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.
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The Washington Nationals top the majors with 77 wins (through games of August 22). They are 30 games over .500 and just need to go 23-15 to finish with 100 wins this season. They are currently on pace to win 101 games this season.
In looking at the history of major league baseball, how “magical” has the 100-win season been for teams? Better stated, does a 100 or more win season equate to success in the post-season? Let’s take a look back to 1903 when MLB had its first World Series.
* Since 1903, there have been 93 teams that won 100 or more games in a season. The last 100-win team was last season when the Phillies went 102-60.
* Of those 93, 62 went on to the World Series that year. Thirty-four 100-win (or more) teams won the World Series that same season.
* In 1969, MLB went to two divisions in each league. From 1903-68, 47 teams had 100 or more wins in a season. Of those 47, 24 won the World Series that year. From 1969 to 2011, 46 teams won 100 or more games in a season; only ten of those 45 won the World Series that year.
* Since 1980, 31 teams have won 100 or more games. Four won the World Series, seven lost in the World Series, eight lost in the league championship series, nine lost in the league divisional series, and two teams (San Francisco 103 wins in 1993 and Baltimore 100 wins in 1980) did not even make the playoffs in the year they won 100 or more games.
* Since 2000, 14 teams have won 100 or more games. Only one team won the World Series, two lost in the World Series, three lost in the league championship series and eight lost in the league divisional series.
Following are the franchises that have won 100 or more games in the most seasons.
Team 100 or more win seasons
New York Yankees 19
Oakland/Philadelphia A’s 10
St. Louis Cardinals 8
San Francisco/NY Giants 7
Atlanta/Milwaukee/Boston Braves 6
Did you know? These current franchises have never had a season with 100 or more wins: Colorado, Florida, Milwaukee, San Diego, Washington, Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto. Will the Nationals come off this list?
Here’s a quick trivia question: Can you name the last team to win 100 or more games in a season and win the World Series that year?
The New York Yankees won 103 games in 2009 and won the World Series that season. Prior to that, the 1998 New York Yankees won 114 games and the title. The last National League team to win 100 or more games in a season and the World Series that year were the 1986 Mets who won 108 games.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
We’re not even to the midway point of the 2012 season, but that won’t prevent us from trying to analyze the 2012 season and what is going wrong with the Brewers.
Obviously the team has not played up to its capabilities (and the expectations that people had for them based on last year’s playoff run). The decline in play can be traced to several factors: the free agency loss of Prince Fielder, the season-long slump of Rickie Weeks, the slow start of free agent Aramis Ramirez, an inconsistent bullpen, and injuries to three Opening-Day starters (Lucroy, Gonzalez and Gamel). We can only hope that Shaun Marcum missing a turn in the rotation due to tightness in his elbow is not more than a one-time issue.
The season is obviously not over, and with 95 games left on the schedule the Brewers certainly have time to make up the seven-and-half game deficit they face in the NL Central. They have yet to string together a long streak of victories (the longest win streak this season has only been four games) and have been fortunate to not have a losing streak longer than four games.
That having all been said, there are still concerns from the Brewer faithful. The team has a 31-36 record (.463 winning percentage). When you compare it to the .593 winning percentage of last season, that is a .130 decline over last year. If the season ended today, that would be the second largest one-season decline in Brewers history.
Here’s a look at the largest one-season declines in team history.
Greatest one-year decline in win pct. in Brewers history
1992 (.568) to 1993 (.426) .142 decline
1983 (.537) to 1984 (.416) .121 decline
2001 (.420) to 2002 (.346) .074 decline
2008 (.556) to 2009 (.494) .062 decline
1979 (.590) to 1980 (.531) .059 decline
Looking at each of the five biggest declines above, a few of them involved managerial changes. It’s doubtful that ownership with make a change in managers, but it is interesting to note that drops of this magnitude do signal changes.
The Brewers .130 point drop in their winning percentage over last year is not the largest drop in the majors. In fact, the Philadelphia Phillies have seen a much larger decline in their winning percentage over the 2011 season. The Phils, who won 63 percent of their games in 2011, are at .456, a decline of .174 percentage points.
Following are the biggest drops in winning percentage from last season (through games of June 18).
Team, 2011 win pct./2012 win pct, Difference
Philadelphia: .630/.456 .174 decline
Milwaukee: .593/.463 .130 decline
Detroit: .586/.485 .101 decline
Chicago Cubs: .438/.343 .095 decline
Arizona: .580/.493 .087 decline
San Diego: .438/.353 .085 decline
Colorado: .451/.385 .066 decline
Boston: .556/.500 .056 decline
St. Louis: .556/.507 .049 decline
It’s interesting to note that the four teams that played in the National League playoffs last year (Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Arizona and St. Louis) are each on the list above. Add in Detroit, which played in the American League playoffs in 2011, and we have five of the eight playoffs teams from last year having a winning percentage decline of 049 or more points as of June 18.
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“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday.
1. In the 25 years of the seven-game League Championship Series (50 different series; 25 in the A.L. and 25 in the N.L.), there has been a four-game sweep only five times. The series has gone five games 14 times; six games 17 times; and the full seven-game series 14 times.
2. The last team to win back-to-back LCS was the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and 2009. The last A.L. team to win back-to-back LCS? The New York Yankees who won four straight LCS from 1998 to 2001. (The Texas Rangers have a chance to repeat if they win this year’s A.L. LCS.) The last team to lose back-to-back LCS were the L.A. Dodgers, who lost to the Phils in 2008 and 2009. The last A.L. team to lose back-to-back LCS? The Seattle Mariners who lost to the Yanks in 2000 and 2001.
3. The Wild Card has been a part of postseason baseball since 1995. In those 16 playoffs, the Wild Card team has made it to the LCS nine times in the American League and eight times in the National League.
4. The Washington Nationals have the longest drought to the LCS. The last time the Nationals franchise played in an LCS was the National League LCS in 1981 when they were the Montreal Expos. Seven other teams have not played in an LCS in this century: Milwaukee (last appearance 1982), Kansas City (1985), Pittsburgh (1992), Toronto (1993), Cincinnati (1995), Baltimore (1997), San Diego (1998).
5. The Yankees have played in the most LCS (since it was instituted in 1969) with 14. Oakland and Atlanta have each played in 11; Baltimore, Boston, L.A. Dodgers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis have played in nine.
6. Not surprisingly the Yankees have also won the most LCS with 11. Pittsburgh has lost the most LCS, 7.
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday
Statistically-speaking, what does a team need to do to win a pennant? While there is no definitive answer, here is some food for thought: Taking 18 different team statistical categories, in what team stats did that season’s pennant winners lead the league the year they played in the World Series? Using the last 25 major league seasons (50 pennants) when a World Series was played, here are the results:
Pennant winner led league in: Times
Lowest team ERA 15 (9 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team fielding percentage 11 (3 times AL; 8 times NL)
Highest team batting average 11 (6 times AL; 5 times NL)
Highest team slugging percentage 11 (5 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team on-base percentage 10 (5 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team runs scored 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team complete games 9 (2 times AL; 7 times NL)
Most team walks (batting) 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team hits 8 (4 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team strikeouts (pitching) 6 (2 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team stolen bases 6 (3 times AL; 3 times NL)
Fewest errors (defensive) 6 (1 time AL; 5 times NL)
Most team home runs 5 (2 times AL; 3 times NL)
Most team doubles 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Fewest team walks (pitching) 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Most team triples 0
Most double plays (defensive) 0
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the last time the AL team leader in saves played against the NL team leader in saves in the World Series? Hint: The team leaders in saves for the two teams were Dennis Eckersley and Jay Howell.
Now that we know the numbers from the past 25 World Series, can we make a prediction as to who will be the opponents in this year’s World Series? In the American League, the most dominant factor was that 11 of the past 25 pennant winners led the AL in most team saves. This year’s leader as of Sept. 3? The Detroit Tigers. In the National League, the most dominant factor was the team with the highest team fielding percentage. The leader as of Sept. 3? The Philadelphia Phillies. Is there a Tigers-Phillies World Series on the horizon this year? Stay tuned.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The last time the AL and NL team leaders in saves faced off in the World Series was in 1988 when the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in the Fall Classic.