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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Washington Nationals make history
It was an itch that certainly needed to be scratched… especially for their long-suffering fans.
With their win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series, the Washington Nationals are going to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) for the first time in the history of the franchise in Washington.
As a point of historical perspective, the Nationals have been in existence since 2005. Prior to that, the franchise called Montreal home where the Expos played from 1969 to 2004. They then left Montreal for D.C. and a new start as the Nationals in ’05.
The Expos made the post-season only once in their history, losing in the NLCS three games to two in 1981. It was the first and only time the franchise had made it to the NLCS until this year, the longest drought of all franchises. In fact, of the current 30 franchises, 26 have played in either an ALCS or NLCS this century. The four teams that had not played in the ALCS or NLCS this century prior to this year were Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington.
Here’s a look at the last time each MLB team has played in the ALCS or NLCS with a chance to reach the World Series.
Chicago White Sox-2005
*At the time of this post, the ALDS series between Tampa Bay and Houston had not been decided, therefore their years may not be current
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Texas Rangers skipper Ron Washington, who will be managing the American League in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, has eight of his Texas players as members of the A.L. squad. When it comes time to make pitching changes, however, he may want to think twice before inserting one of his three hurlers on the squad, Matt Harrison, Joe Nathan or Yu Darvish.
The Rangers have the worst ERA of pitchers who have thrown in the All-Star Game since 2000. Rangers hurlers have given up five earned runs in 2.2 innings of work for a 16.88 ERA. The A.L. lost last year’s game, 5-1, and Texas pitcher C.J. Wilson was credited with the loss after giving up three earned runs in an inning of work.
Considering that the Tampa Bay staff has a 0.00 in five innings of work since 2000, Washington may want to call upon the Ray’s David Price or Fernando Rodney for a little work on Tuesday.
On the National League side, the Colorado Rockies have the best ERA at 0.00 in nine innings of work. The Washington Nationals have the worst ERA at 9.00, but it should be noted that the only two N.L. victories since 2000 have been won by pitchers from the Nationals… Tyler Clippard last year, and Matt Capps in 2010. Both pitchers worked only one-third of an inning in their victories.
Following are the ERAs of each team’s pitching staffs in the All-Star Game since 2000.
National League, ERA (innings pitched)
Colorado 0.00 (7)
Pittsburgh 0.00 (1.1)
Milwaukee 0.96 (9.1)
Arizona 1.59 (11.1)
San Francisco 2.45 (7.1)
St. Louis 2.57 (7)
Philadelphia 2.70 (10)
Atlanta 3.24 (8.1)
Chicago 3.86 (7)
Cincinnati 4.50 (4)
L.A. Dodgers 5.14 (14)
Miami 7.20 (5)
N.Y. Mets 8.31 (4.1)
Houston 8.53 (6.1)
San Diego 8.64 (8.1)
Washington 9.00 (2)
American League, ERA (innings pitched)
Tampa Bay 0.00 (5)
Kansas City 0.00 (2.2)
Boston 0.82 (11)
N.Y. Yankees 1.17 (15.1)
Minnesota 2.00 (9)
L.A. Angels 2.16 (8.1)
Detroit 2.57 (7)
Chicago 2.61 (10.1)
Baltimore 3.00 (3)
Oakland 3.75 (12)
Seattle 6.08 (13.1)
Toronto 6.10 (10.1)
Cleveland 7.20 (5)
Texas 16.88 (2.2)
The Yankees have had the most appearances by their pitchers in the All-Star Game since 2000 with 16. The Dodgers pitching staff has made 14 appearances, most in the N.L. Following are the number of All-Star Game appearances by each team’s pitchers since 2000.
16: N.Y. Yankees
14: L.A. Dodgers
10: San Diego, Minnesota, L.A. Angels
9: Atlanta, Milwaukee, Arizona, Boston
8: Philadelphia, Toronto, Chicago White Sox
6: Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, San Francisco, Detroit
5: N.Y. Mets, Cleveland
4: Washington, Cincinnati, Colorado, Tampa Bay
3: Miami, Baltimore, Texas
2: Pittsburgh, Kansas City
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
How well is your team doing in the MLB standings?
Well, it’s June 1… the first two months of the season are in the books and each team has about 110 games remaining of their long, 162-game schedule. There are some surprises atop the standings. In the A.L. East, the Baltimore Orioles were picked by many to finish last in the division, but they are currently tied with Tampa Bay for the top spot. The White Sox have a 1.5 game lead in the A.L. Central, and the Texas Rangers have a comfortable 5.5 game lead in the West.
Over in the National League, the Washington Nationals are the surprise leader of the N.L. East, holding a half-game advantage over Miami. The Cincinnati Reds are leading the N.L. Central by 1.5 games, and the Dodgers, even though they were recently swept at home in a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers, have a 5.5 game lead in the West.
What does all this mean? Does being in first place in the division on June 1 carry much weight when it comes to winning the title at the end of the season.
Major League Baseball went to a three-division format in 1995. In the 17 seasons since that change, there have been 102 division winners (17 seasons times six divisions). Of those 102 division-winners, 65 (63.7 percent) were leading their division (or were tied for the division lead) on June 1 of that year.
This season there are 17 teams that are leading their division or are within three games of the lead. Since 1995, 83 of the 102 division-winners (81.4 percent)either were in first place or were three games or less out of first in their division on June 1.
Since 1995, only nine teams won a division after being five games or more out of first place in their division race on June 1 of that year. The Minnesota Twins hold the distinction of winning the A.L. Central in 2006 after being 10.5 games out of first on June 1, 2006. That’s the largest deficit made up in the standings from June 1 in the past 17 seasons. The Twins are the only team to have a double-digit deficit (10 games or more) in the standings on June 1 to win a division title since ’95. This does not bode well for these 2012 teams, (Cubs, Rockies, Padres and Twins) who are each 10 or more games out of first in their division as of today. (Ironically, the Twins are 10.5 games out of first in the A.L. Central. Are they looking for a repeat of 2006?)
Following are the teams that won division titles since 1995 that were five games or more behind in the standings as of June 1 in their title season.
Games behind as of 6/1, Team, Year
10.5: Minnesota, 2006
9.0: Oakland, 2002
8.5: Philadelphia, 2007
8.0: Atlanta, 2001
7.0: San Francisco, 2000
6.5: Chicago Cubs, 2007
5.0: Detroit, 2011
5.0: Oakland, 2003
5.0: Houston, 2001
Note: Of the last 17 World Series champs (since 1995) five were not in first place in their division on June 1 of the year they won the title. The five: Atlanta, 1995 (3.5 games out of first on June 1); N.Y Yankees, 1999 (1.5 games out); N.Y. Yankees, 2000 (1.5 games out); Philadelphia, 2008 (0.5 games out); San Francisco, 2010 (3.5 games out).