Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The St. Louis Cardinals took the first step in reserving a spot in this year’s World Series with a 13-inning win over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night in the first game of their National League Championship Series. The Tigers and Red Sox face off in Game One tonight in the ALCS.
Predicting which team will win an LCS series is a not an easy task. It may, however, be a little easier to predict which team will win a game in the ALCS and NLCS. Here’s a look at nine different “box score” stats and how often teams won an LCS game when those stats ended up in their favor. For the sake of this article, I’ve looked at the last three years of ALCS and NLCS games (from 2010-2012). That’s 35 games.
Score first: The team that scored first in an LCS game from 2010-12 was 24-11 (.686 winning percentage).
Home field advantage: Home teams were 21-14 (.600 winning percentage) in the last three years of ALCS and NLCS play.
Score three-plus runs in an inning: Teams that scored three or more runs in an inning won 22 and lost seven (.759 winning percentage).
Hold opponents scoreless through three innings: Teams that held their opponents scoreless through the first three innings were 18-9 (.667 winning percentage).
Leading after six innings: Here’s an eye-opening stat… teams that were leading at the end of six innings in LCS games in the last three years were 31-2-2 (.914 winning percentage). In fact, in the NLCS, in the 19 games played since 2010, the winning team was ahead at the end of the sixth inning in 18 of those 19 games (one game was tied at the end of the sixth).
Starting pitcher last six-plus innings: Teams that had their starters last six-plus innings were 18-14 (.563 winning percentage)
Hit a home run: Teams that hit one or more home runs in an LCS game were 26-18 (.591 winning percentage).
Outhit the opposition: Teams that had more hits than their opponents in the game were 29-5-1 (.843 winning percentage).
Errorless game: Teams that did not commit an error in an LCS game from 2010-12 were 26-10 (.722 winning percentage). This stat was especially highlighted in the NLCS where teams were 16-2 in games where they did not commit an error.
So what’s the takeaway from these stats? Make sure you have the lead after six innings; outhit your opponents; don’t commit any errors; and have a big inning (three or more runs). That gives LCS teams the highest probability of winning. Keep an eye on the LCS games this week and see if some of these stats come into play.
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“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday.
Over the history of the American League Championship Series and the National League Championship Series, there have been many memorable moments and many memorable performances. Some of those performances have come from players who are currently enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Included in that group are seven Hall of Famers who were LCS MVPs in their career: Willie Stargell, Ozzie Smith, George Brett, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Kirby Puckett and Roberto Alomar.
Of the 65 players, however, who have received an LCS MVP honor, there have been a few players who were the unexpected stars of the series; players who, if you would have set odds at the beginning of the series on the possibility of them winning the ALCS or NLCS MVP, would not have received much consideration.
Here are my choices for the six most unlikely LCS MVPs. Let the debate begin…
1. Eddie Perez, Atlanta, 1999. Known as a defensive standout, Perez took over as the Braves starting catcher when Javy Lopez was injured in late July. He batted .249 with 30 RBI in 107 games. In the NLCS, Perez collected 10 hits in six games and batted .500 for the NLCS with two home runs and five RBIs. He had only one hit in eight at-bats in the World Series. He had a career .253 batting average in 564 games.
2. Sterling Hitchcock, San Diego, 1998. A left-handed pitcher, Hitchcock had a very average career with 74 win and 76 losses and a 4.80 ERA. In 1998, he had a 9-7 record. In the NLCS, however, Hitchcock pitched two games against the Braves, winning both. He compiled a 0.90 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 10 innings of work. He got a no decision in one game of work in the ’98 World Series. He won Game Five of the 2001 World Series as a member of the New York Yankees.
3. Craig Counsell, Arizona, 2001. A two-time World Champion with the Marlins and Diamondbacks, Counsell is probably best known for scoring the winning run for Florida in Game Seven of the the 1997 World Series. A career .255 hitter, Counsell hit .275 in 141 games with Arizona during the 2001 regular season. In the NLCS he went 8-for-21, batting .381 and scored five runs while driving in four to earn NLCS MVP. He collected only two hits in 24 at-bats in the World Series that year, although he did hit a solo HR.
4. Mike Devereaux, Atlanta, 1995. A fleet-footed outfielder, Devereaux was a late-August trade acquisition of the Atlanta Braves in 1995. He hit only .255 with the Braves that season, but had the game-winning RBI in Game One of the NLCS and hit a three-run HR in Game Four leading the Braves to a sweep of Cincinnati on his way to MVP honors. He had only one hit in the 1995 World Series. He was a career .254 hitter with 105 home runs.
5. Adam Kennedy, Anaheim, 2002. Kennedy proved that one great game can make you a playoff series MVP. After hitting only seven home runs in the regular season, Kennedy hit three HRs in the deciding fifth game of the ALCS as the Angels beat the Twins four games to one to make it into the 2002 Fall Classic. Kennedy hit .357 in the ALCS with all of his RBIs coming in Game Five. He hit .280 in the 2002 World Series. He is a career .272 hitter
6. Marty Barrett, Boston, 1986. The Red Sox second baseman played 10 seasons in the majors compiling a .278 career average. Not only did he win the ALCS MVP after hitting .367 in the Red Sox seven-game series win over Anaheim, he also starred in the World Series by hitting .433. In that ’86 playoffs he set a major league record with 24 hits in 14 playoff games. He was known as an excellent bunter and led the A.L. in sacrifice bunts three consecutive years. Even though he hit .367 and .433 in those two ’86 series, Barrett hit over .300 in only one season.
Did you know? Kirk Gibson, MVP of the 1984 ALCS, never played in an All-Star Game.
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.
Here’s a look at some stats that may determine who wins the National League Championship Series between division rivals the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The seven-game League Championship Series format was first instituted in 1985 in both leagues. The stats below reflect only those seven-game series between 1985-2010 (a total of 25 N.L. LCS; there was no playoffs in 1994 due to the player strike).
* Will the homefield advantage help the Brewers, who had the best home record in all of baseball in 2011? The home team has won 82 and lost 66 in the NL LCS. In 2004 LCS between the Cardinals and Astros, the home team won every game, the only time that has happened in the past 25 years.
* Teams that have scored four or more runs in a N.L. LCS since 1985 have a record of 110-39, a .738 winning percentage.
* The team that has won the series has won the first game 18 of the 25 times. The eventual N.L. LCS winner is 15-10 in Game Two… 16-9 in Game Three… 15-10 in Game Four… 14-9 in Game Five… and 14-3 in Game Six. They are undefeated in seven Game Sevens, but you knew that.
* The team that scores first in the game is 87-61, a .588 winning percentage.
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: The last time the Cardinals won a N.L. LCS was in 2006. Who was the MVP of that series? Answer at end of the blog.
* In the 10 series where one of the teams wins the first two games and takes a 2-0 lead in the series, the team with the 2-0 lead has won the series nine of those 10 times. The only time a team down 0-2 in a N.L. LCS won the series was in 1985 when the Dodgers won the first two games but then lost four in a row to the Cardinals.
* In the 15 series where the two teams were tied at 1-1 after the first two games, the team that won Game Three has won the series 11 times and lost the series four times.
* There have been 15 extra-inning games in the N.L. LCS since 1985. The home team is only 5-10 in those games. The team that eventually wins the series, however, is 12-3 in those extra inning games.
* There have been three times when a team has lost three LCS games in a series and still won the series. It happened in 1996 (Atlanta), 2003 (Florida) and 2004 (St. Louis).
* The Milwaukee are making their National League LCS debut this year. The Cardinals have played in nine N.L. LCS since 1969 compiling a record of 26-27.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan was the MVP of the 2006 N.L. LCS.