This year’s World Series will feature the team with the most regular season wins (Houston-106) against the team that barely made the playoffs as the 6th and final seed in the National League bracket (Philadelphia) with 87 wins.
The Astros’ 106 wins and Phillies’ victories 87 is the second largest difference in regular season wins (19) for World Series opponents. The largest was in 1906 when the two teams from Chicago faced off in a Windy City World Series. The 116-win Cubs took on the 93-win White Sox for that ’06 title (more on that series in a minute).
Looking at the World Series history since 1901, there has been a total of 32 World Series where the regular season win discrepancy between the two opponents was 10 victories or more (this year’s matchup will be the 33rd with a 10-win difference).
The last time this happened was in 2019 when the 107-win Houston Astros faced the 93-win Washington Nationals. What makes that series even more interesting is that the 93-win Nationals won that series. It was the third time in baseball history that a team with 14 or more fewer regular season wins than its World Series foe won the World Series; it happened in 1954 when the 97-win New York Giants defeated the 111-win Cleveland Indians, and in the 1906 series when the 93-White Sox surprised the 116-win Cubs.
Of the 32 times in World Series history when the win-difference was 10 or more victories for the Fall Classic opponents, the team with the fewer regular season wins won the World Series that year 12 times (37.5% of the World Series). Since 2000, it has happened three times: in 2019 with the Nationals over the Astros, in 2006 when the 83-win Cardinals beat the 95-win Tigers, and in 2003 when the 91-win Marlins beat the 101-win Yankees.
Up until 1969, there was only the American League and National League. There were no divisions, so only the two teams that won the A.L. and N.L. faced off in the World Series. In the 15 World Series from 1901 to 1968, there were 15 times when one World Series team won 10 or more regular season games than their opponent. The team with 10 or more fewer wins won the World Series only three of those 15 times (20%).
From 1969 to 2021, more teams qualified for the post-season with additional divisions within each league and Wild Card opportunities. During that time (1969-2021) there were 17 times when the World Series featured a team that had 10 or fewer regular season wins than their World Series opponent. Of those 17 times, the team with 10+ fewer wins won the title nine times (53%).
What will happen this year when the second-largest win difference for World Series opponents is played out with the Astros and Phillies? The Astros enter the series undefeated in this year’s postseason, while it appears the Phils are playing with house money as they have beaten three National League teams that were seeded higher than them when the playoffs started.
If history has anything to say about this seemingly “mismatched” series, you never know what can happen. The Astros have already been on the wrong side of a mismatch World Series, and it happened just three years ago. If the Phillies need any more history on their side, all they must do is look at what happened in the 1906 World Series and the trend that has developed going back to 1969.
It should make for an interesting end to the 2022 baseball season.
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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(Lesson learned… don’t go to bed with the score 3-2 in the eighth inning of the World Series!)
The Houston Astros evened the 2017 World Series at a game apiece with a come-from-behind, extra-innings, 7-6 win over the Dodgers in Game Two last night.
The Astros this season became the 10th team in MLB history to reach the World Series within four years after losing 100 games in a season. Houston lost 111 games in 2013. They are looking to become only the fourth team in baseball history to win a World Series within four years of losing 100 games.
Here’s a look at the 10 teams that lost 100 games in a season and then reached the World Series within four years of those 100 losses.
Within two years
Boston Braves, 1912: Lost 101 games in ’12… won the World Series in 1914.
Boston Red Sox, 1965: Lost 100 games in ’65… lost the World Series in 1967.
New York Mets, 1967: Lost 101 games in ’67… won the World Series in 1969.
Tampa Bay, 2006: Lost 101 games in ’06… lost the World Series in 2008.
Within three years
Atlanta Braves, 1988: Lost 106 games in ’88… lost the World Series in 1991. (Note: The Braves also lost the 1992 World Series, four years after losing 106 games in 1988.)
Detroit, 2003: Lost 119 games in ’03… lost the World Series in 2006.
Within four years
San Francisco, 1985: Lost 100 games in ‘85… lost the World Series in 1989
Cleveland, 1991: Lost 105 games in ’91… lost the World Series in 1995
Chicago Cubs, 2012: Lost 101 games in ’12… won the World Series in 2016.
Houston Astros, 2013: Lost 111 games in ’13… ??? World Series 2017.
This year’s ALCS and NLCS teams are now set… the Astros will face off against the Yankees tonight in the ALCS and the Cubs and Dodgers will play Game One on Saturday in the NLCS.
In the ALCS, the Yankees will be making their 16th ALCS appearance, most in the league since baseball went to the Championship Series format in 1969, while the Astros will be making their first-ever ALCS appearance. The Astros are the last of the 15 current A.L. franchises to play in an ALCS. Oakland (11 ALCS appearances) are second to the Yankees in most ALCS played.
In the NLCS, the Cubs will be making their third straight and fifth NLCS appearance. The Dodgers will be playing in the NLCS for the 12th time, second to the St. Louis Cardinals who have played in 13 NLCS.