The American League Championship Series (ALCS) and National League Championship Series (NLCS) are set with the Kansas City Royals facing the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS and the Chicago Cubs taking on the New York Mets in the NLCS. The Royals are the only team of the four that played in the LCS last season; they won the ALCS and then lost to the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series.
For the Blue Jays, this is their first trip to the ALCS since 1993 when they eventually won the second of their two championships. The Cubs are making their first NLCS since 2003, while the Mets last NLCS came in 2006.
While it has been 23 years since Toronto played in the ALCS, it is not the longest drought for a team playing in an LCS. The Washington Nationals franchise has not played in an LCS since 1981 when the team played in Montreal. While every team currently in the American League has been in an LCS this century, there are four teams in the National League that have not played in an LCS since 2000.
Here’s a look at the last time each MLB franchise played in an LCS.
2005: Chicago White Sox, Houston (when team was in the National League)
2008: Tampa Bay
2009: L.A. Angels
2012: N.Y. Yankees
2013: Boston, Detroit
2015: Kansas City, Toronto
1981: Washington (last made the NLCS as Montreal Expos)
1998: San Diego
2007: Arizona, Colorado
2013: L.A. Dodgers
2014: San Francisco, St. Louis
2015: Chicago Cubs, N.Y. Mets
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(Jerry Tapp is the author of the recently published book, “250 Stats Every Packers Fan Needs to Know.” It is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble)
Boston and St. Louis will begin play in the 2013 World Series on Wednesday. For the Cardinals, this will be their fourth World Series appearance since 2000; the Red Sox are playing in their third World Series this century.
Both teams won their respective LCS by winning the sixth game in the series. It was probably a good thing those LCS series didn’t go to a deciding seventh game… since 1985 when MLB went to a seven-game series in the league championship series, the Cardinals and Red Sox have lost the most LCS or World Series seventh games.
The Cards have lost four Game Sevens since 1985: the 1985 World Series, 1987 World Series, 1996 NLCS and 2012 NLCS. The Red Sox have lost three Game Sevens since ’85: 1986 World Series, 2003 ALCS and 2008 ALCS.
There have been 23 Game Sevens played in the World Series, ALCS and NLCS since 1985. Following are the teams that have lost one or more Game Sevens since that year.
Game seven losses, team, series
4: St. Louis (1985 World Series, 1987 World Series, 1996 NLCS and 2012 NLCS)
3: Boston (1986 World Series, 2003 ALCS and 2008 ALCS)
2: Cleveland (1997 World Series, 2007 ALCS)
2: New York Mets (1988 NLCS, 2006 NLCS)
2: New York Yankees (2001 World Series, 2004 ALCS)
2: Pittsburgh (1991 NLCS, 1992 NLCS)
2: San Francisco (1987 NLCS, 2002 World Series)
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The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals each have a 3-2 lead in their respective league championship series. So what are the chances that being the first team to win three games “assures” each of these teams a trip to the World Series?
Since 1985 when MLB went to a seven-game LCS in each league, there have been 54 LCS series. In 44 of those 54 series (81.5%) the first team to win three games in the series went on to win the series and advance to the World Series.
Just last season, the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead in the NLCS over the Giants. San Francisco then went on to win games 5, 6 and 7 to topple the Cards, advance to the World Series, and eventually win the World Series.
Here’s a look at the 10 LCS series since 1985 where the first team to win three games in the ALCS or NLCS did not win that all-important fourth game to make it to the World Series.
League, year, result
ALCS, 1985: Kansas City over Toronto (the Royals won games 5, 6 and 7)
ALCS, 1986: Boston over California (the Red Sox won games 5, 6 and 7)
NLCS, 1987: St. Louis over San Francisco (the Cardinals won games 6 and 7)
NLCS, 1991: Atlanta over Pittsburgh (the Braves own games 6 and 7)
NLCS, 1996: Atlanta over St. Louis (the Braves won games 5, 6 and 7)
NLCS, 2003: Florida over Chicago Cubs (the Marlins won games 5, 6 and 7)
ALCS, 2004: Boston over NY Yankees (the Red Sox won games 4, 5, 6 and 7) *
NLCS, 2004: St. Louis over Houston (the Cardinals won games 6 and 7)
ALCS, 2007: Boston over Cleveland (the Red Sox won games 5, 6 and 7)
NLCS, 2012: San Francisco over St. Louis (the Giants won games 5, 6 and 7)
* Only time in LCS history that a team has been down 3-0 and won an LCS.
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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.