The second half of the 2017 MLB season begins tomorrow. Based on past history, that may be good news for the Chicago Cubs and bad news for the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the last three seasons, the Cubs have had the best cumulative record over the second half of the season. They were 133-83 (.616 winning percentage) after the All-Star break from 2014-16. The Brewers, the team ahead of the Cubs in the standings, on the other hand, were .94-119 (.441 winning percentage) after the All-Star break from 2014-16. That ranked 24th of the 30 MLB teams.
The N.L. West-leading Dodgers, who have the majors best record this season, had the second best record after the break the last three seasons… they were 121-87 (.582).
Of the other four teams currently leading their division, the Washington Nationals ranked fifth in second half winning percentage the last three years, the Cleveland Indians ranked sixth, the Red Sox ranked 15th, and the Houston Astros ranked 17th.
With pitchers and catchers reporting this week, the start of baseball in 2017 is upon us. Here’s just a small taste of some baseball analytics to get you ready for the upcoming season.
Two interesting elements of the Chicago Cubs success last season was their dominance at home (57-24) and a 15-5 record in interleague play. Let’s, however, focus on their winning ways at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs last year became the 36th team in MLB history to win 57 or more games at home in a season. They were the first team to reach 57 wins at home since the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers won 57 games at Miller Park that season.
Of the 36 teams that have reached 57 or more wins at home in a season, 23 went on to play in the World Series that year with 12 winning the championship (the Cubs became the 12th team to do so.) That means that 13 of the 36 did not reach the World Series in the season they won 57 or more games at home. The aforementioned 2011 Brewers were the last team to fail to reach the World Series in a season where they won 57 or more games at home..
Here’s a look at the 12 teams to win the World Series in the same year they won 57+ games at home.
Year, Team, Home Wins in that title season
2016 Chicago Cubs, 57
2009 New York Yankees, 57
1998 New York Yankees, 62
1975 Cincinnati Reds, 64
1970 Baltimore Orioles, 59
1961 New York Yankees, 65
1942 St. Louis Cardinals, 60
1937 New York Yankees, 57
1932 New York Yankees, 62
1930 Philadelphia A’s, 58
1929 Philadelphia A’s, 57
1927 New York Yankees, 57
The 1961 Yanks top the list with most wins at home in a season, 65. The ’75 Big Red Machine is next with 64 wins at home. Ten of the 12 teams that won 60 or more games at home in a season eventually made it to the World Series that year with only five winning that crown that year (1932 Yankees, 1942 Cardinals, 1961 Yankees, 1975 Reds and the 1998 Yankees).
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The Chicago Cubs last night got their 90th win of the season, becoming the first team to reach that number in 2016. For the Cubs, it was also the first time the franchise has won 90 games in back-to-back seasons since 1930.
Three franchises, Colorado, Miami and San Diego, have never won 90 games in back-to-back seasons. Of the other 27 MLB teams, it looks like the Kansas City Royals will now replace the Cubs as the franchise with the longest drought to having 90-win seasons in consecutive years. The Royals have not won 90 in back-to-back years since 1978 (Note: There is a slim chance the Royals will erase that this year… more on that in a minute).
Following are the longest droughts for MLB teams to win 90 games in back-to-back seasons. (Year listed is the last season they won 90 games in back-to-back seasons.)
Never: Colorado, Miami, San Diego
1978: Kansas City
1980: Washington (as the Montreal Expos)
2000: New York Mets
2004: Minnesota, San Francisco
2006: Chicago White Sox
2009: Boston, Los Angeles Angels
2012: New York Yankees
2013: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Texas
2015: Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis
2016: Chicago Cubs
Seven teams last year won 90 or more games: the Cubs, Royals, Dodgers, Mets, Pirates, Cardinals and Blue Jays. As noted above, the Cubs have already reached 90 wins this season for a back-to-back 90-win campaign. Of the other six teams, it doesn’t look like all will repeat this season. Pittsburgh will have to g0 21-1 to reach 90 wins this year… Kansas City will have to go 18-4… St. Louis will need to go 16-6… the New York Mets will have to go 15-6… Toronto will have to go 13-9… and the los Angeles Dodgers will have to go 11-11 to reach 90 wins.
When the calendar turned over to July last Friday, each of the 30 MLB teams were at or near the mid-point in their season. The sports pages showed two divisional leaders with leads of seven games or more over their closest competitor… a good sign, right?
In the last 20 seasons (since 1996), there have been 16 teams that had a divisional lead of at least seven games at the start of the day on July 1. Of those 16, how many do you think won the World Series that year? How many do you think failed to make the playoffs that year? That answer in a minute.
This year the Chicago Cubs had the biggest division lead of the six divisions with an 11-game advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. In the America League, the Texas Rangers were 8.5 games ahead of division rival Houston in the West. The other four division leaders on July 1 (Washington, San Francisco, Baltimore and Cleveland) had leads of five or six games.
So, does having a lead of seven games or more on July 1 translate to a World Series appearance? Of those 16 teams with divisional leads of seven games or more on July 1 since 1996, only three went on to play in the World Series that season; all three, however, did win the championship (Boston-2007, White Sox -2005 and the Yankees-1998). Only two of those teams (the 2007 Brewers and 2003 Mariners) had a lead of seven games or more on July 1 but did not make the playoffs that year.
Here’s a look at how well the 16 teams with a lead in their division of seven games or more on July 1 did in the post-season that season. (How big a lead they had on July 1 is noted in parenthesis.)
Won World Series
Boston, 2007 (10.5 game lead)
Chicago White Sox, 2005 (10.5)
N.Y. Yankees, 1998 (10)
Lost in the playoffs before the World Series
St. Louis, 2015 (8)
N.Y. Mets, 2006 (10.5)
St. Louis, 2005 (8.5)
N.Y. Yankees, 2004 (7.5)
Atlanta, 2002 (8.5)
Seattle, 2001 (20)
Chicago White Sox, 2000 (9.5)
St. Louis, 2000 (8.5)
Cleveland, 1999 (12.5)
Cleveland, 1998 (8.5)
Atlanta, 1998 (8.5)
Did not make the playoffs that season
Milwaukee, 2007 (7.5)
Seattle, 203 (7)
If Cubs fans are looking for some good mojo concerning their team, consider this: Of the six teams that had a division lead of 10 games or more on July 1 since 1996, three won the World Series that season.
If the Chicago Cubs can get at least one win on the road this weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers they will become the third team in the N.L Central Division to reach 95 wins in the 2015 season. This would be the first time since 1994 (when baseball went to a three-division in each league format) that three teams from one division won 95 or more games in a season.
From 1994-2014 there were 13 times when two teams from the same division won 95 games. It last happened in 2010 when the Tampa Bay Rays (96) and the New York Yankees (95) each reached the 95-win mark that year.
Here’s a look at the 13 times when two teams from the same division won 95-plus games since 1994.
1999: N.L. East (Atlanta 103, N.Y. Mets 97)
1999: N.L. Central (Houston 97, Cincinnati 96)
2002: N.L. West (Arizona 98, San Francisco 95)
1997: A.L. East (Baltimore 98, N.Y. Yankees 96)
2001: A.L. West (Seattle 116, Oakland 102)
2002: A.L. West (Oakland 103, Anaheim 99)
2003: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 101, Boston 95)
2004: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 101, Boston 98)
2005: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 95, Boston 95)
2006: A.L. Central (Minnesota 96, Detroit 95)
2008: A.L. East (Tampa Bay 97, Boston 95)
2009: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 103 Boston 95)
2010: A.L. East (Tampa Bay 96, N.Y. Yankees 95)
In eight of these 13 occasions listed above, one of the teams from that division made it to the World Series that season. Only three won the World Series that year (Anaheim 2002, Boston 2004 and N.Y. Yankees 2009). The five teams that lost in the World Series that year were Atlanta-1999, San Francisco-2002, N.Y. Yankees-2003, Detroit-2006 and Tampa Bay-2008.
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