93-win Nationals make World Series history
Four different teams won 100 or more games in the majors in 2019: Houston, the L.A. Dodgers, the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins. When the ’19 post-season started, the common opinion and baseball wisdom had one of these four, especially either the Dodgers or the Astros, hoisting the championship trophy at the end of the World Series. In fact, many people had penciled in the Dodgers and Astros as the World Series combatants.
So much for common opinion and baseball wisdom. Of course, no one told the Washington Nationals what was supposed to happen.
The Nats, who won 93 games in the ’19 regular season, defeated the Dodgers three games to two in the National League Divisional Series and then won four road games against the Astros to win the title.
The World Series featured the 93-win Nats and the 107-win Astros, who led the majors in regular season victories this past season. That’s a 14-win disparity. In the history of the World Series, there has now been 32 times where the two teams playing in the Fall Classic had a 10-win or more disparity. The team with 10 or more regular season wins has now won the World Series in 20 of those 32 while the team with 10 or more fewer regular season wins have won 12 times, including this year’s Nationals.
This was the 10th time in World Series history that one of the teams had 14 or more regular season wins than their World Series opponent. Here are those ten times:
2019: Houston-107 wins vs. Washington-93 wins (14-win difference)
2018: Boston-108 wins vs. Los Angeles Dodgers-92 wins (16-win difference)
1998: New York Yankees-114 wins vs. San Diego-98 wins (16-win difference)
1961: New York Yankees-109 wins vs. Cincinnati-93-wins (16-win difference)
1954: Cleveland-111 wins vs. New York Giants-97-wins (14-win difference)
1944: St. Louis Cards-105 wins vs. St. Louis Browns-89 wins (16-win difference)
1932: New York Yankees-107 wins vs. Chicago Cubs-90 wins (17-win difference)
1927: New York Yankees-110 wins vs. Pittsburgh-94 wins (16-win difference)
1907: Chicago Cubs-107 wins vs. Detroit-92 wins (15-win difference)
1906: Chicago Cubs-116 wins vs. Chicago White Sox-93 wins (23-win difference)
Of the ten times listed above, in only three of those matchups did the teams with the fewer regular season wins win the World Series: the 1906 Chicago White Sox, the 1954 New York Giants, and the 2019 Washington Nationals.
One final stat: The Astros became only the eighth team in World Series history to enter the World Series with 105 or more regular season wins and then lose the World Series. The eight teams:
2019 Houston (107 wins)
2004 St. Louis (105 wins)
1969 Baltimore (109 wins)
1954 Cleveland (111 wins)
1953 Brooklyn (105 wins)
1943 St. Louis (105 wins)
1931 Philadelphia A’s (107 wins)
1906 Chicago Cubs (116 wins)
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Two stats to keep an eye on in this year’s World Series
The 2019 World Series begins tonight as the Houston Astros host the Washington Nationals, who are making the first World Series appearance in franchise history.
Here are a couple of stats to pay attention to as this series plays out.
Home Runs. This year Major League teams hit more home runs than in any other season in baseball history. There’s little doubt that the long-ball plays an important part of today’s game. Washington had 231 home runs in 2019, sixth most in the National League and 13th most in all of baseball; the Astros, on the other hand, had 288 long balls, good enough for third most in the American League and third most in the majors.
Does the number of HRs a team hits in a game make a difference in whether a team wins or loses? In 2019, teams that hit three or more home runs in a game were 635-186, a .773 winning percentage.
Here’s a breakdown of how well MLB teams did when they hit zero, one, two, three, four, and five or more HRs in a game in 2019.
Zero HRs in a game: 360-960 .273
One HR in a game: 746-855 .466
Two HRs in a game: 688-428 .616
Three HRs in a game: 370-135 .733
Four HRs in a game: 164-38 .812
Five or more HRs in a game: 101-13 .886
Looking at World Series games since 2000, these numbers are not that different. Following are the same stats for home runs hit in a game in the World Series since 2000.
Zero HRs in a game: 36-49 .424
One HR in a game: 30-38 .441
Two HRs in a game: 25-15 .625
Three HRs in a game: 10-2 .833
Four HRs in a game: 4-2 .667
Five or more HRs in a game: 1-0 1.000
Starting Pitchers going six or more innings. We have seen a shift in baseball over the past several years where teams seem to focus on making sure their starter gets five innings and then it’s time for the bullpen to take over.
In the World Series since 2000, a starting pitcher has lasted six or more innings 110 times. His team has won 68 of those games and lost 42, a .618 winning percentage.
The trend, however, seems to show less dependence on the starter getting six innings or more. From 2000-2009, starters lasting six or more innings in the World Series happened 66 times with that starter’s team going 39-25 (.609) in those games. From 2010-18, starters lasting six innings or more in the World Series happened 46 times. Those teams did, however, won at a better clip, going 29-17 (.630).
BONUS STAT. This World Series is a matchup between the 107-win Houston Astros and the 93-win Washington Nationals. That’s a 14-win difference in the two teams. This is only the 10th time in World Series history that one team in the World Series had 14 or more regular season wins more than their World Series opponent. In fact, this is the second consecutive year this has happened; last year the 108-win Boston Red Sox defeated the 92-win L.A. Dodgers in the World Series. That 16-win difference was tied for the third-most in World Series history.
The biggest win difference in World Series history? In 1906, the 116-win Chicago Cubs faced off against cross-town rivals the Chicago White Sox, who had won 93 games, a 23-win differential. It’s important to note that the 93-win White Sox won that series. Of the nine previous times where a World Series matchup featured two teams that had a 14-win regular season differential, the team with fewer wins won three times. Most recent was in 2006 when the 83-win St. Louis Cardinals beat the 97-win Detroit Tigers to win the ’06 Fall Classic.
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Washington Nationals make history
It was an itch that certainly needed to be scratched… especially for their long-suffering fans.
With their win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series, the Washington Nationals are going to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) for the first time in the history of the franchise in Washington.
As a point of historical perspective, the Nationals have been in existence since 2005. Prior to that, the franchise called Montreal home where the Expos played from 1969 to 2004. They then left Montreal for D.C. and a new start as the Nationals in ’05.
The Expos made the post-season only once in their history, losing in the NLCS three games to two in 1981. It was the first and only time the franchise had made it to the NLCS until this year, the longest drought of all franchises. In fact, of the current 30 franchises, 26 have played in either an ALCS or NLCS this century. The four teams that had not played in the ALCS or NLCS this century prior to this year were Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington.
Here’s a look at the last time each MLB team has played in the ALCS or NLCS with a chance to reach the World Series.
Chicago White Sox-2005
*At the time of this post, the ALDS series between Tampa Bay and Houston had not been decided, therefore their years may not be current
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Where are they now? World Series winning managers since 2000
You would think that winning a World Series would give a manager a certain degree of job security. Think again.
Just this year, we saw that three of the last seven managers to win a World Series are no longer with that team: Bruce Bochy, who won three titles with the Giants (2010, 2012 and 2014) retired after the 2019 season; Joe Madden, who guided the Cubs to a World Series in 2016, was fired (or better stated, his contract was not renewed) at the conclusion of this year; and, Ned Yost, who led the Royals to a championship in 2015, decided to retire after the ’19 campaign.
Here’s another take on this: Of the 15 different managers who won a World Series since 2000, only three are now still managing in the majors: Terry Francona (he won two World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007) who is now the skipper of the Cleveland Indians, and Houston manager A.J. Hinch (he won the title in 2017 with the Astros) and Boston manager Alex Cora (he won with the Red Sox last season), are still with the teams they led to the title.
Here’s a look at the World Series winning managers since 2000 and where they are now.
2000: Joe Torre, New York Yankees (last managed in 2007). Now MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer
2001: Bob Brenly, Arizona (last managed in 2004). Broadcaster
2002: Mike Scioscia, Anaheim (last managed in 2018). Stepped down after the 2018 season
2003: Jack McKeon, Florida (last managed in 2005). Retired in 2011 after a short stint as San Diego interim manager.
2004: Terry Francona, Boston (still managing… current Cleveland skipper).
2005: Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox (last managed in 2011). Broadcaster
2006: Tony LaRussa, St. Louis (last managed in 2011). Vice-President of the Boston Red Sox
2007: Terry Francona, Boston (see above-2004))
2008: Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia (last managed in 2013). Phillies hitting coach in 2019
2009: Joe Girardi, New York Yankees (last managed in 2017). Broadcaster
2010: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (last managed in 2019). Retired in 2019.
2011: Tony LaRussa, St. Louis (see above-2006)
2012: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (see above-2010)
2013: John Farrell, Boston (last managed in 2017). Broadcaster
2014: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (see above-2010)
2015: Ned Yost, Kansas City (last managed in 2019). Retired in 2019
2016: Joe Madden, Chicago Cubs (last managed in 2019). Fired/Contract not renewed in 2019
2017: A.J. Hinch, Houston (still managing the Houston Astros)
2018: Alex Cora, Boston (still managing the Boston Red Sox)
A couple of men on the above list are being mentioned as candidates for managerial openings that are (or will be) available; Girardi could wind up with the Cubs, a team he played seven seasons for in two stints. Madden, a former Angels minor leaguer, has been mentioned as a strong candidate for the Angels opening, and there has been talk that Farrell is ready to get back into the dugout as a manager.
So… stay tuned.
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Four stats you may not know about Christian Yelich’s 2019 season
The Milwaukee Brewers 2019 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Washington Nationals, but we’ll never know if things might have been different had Christian Yelich not missed the last 15 games of the season (and the Wild Card contest) due to a fractured right knee cap he sustained in a September 10 game against the Cardinals.
Yelich ended the season with a .329 batting average and had enough plate appearances at the time of his injury to qualify for the National League batting title, his second consecutive N.L. batting crown. He also had 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases. It will also be interesting to see how much support Yelich gets for the N.L. MVP Award; will missing the last 15 games of the season cost him a legit shot at a repeat MVP honor? My guess is that the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger will win the honor; he was the best player on a team that had the best record in the National League. Yelich will certainly receive a lot of support for the award and will likely finish in the Top 3.
All that being said, Yelich had a memorable 2019 campaign. Here are four stats you may not know about his 2019 season.
40-30 Player: Yelich and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. both had 40 or more HRs and 30 or more stolen bases in 2019, making them the first pair of 40-30 players in the majors since 1997. Acuna ended the year with 41 homers and 37 steals, while Yelich reached 40-30 with 44 HRs and 30 swipes. Acuna and Yelich were the first 40-30 players since Yelich’s current teammate, Ryan Braun, had 41 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 2012. (Acuna became the youngest 40-30 in MLB history at age 21.)
Acuna and Yelich became the 10th and 11th players to reach 40-30 in a season. It has been done now 13 times in baseball history with Barry Bonds and Jeff Bagwell doing it twice in their careers.
The first player with a 40-30 season? There’s another Milwaukee connection… Hank Aaron did it for the Milwaukee Braves with 44 home runs and 31 steals in 1963.
Back-to-Back Batting Titles: Yelich became the 26th player in MLB history to win back-to-back batting titles. It has now been done 12 times in the National League; the last time was Larry Walker in 1998-99. There have been 14 back-to-back batting title winners in the American League; the last time was in 2016-17 when Houston’s Jose Altuve won consecutive A.L. batting crowns.
The back-to-back batting champs: American League… Nap Lajoie, Ty Cobb, Al Simmons, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Ferris Fain, Tony Oliva, Carl Yastrzemski, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, Nomar Garciaparra, Joe Mauer, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve; National League… Honus Wagner, Jake Daubert, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Tommy Davis, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Bill Madlock, Dave Parker, Tony Gwynn, Larry Walker, Christian Yelich.
Forty or more HRs, less than 100 RBIs: Although Yelich had 44 home runs for the season, he fell short of the 100-RBI mark, finishing with 97 RBIs for the season. He became the 23rd player in MLB history to have 40 or more HRs in a season with less than 100 RBIs. Four players did it twice in their careers: Adam Dunn, Hank Aaron, Joey Gallo and Mickey Mantle.
Alfonso Soriano holds the Major League record for most home runs in a season with less than 100 RBIs with 46; he had 46 HRs and 95 RBIs in 2006. Barry Bonds in 2003 and Harmon Killebrew in 1963 each had 45 homers with less than 100 RBIs in a season; Yelich is tied with two other players with 44 homers in a season with less than 100 RBIs.
Joey Gallo holds the MLB record for fewest RBIs in a season with 40 or more home runs; in 2017 Gallo had 41 HRs and only 80 RBIs for the Texas Rangers.
The Brewers have another member of this club… former first baseman Chris Carter had 41 home runs and 94 RBIs for the Brew Crew in 2016.
Back-to-Back seasons with a .325 batting average: Yelich became the first Brewers player in team history to hit .325 in back-to-back seasons (must have had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title to be on this list). He also became the third Brewers player with enough qualifying plate appearances to have two seasons with the Brewers with a .325 or higher batting average. The others: Jeff Cirillo (1996 and 1999) and Paul Molitor (1987 and 1991).
Ty Cobb and Cap Anson hold the MLB record with 19 seasons with a .325 or higher season batting average. They are followed by Tris Speaker (14 seasons), Stan Musial (13 seasons) and Ted Williams, Eddie Collins and Honus Wagner (12 seasons each).
Most of the above players ended their careers well before 1960 (Musial ended his career in 1962). There are four players who had eight or more seasons with a .325 (or higher batting average) since 1960: Wade Boggs and Rod Carew had nine seasons each, while Albert Pujols and Tony Gwynn had eight seasons each where they hit .325 or higher in a campaign.
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