than 5th in the league MVP Award balloting. In fact, from 1923 to 1989, only seven teams won the World Series with the highest player finish in the league MVP Award being third or lower. Those seven:

1989 Oakland (Dennis Eckersley, 5th); 1987 Minnesota (Kirby Puckett, 3rd); 1986 N.Y. Mets (Gary Carter, 3rd); 1981 L.A. Dodgers (Fernando Valenzuela, 5th); 1977 N.Y. Yankees (Graig Nettles, 5th); 1959 L.A. Dodgers (Wally Moon, 4th); 1928 N.Y. Yankees (Tony Lazzeri, 4th).

From 1923 to 1984 (60 seasons), 41 of the World Series champs also had the player who won the league MVP Award in their league, with another 15 World Series champs having the player who finished second in the balloting for the league honor. Since 1985, only two teams that won the World Series had the player who won the league MVP Award: Posey in 2012 for the Giants, and in 1988 when N.L. MVP Kirk Gibson led the Dodgers to a World Series title.

Is there a lesson here? Probably that it no longer takes a team with a front-runner for the league MVP to win the World Series.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

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Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots get ready to join NFL playoff elite

Brady

Some NFL experts are looking at this weekend’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots as a possible preview to this year’s Super Bowl. No doubt these two teams have been two of the best over the past two months, but whether or not they will have a rematch in February is still anyone’s guess.

One thing is for certain, if both teams make the playoffs this year, they will join some of the best franchises in NFL history. Both Green Bay and New England are the only teams to have made the NFL playoffs in each of the past five seasons. A sixth consecutive post-season appearance will put them among the league’s elite.

Since 1966 (the start of the Super Bowl era), there have been 15 teams that have made the playoffs in six or more consecutive seasons. Leading the way are the Indianapolis Colts who made the playoffs in nine straight seasons (2002-2010) and the Dallas Cowboys, who also made a post-season appearance in nine consecutive years (1975-83).

Here’s a look at the 15 franchises that have made the playoffs in six or more consecutive seasons (since 1966).

Nine straight playoff appearances: Dallas (1975-83); Indianapolis (2002-10)

Eight straight playoff appearances: Dallas (1966-73); L.A. Rams (1973-80); Pittsburgh (1972-79); San Francisco (1983-90)

Seven straight playoff appearances: Houston Oilers (1987-93); San Francisco (1972-78)

Six straight playoff appearances: Buffalo (1988-93); Dallas (1991-96); Green Bay (1993-98); Kansas City (1990-95); Minnesota (1973-78); Oakland Raiders (1972-77); Pittsburgh (1992-97)

Including the Packers and Patriots who are five-year streaks, there were 12 additional teams that made the playoffs in five straight years but failed to make it six in a row.

Of the current 32 NFL franchises, the Carolina Panthers are the only one that has not made the playoffs in two consecutive years (Note: They joined the NFL in 1995). Three franchises (Arizona, Houston Texans and the New York Jets) have not made the playoffs in three consecutive years since 1966.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

Packers Numbers Notebook: Stats from their 24-21 win over the Vikings

 

Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy

Following are a few stats you may not have known from Green Bay’s win over Minnesota.

1. The Packers are now 39-13-1 against divisional foes (Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota) in the Mike McCarthy era. They are 14-3 against the Lions, 13-4-1 against the Vikings, and 12-6 against the Bears. The Pack is 21-4-1 against these three teams at home since 2006 and 18-9 on the road. McCarthy is 6-3 on the road against each of the three teams.

2. The Pack scored first in the game for the seventh time this season in 11 games. They are 6-1 in games when they score first in 2014. Since 2006, Green Bay is 59-19-1 (.753 winning percentage) and are 25-4-1 in regular season games (.850 winning percentage) when they score first in the game.

3. Twice yesterday the Packers scored touchdowns from the one yard-line (once on an Eddie Lacy run and on a pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers). In the 14 times when the Packers have had the ball on the one yard-line since the start of last season, the Packers have scored 12 TDs, four by pass and eight by run. Lacy has seven of those TDs.

4. Jordy Nelson has now gained 1,000 or more yards receiving in three different seasons with the Packers. Donald Driver holds the team record with seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons. James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe had five such seasons. Nelson joined Greg Jennings and Antonio Freeman with three 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

5. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers had his first career TD yesterday. The Packers have now had at least two rookies score TDs in four consecutive seasons. Rookie wide receiver Davante Adams has three scores this year. Green Bay has had at least one rookie score a touchdown in every season since 2004.

6. In the previous two games the Packers had scored 42 and 30 points in the first half. Yesterday they held a 14-10 lead over Minnesota. It was the fourth game this year where the Packers had 14 or fewer points at half (they are now 2-2 in those games). In 17 games since 2013 where the Packers have had 14 or fewer points at halftime, their record is 7-9-1.

7. Eddie Lacy gained 125 yards rushing on 25 carries in the contest. It was Lacy’s third career game where he had 25 or more carries (the Pack is 2-0-1 in those games). In the 70 games since 1966 where the Packers had a running back with 25 or more carries, the team is 56-12-2 (.814 winning percentage). In the Super Bowl era (since 1966), Ahman Green leads the franchise with 15 games where he had 25-plus carries.

8. Aaron Rodgers had a pair of TD passes and reached 30 TD passes in a season for the fourth time in his career. Brett Favre holds the team record with the most 30-plus TD seasons with eight. The only other Packers QB with 30 or more TD passes in a season was Lynn Dickey. Since 2008, when Rodgers became the Packers starting QB, Drew Brees has the most 30-plus TD seasons in the league with six. Peyton Manning has had five.

9. The Packers had less than 25 points in a game for only the fourth time this season (it was their first win this season with fewer than 25 points in a game). They are 8-0 this year in games where they score 24 or more points. Since McCarthy took over the coaching chores, the Packers are 23-34 (.404 winning percentage) in games where they score fewer than 25 points.

10. Rodgers had less than 210 yards passing for only the 21st time in 107 career starts (regular season and playoffs). The Packers are 14-7 in games where Rodgers has less than 210 yards passing in a game.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

L.A. Lakers on the wrong path to a historic season

Lakers

The 2014-15 season is not even a month old, but we are starting to see glimpses of what this campaign has to offer… and for Los Angeles Lakers fans, it’s not pretty.

With a 3-10 record (as of November 21) and the 14th seed (out of 15) in the Western Conference, the Lakers, unless they can find a way to climb over some very good teams ahead of them, will be at home when the playoffs begin in late April, 2015. Missing a second consecutive playoffs would be a first for the Lakers since 1975-76 when they missed the post-season in two consecutive years. Only the San Antonio Spurs have the longest stretch in which they did not make the playoffs in two straight years, and that has never happened to the San Antonio franchise.

Here’s a look at the last time each NBA franchise missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons.

Last time franchise missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons

Never: San Antonio

1975-76: L.A. Lakers

1999-2000: Dallas

2002-03: Denver, Miami

2003-04: Chicago

2006-07: Atlanta, Boston

2008-09: Oklahoma City

2009-10: Indiana, Memphis, N.Y. Knicks

2010-11: L.A. Clippers

2011-12: Brooklyn, Golden State, Houston, Milwaukee

2012-13: Charlotte, Portland, Toronto, Washington

2013-14: Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, Utah

What may be even more historic for the Lakers, however, is having a season-ending winning percentage under .400, which is where they were last year when they finished 27-55 (a .329 winning percentage). The Lakers franchise has never had back-to-back seasons where their winning percentage was under .400. They are the only current NBA franchise that can make that claim.

To avoid this historic feat, the Lakers will need to win 33 games this year; 33-49 would give them a winning percentage of .402. With a 3-10 record to this point, the Lakers will need to figure out a way to go 30-39 the remainder of the season.

Here’s a snapshot look at the last time each franchise finished with a winning percentage under .400 in back-to-back seasons.

Never: L.A. Lakers

1974-75: Phoenix

1978-79: Boston

1982-83: Utah

1983-84: Houston

1985-86: Indiana

1988-89: San Antonio

1990-91: Miami

1997-98: Philadelphia

1998-99: Dallas

2002-03: Denver

2003-04: Chicago

2006-07: Atlanta, Portland

2007-08: Milwaukee

2008-09: Memphis, Oklahoma City

2009-10: Golden State, N.Y. Knicks

2010-11: L.A. Clippers

2011-12: Brooklyn, Toronto

2012-13: Charlotte, Cleveland, Minnesota, New Orleans, Washington

2013-14: Detroit, Orlando, Sacramento

Last season eight teams finished the season under .400: Boston, Detroit, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Utah. Only two of those eight are currently over .500 for this season… Milwaukee and Sacramento.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

How important are divisional games in the NFL?

Divisional games are a key to teams making the playoffs in the NFL

Divisional games are a key to teams making the playoffs in the NFL

They represent only six of the 16 games an NFL team plays each season, but the two games that NFL teams plays against their three divisional foes each year are important for those banking on a post-season appearance.

In 2002, the NFL went to a four-team, four-division, two-conference format for its 32 teams. Since then, there have been 144 teams that have played in the playoffs in those 12 seasons (12 playoff teams each season). Of those 144, 118 of those teams (81.9%) played over .500 in their six divisional games, meaning they lost no more than two divisional games in that season. Look at last year: Ten of the 12 playoff teams finished divisional play with records of 6-0, 5-1, 4-2 or 3-2-1 (a better-than .500 record in those games). The only two 2013 playoff teams that did not finish divisional play above .500 last year were Cincinnati at 3-3 in AFC North games, and Kansas City at 2-4 in AFC West contests.

In the last 12 playoff seasons, there were 15 teams that went 6-0 in divisional games in a season. Last year, Indianapolis was the only team to reach that mark. Here’s a look at those 15 playoff teams that went 6-0 in division games in a season since 2002.

2013: Indianapolis
2012: Denver, New England
2011: Baltimore, Green Bay
2009: Cincinnati, Indianapolis
2008: Arizona, Pittsburgh
2007: New England
2005: Indianapolis, Seattle
2004: Philadelphia
2002: Pittsburgh, Tennessee

It’s interesting to note that there was one team, the 2010 Oakland Raiders, that went undefeated (6-0) in division games in a season yet did not make the playoffs. They finished 8-8 that season.

There were 26 teams since 2002 that lost three or more divisional games in a season yet still made the playoffs that year. As mentioned above, Cincinnati and Kansas City were two such teams last season. Seven teams (Kansas City, 2013; Cincinnati, 2011; Kansas City, 2010; N.Y. Jets, 2009; Philadelphia, 2008; Jacksonville, 2007; and Dallas, 2006) each lost four games in their division that year, yet still made the playoffs.

Last year there were three teams (Dallas at 5-1; Detroit at 4-2; and Pittsburgh at 4-2) that had a winning record (above .500) in divisional games but did not make the playoffs. Of the 240 teams that did not make the playoffs from 2002-2013, only 31 of them (12.9%) finished above .500 in their divisional games.

As we head into Week #12 this weekend, there are six teams that are still undefeated within their division. They are: Atlanta (4-0), Indianapolis and Denver (each 3-0), and Detroit, Philadelphia, Arizona (each 2-0).

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp