Runaway divisional title no guarantee for World Series
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
This season of Major League Baseball marks the 20th anniversary of the sport going to three divisions in each league.
Since 1994, just under 25% of the divisional winners won their division by margin of 10 games or more.
Through games of September 10, two teams (Atlanta and Los Angeles Dodgers) lead their divisions by 10 or more games and one division leader (Boston) has an 8.5 game lead.
Does winning a division by 10 or more games guarantee success in the post-season? Or an assurance of a World Series appearance?
Of the 28 teams that won their division by 10 or more games since 1994, only six made it to the World Series… and only two won the World Series. Here’s a quick look at those six teams:
Won division by 10-plus games and appeared in World Series that year
2011: Texas (won division by 10 games) Lost in World Series
2004: St. Louis (won division by 13 games) Lost in World Series
2001: New York Yankees (won division by 13.5 games) Lost in World Series
1998: New York Yankees (won division by 22 games) Won World Series
1995: Cleveland (won division by 30 games) Lost in World Series
1995: Atlanta (won division by 21 games) Won World Series
Did you know?
* No team won their division by 10 or more games in 2012.
* In 2002, four of the six division champs won their division by 10 or more games. The two teams that did not win their division by 10 games or more, Anaheim and San Francisco, appeared in the World Series that year.
* Five teams have won their division by 20 or more games since 1994. The last to do so were the Angels in 2008. They won the A.L. West by 21 games.
* The Atlanta Braves franchise has won the most division titles by 10 games or more. They have done it five times since ’94. The Yankees and Cardinals have each done it four times.
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Mariano Rivera looks to lead Yanks in saves for 16th straight season
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The New York Yankees are 9-6 after 15 games and sit atop the American League East tied with the Toronto Blue Jays. Long-time reliever Mariano Rivera has three saves in those nine wins and is the only Yankees reliever with a save this season.
From 1997 through last season, Rivera has led the Yankees in saves each season, a streak of 15 straight years. Meanwhile, the other 29 MLB teams have had 234 different relief pitchers that have led their team in saves in a season during that same timeframe, led by the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs; they have had 11 different relievers each lead their team in saves the past 15 seasons.
Following are the number of different pitchers who have led their team in saves from 1997-2011.
Number of different yearly saves leaders since 1997, Teams
11: Baltimore, Chicago Cubs
10: Atlanta, Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Chicago White Sox, Texas
9: Washington, Arizona, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle
8: San Francisco, Oakland
7: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, LA Dodgers, Boston, Kansas City, Minnesota
6: Houston, Colorado
5: NY Mets, Cincinnati
4: LA Angels
3: San Diego
1: NY Yankees
Here’s a quick look at the names of the pitchers who have been a part of the teams that have had the fewest and the most saves leaders since 1997.
San Diego (3): Heath Bell, Trevor Hoffman, Rod Beck
LA Angels (4): Jordan Walden, Brain Fuentes, Francisco Rodriquez, Troy Percival
Baltimore (11): Kevin Gregg, Alfredo Simon, George Sherrill, Chris Ray, B.J. Ryan, Jorge Julio, Buddy Groom, Ryan Kohlmeier, Mike Timlin, Armando Benitez, Randy Myers.
Chicago Cubs (11): Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster, LaTroy Hawkins, Joe Borowski, Antonio Alfonseca, Tom Gordon, Rick Aguilera, Terry Adams, Rod Beck.
In looking at the saves leaders for each team over the past seasons, 10 teams ended the 2011 season with the same saves leaders for the past three or more seasons, including Rivera’s 15-year streak with the Yankees. But here’s the amazing follow-up on that stat… of those 10, only one, Rivera, will likely extend that streak.
* Miami: Juan Oviedo led the Marlins in saves the last three seasons; he has been suspended by MLB.
* NY Mets: Francisco Rodriquez led the Mets in saves the last three seasons; he was a mid-season trade to the Brewers last season.
* Cincinnati; Francisco Cordero led the Reds in saves over the past four seasons; he is now with Toronto.
* Colorado: Huston Street was the Rockies saves leader for the past three seasons; he is now with San Diego.
* San Diego: Heath Bell led the Padres in saves the last three years; he is now in Miami.
* San Francisco: Brian Wilson has been the Giants closer for four seasons; his 2012 season is done due to injury.
* Boston: Jonathan Papelbon led the Red Sox in saves for six straight seasons; he is now the Phillies closer.
* Kansas City: Joakim Soria has been the Royals saves leader for five straight years; his 2012 season is over due to an elbow injury.
* Oakland: Andrew Bailey led the A’s in saves for three straight years; traded to the Red Sox, although he is currently on the IR.
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