Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Take a look at the standings today and you’ll see a few surprises: Baltimore, not expected to make much noise in the A.L. East, has a two-game lead in that division. The Cleveland Indians are three games up in the A.L. Central. Not surprising is the Texas Rangers’ five-game lead in the A.L. West.
Over in the National League, the Braves and Nationals are 1-2 in the East. The Cardinals, even after losing Albert Pujols, sit atop the Central, and the Dodgers have the biggest division lead, six games over the Giants.
The other surprise is last year’s division champs. As previously mentioned, the Rangers continue their solid play. But take a look at the other five defending division champs: The Yankees are 21-18, but are currently in fourth place in the A.L. East; Detroit has a losing record at 19-20, although they are in second in the A.L. Central; Arizona is 18-22 and third in the N.L. West; Philadelphia has a winning record at 21-19, but they are last in their division; and the Milwaukee Brewers, winners of the N.L. Central last season, are off to a horrible start. They Brewers are 16-23 and in fifth place in the division.
Since 1994 when Major League Baseball went to three divisions in each league, 46 teams repeated as division champs the following year, just under 50 percent of the time. Of the teams that won their division since ’94, 21 of them were under .500 the following season, and 35 dropped from first place to third place or lower the following season.
Here’s a look at the teams since 1994 that won the division title and then saw their winning percentage drop the most the following season.
Win pct drop, Team, Year of Division title, win pct that year/win pct next year
.191 Montreal, 1994, .649/.458
.191 Minnesota, 2010, .580/.389
.155 Houston, 1999, .599/.444
.149 San Diego, 1998, .605/.457
.148 Texas, 1999, .586/.438
.142 Seattle, 2001, .716/.574
.136 Los Angeles Dodgers, 2004, .574/.438
.121 Chicago White Sox, 1994, .593/.472
.117 Baltimore, 1997, .605/.488
Six franchises have not won a division title since 1994. They are:
* Colorado: Has won the Wild Card three times
* Kansas City: Came in second in 1995
* Florida/Miami: Won the Wild Card twice; won the World Series both of those years.
* Toronto: Finished second in 2006
* Montreal/Washington: Finished second in 2002.
Did you know? Since 1994, the New York Yankees have won 13 A.L. East titles. They have never dropped lower than second place the year after winning a division championship.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.
Here’s a quick look at which teams have made the most playoff appearances as a Wild Card team since 1970.
9: Dallas, New York Jets
8: Miami, St. Louis Rams
7: Washington, Denver, New York Giants, Minnesota,
6: Indianapolis, Buffalo, Oakland, Kansas City, Green Bay
5: Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore
3: Tampa Bay
1: Cincinnati, San Diego, Carolina
0: Houston Texans
Here’s a few more stats re: NFL Wild Card teams…
* The Baltimore Ravens have been an AFC Wild Card in each of the last three seasons.
* These teams have not been a Wild Card team in this century (year listed is their last apperarance as a Wild Card team): Cincinnati, 1975; Oakland, 1993; Chicago, 1994; San Diego, 1995; Arizona, 1998; New England, 1998; Detroit 1999; Buffalo, 1999.
* These teams have had the most appearances as a Wild Card team in the NFL playoffs since 1990: Philadelphia (7), Green Bay (6), Miami (6), New York Jets (6).
As the Milwaukee Brewers leapfrog back and forth at the top of the N.L. Central division, fans at Miller Park have one big question… and no, it’s not will Prince Fielder re-sign with the club (although that’s probably number two on the list). The big question is: When will this year’s team start winning with some regularity on the road?
Will the Brewers paltry record in away games hurt their chances for their first N.L. Central division title since they moved to the N.L. in 1998 and first in the franchise’s history since 1982? How about a little statistical history to help answer that question.
First, since 1995 (the last 16 seasons) no team with 20 or more wins at home than on the road has won a division title; the Brewers are already at plus-13 with 29 wins at home and only 16 on the road (as of Sunday, July 3). In fact, only nine teams out of a possible 96 division winners (1995-2010) have won a title with 14 or more wins at home than on the road. Here’s a look at those nine:
Team, season Home wins Road wins Diff.
Chicago White Sox, 2008 54 35 19
Oakland, 2003 57 39 18
Tampa Bay, 2008 57 40 17
Atlanta, 1996 56 40 16
Atlanta, 2005 53 37 16
St. Louis, 2006 49 34 15
Los Angeles Angels, 2007 54 40 14
San Francisco, 2003 57 43 14
Minnesota, 2002 54 40 14
Some other notes on division winners from 1995-2010 when looking at their season-ending records at home and on the road.
* Of the 96 division winners since 1995, only 17 (17.7%) had a losing record on the road. Over the last six seasons, however, 10 of the last 36 divisions winners (27.8%) had a losing record in away games.
* The average division winner since 1995 has won about 5.5 more games at home than on the road.
While it doesn’t look good for the Brewers winning a division title if they continue (and increase) their +13 pace, getting a Wild Card berth has been a little more forgiving when it comes to performance (or lack thereof) on the road. For example:
* Of the 32 Wild Card teams since 1995, 13 (40%) had losing records on the road.
* The average Wild Card team won an average of 11.5 more games at home than on the road.
* The Atlanta Braves last season had a plus-21 with 56 wins at home and 35 wins on the road when they won the N.L. Wild Card. That was the highest disparity between home and road wins of a Wild Card representative since 1995.
(Note: For the sake of this post, I only went back to 1995 because MLB went to a three-division system for each league in 1994 (although there was no playoffs in 1994 due to the work stoppage in August that cancelled the remainder of the ’94 season)
Thanks to Dr. Bob for the suggestion for this post.