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The Halves and the Halves Not, Part V
2004-09-10 18:54
by Mike Carminati

Parts I,II, III, and IV.

Team Records

Before we finish up this little dissertation, there are just a few open questions to investigate. First, do baseball teams over the course of their histories have personalities that we can see by looking at the first-half/second-half splits?

Here are the overall records per club per half along with the expected winning percentage and the variance from actual. In addition the disparity between their first and second half records (at a franchise level) are listed below each club. Note that migratory clubs have totals for the entire franchise as well as for each stop along their journey:

TeamHalfWLPCTExp PCTAct-Exp
Anaheim Angels FranchiseFirst18901891.500.498.002
Anaheim Angels FranchiseSecond15081683.473.476-.003
Los Angeles AngelsFirst158178.470.483-.013
Los Angeles AngelsSecond150160.484.483.001
California AngelsFirst13621385.496.491.005
California AngelsSecond10781231.467.470-.003
Anaheim AngelsFirst370328.530.528.002
Anaheim AngelsSecond280292.490.492-.003
Arizona DiamondbacksFirst314308.505.513-.008
Arizona DiamondbacksSecond252235.517.523-.005
Atlanta Braves FranchiseFirst29772870.509.509.000
Atlanta Braves FranchiseSecond27632630.512.512.000
Boston BravesFirst681782.465.472-.006
Boston BravesSecond749843.470.470.000
Milwaukee BravesFirst549477.535.541-.006
Milwaukee BravesSecond597413.591.592-.001
Atlanta BravesFirst17471611.520.516.004
Atlanta BravesSecond14171374.508.506.002
Baltimore Orioles FranchiseFirst28093007.483.484-.001
Baltimore Orioles FranchiseSecond26972726.497.485.012
St. Louis BrownsFirst600946.388.406-.018
St. Louis BrownsSecond714954.428.417.011
Baltimore OriolesFirst22092061.517.516.001
Baltimore OriolesSecond19831772.528.521.007
Boston Red SoxFirst30892721.532.529.003
Boston Red SoxSecond28572588.525.529-.004
Chicago CubsFirst28302995.486.489-.003
Chicago CubsSecond25802849.475.478-.003
Chicago White SoxFirst29182886.503.503-.001
Chicago White SoxSecond27412697.504.504.000
Cincinnati RedsFirst30212825.517.506.010
Cincinnati RedsSecond27382675.506.505.001
Cleveland IndiansFirst29592849.509.508.001
Cleveland IndiansSecond27672676.508.506.003
Colorado RockiesFirst488551.470.471-.001
Colorado RockiesSecond385431.472.480-.008
Detroit TigersFirst29382885.505.503.001
Detroit TigersSecond27582695.506.508-.002
Florida MarlinsFirst483554.466.476-.010
Florida MarlinsSecond384426.474.450.024
Houston AstrosFirst18131892.489.500-.010
Houston AstrosSecond15771531.507.505.002
Kansas City RoyalsFirst14811568.486.488-.002
Kansas City RoyalsSecond13251293.506.499.007
Los Angeles Dodgers FranchiseFirst31982678.544.541.004
Los Angeles Dodgers FranchiseSecond29342462.544.543.000
Brooklyn DodgersFirst1037819.559.544.015
Brooklyn DodgersSecond1099885.554.552.002
Los Angeles DodgersFirst21611859.538.539-.001
Los Angeles DodgersSecond18351577.538.538.000
Milwaukee Brewers FranchiseFirst14521599.476.488-.012
Milwaukee Brewers FranchiseSecond12211402.465.469-.004
Seattle PilotsFirst4055.421.388.033
Seattle PilotsSecond2443.358.416-.057
Milwaukee BrewersFirst14121544.478.491-.014
Milwaukee BrewersSecond11971359.468.471-.002
Minnesota Twins FranchiseFirst28053052.479.480-.002
Minnesota Twins FranchiseSecond25802819.478.475.002
Washington Senators (1901-60)First9551160.452.448.003
Washington Senators (1901-60)Second9631216.442.442.000
Minnesota TwinsFirst18501892.494.499-.005
Minnesota TwinsSecond16171603.502.499.004
Montreal ExposFirst14851574.485.478.007
Montreal ExposSecond12601354.482.484-.002
New York MetsFirst17351895.478.481-.003
New York MetsSecond14821688.468.483-.015
New York YankeesFirst33352465.575.579-.004
New York YankeesSecond31872263.585.580.005
Oakland Athletics FranchiseFirst27683100.472.467.005
Oakland Athletics FranchiseSecond24872901.462.460.002
Philadelphia AthleticsFirst683953.417.411.006
Philadelphia AthleticsSecond6861042.397.408-.011
Kansas City AthleticsFirst428608.413.413.000
Kansas City AthleticsSecond401616.394.398-.004
Oakland AthleticsFirst16571539.518.515.003
Oakland AthleticsSecond14001243.530.520.009
Philadelphia PhilliesFirst27073086.467.467.001
Philadelphia PhilliesSecond24992960.458.457.000
Pittsburgh PiratesFirst28352957.489.488.001
Pittsburgh PiratesSecond27182737.498.505-.007
San Diego PadresFirst14301715.455.456-.002
San Diego PadresSecond11671368.460.455.006
San Francisco Giants FranchiseFirst42724017.515.515.000
San Francisco Giants FranchiseSecond36813683.500.503-.003
New York GiantsFirst1013849.544.544.000
New York GiantsSecond992978.504.508-.004
San Francisco GiantsFirst21081926.523.523-.001
San Francisco GiantsSecond17721629.521.515.006
Seattle MarinersFirst11511242.481.481.000
Seattle MarinersSecond9171076.460.479-.019
St. Louis CardinalsFirst30582751.526.527-.001
St. Louis CardinalsSecond30112441.552.544.008
Tampa Bay Devil RaysFirst236375.386.389-.003
Tampa Bay Devil RaysSecond204290.413.431-.018
Texas Rangers FranchiseFirst29353195.479.482-.003
Texas Rangers FranchiseSecond24762736.475.480-.005
Washington Senators (1961-71)First392550.416.416.000
Washington Senators (1961-71)Second349481.420.423-.003
Texas RangersFirst13881421.494.490.005
Texas RangersSecond11141260.469.479-.010
Toronto Blue JaysFirst11551224.485.495-.009
Toronto Blue JaysSecond1013995.504.501.004

The Devil Rays, owing to their short existence, enjoy the best improvement in the second half, 27 points. But the Cardinals (26), Royals (20), and Blue Jays (19) are not far behind, three teams with a fair amount of playoff exposure from less than large-market cities.

The steepest decline in the second half is typical experienced by the Angels (27), Mariners (21 points), and Giants (16). The Rangers franchise typically experiences just a 4-point dropoff, but since moving to Arlington averages 25 points probably due to the especially doggish days of summer in Texas.

Dynasty (No TV party tonight)

Perhaps looking at an entire franchise history is too cumbersome. Teams move to new locations and/or new stadiums. Owners change. Besides younger teams seem far more extreme when compared with the original 16.

Let's break up the teams into smaller time segments to determine if their personalities in a certain era come more to the fore. Here are the top second half improvements for an entire decade:

DecadeFranchisePCT Diff
1990sArizona Diamondbacks.151
2000sOakland Athletics.116
2000sHouston Astros.090
1940sSt. Louis Cardinals.083
2000sSt. Louis Cardinals.074
2000sSan Francisco Giants.059
1970sBaltimore Orioles.059
1960sSt. Louis Cardinals.053
1930sBaltimore Orioles.050
1960sNew York Yankees.049
2000sTampa Bay Devil Rays.049
1930sLos Angeles Dodgers.047
1970sNew York Yankees.046
2000sSan Diego Padres.041
1940sBaltimore Orioles.040
1960sChicago White Sox.037
1980sMinnesota Twins.037
1940sPittsburgh Pirates.036
1980sToronto Blue Jays.035
2000sToronto Blue Jays.032

Keep in mind that the D-Backs were only in existence for two years in the Nineties. Also, the A's ability to improve in the second half in the 2000s (what do we call this decade anyway?) is on full display, but remember that we are only halfway through the decade. The early Musial-era Cardinals look like the best to improve over a full decade. They went to four World Series in that decade.

Now here are the teams that slumped the worst in the second half:

DecadeFranchisePCT Diff
1960sCleveland Indians-.069
1940sSan Francisco Giants-.064
1960sMilwaukee Brewers-.063
1980sAtlanta Braves-.061
1980sAnaheim Angels-.059
2000sMilwaukee Brewers-.058
2000sPhiladelphia Phillies-.056
1940sOakland Athletics-.056
1970sChicago Cubs-.053
2000sSeattle Mariners-.052
2000sBaltimore Orioles-.052
1950sSt. Louis Cardinals-.051
1930sSan Francisco Giants-.050
1930sBoston Red Sox-.049
1980sTexas Rangers-.046
1950sChicago White Sox-.046
2000sArizona Diamondbacks-.045
1990sCincinnati Reds-.044
2000sCincinnati Reds-.044
1980sSeattle Mariners-.042

The Indians of the Sixties were a team that had nine managers in ten years. No one manager stayed longer than two years. And they had six in-season managerial changes on the decade. All of that for just two winning seasons but a bunch right around the .500 mark.

Here are the greatest overachievers, the teams whose actual winning percentage outpaced the expected winning percentage by the widest margin for a half over an entire decade:

2000sNew York YankeesSecond.054
1960sSan Diego PadresFirst.047
2000sCincinnati RedsFirst.037
1960sMilwaukee BrewersFirst.033
1960sAnaheim AngelsFirst.032
1970sCincinnati RedsSecond.031
1990sArizona DiamondbacksSecond.031
2000sMinnesota TwinsSecond.030
1950sLos Angeles DodgersFirst.029
2000sMinnesota TwinsFirst.028
2000sFlorida MarlinsSecond.027
2000sSan Diego PadresSecond.027
1940sSt. Louis CardinalsSecond.027
2000sAtlanta BravesFirst.026
2000sSt. Louis CardinalsSecond.025
1980sMinnesota TwinsSecond.025
2000sNew York YankeesFirst.023
1940sBaltimore OriolesSecond.023
1980sBaltimore OriolesSecond.022
1980sHouston AstrosSecond.022
1970sChicago CubsFirst.022

It's no surprise, especially to Red Sox fans, that the Yankees have been strong finishers of late. The Big Red Machine finished strong as well. On the other hand, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the Fifties may have disappointed so often because they typically overachieved in the first half. The same goes for the Cubs of the Seventies (but more so).

Here are the biggest underachievers in a half over an entire decade (based on actual versus expected winning percentage):

1960sMilwaukee BrewersSecond-.057
1990sArizona DiamondbacksFirst-.057
1960sMontreal ExposFirst-.051
1990sTampa Bay Devil RaysSecond-.043
2000sHouston AstrosFirst-.034
1980sSeattle MarinersSecond-.030
2000sColorado RockiesSecond-.030
1930sPhiladelphia PhilliesFirst-.029
1960sMontreal ExposSecond-.028
1940sBaltimore OriolesFirst-.028
1930sBoston Red SoxSecond-.027
2000sKansas City RoyalsSecond-.027
1990sNew York MetsFirst-.026
1970sToronto Blue JaysFirst-.026
2000sDetroit TigersSecond-.025
2000sPhiladelphia PhilliesSecond-.025
1980sPittsburgh PiratesFirst-.025
1990sNew York MetsSecond-.024
1930sBaltimore OriolesFirst-.024
1950sCincinnati RedsSecond-.024
1990sCincinnati RedsSecond-.024
1980sBoston Red SoxSecond-.023
1990sMilwaukee BrewersFirst-.023

Finally, here are the best and worst halves over an entire decade all time:

2000sOakland AthleticsSecond.669
1940sSt. Louis CardinalsSecond.663
1930sNew York YankeesFirst.653
1930sNew York YankeesSecond.634
1950sNew York YankeesFirst.634
2000sSt. Louis CardinalsSecond.630
1970sBaltimore OriolesSecond.623
2000sSan Francisco GiantsSecond.617
1940sNew York YankeesSecond.611
1930sSan Francisco GiantsFirst.611
1950sNew York YankeesSecond.608
2000sNew York YankeesFirst.607
1990sAtlanta BravesSecond.606
1950sCleveland IndiansSecond.602
1970sCincinnati RedsSecond.601
1950sLos Angeles DodgersFirst.601
2000sAtlanta BravesSecond.599
2000sNew York YankeesSecond.598
1940sNew York YankeesFirst.596
1930sChicago CubsSecond.595
2000sAtlanta BravesFirst.594

(It's good to be the Yankees in the Thirties.)

1960sSan Diego PadresSecond.297
1960sMontreal ExposSecond.318
1960sMontreal ExposFirst.323
1970sToronto Blue JaysSecond.332
1930sBaltimore OriolesFirst.337
1960sSan Diego PadresFirst.337
1970sToronto Blue JaysFirst.352
1930sPhiladelphia PhilliesSecond.353
1960sMilwaukee BrewersSecond.358
1970sSeattle MarinersSecond.367
1960sNew York MetsSecond.371
2000sTampa Bay Devil RaysFirst.373
1930sPhiladelphia PhilliesFirst.374
1940sPhiladelphia PhilliesSecond.375
2000sMilwaukee BrewersSecond.382
2000sDetroit TigersSecond.383
1950sPittsburgh PiratesFirst.386
1940sPhiladelphia PhilliesFirst.387
1930sBaltimore OriolesSecond.387
1940sOakland AthleticsSecond.388
1960sNew York MetsFirst.393
1990sTampa Bay Devil RaysSecond.393
1930sOakland AthleticsSecond.397
1930sOakland AthleticsFirst.397
2000sDetroit TigersFirst.398
1950sOakland AthleticsFirst.399
1950sBaltimore OriolesFirst.400
1970sSeattle MarinersFirst.401

(But not so good to be the Phillies in the Forties.)

Trend Blend

What does it mean to start off the season under .500? Does it severely limit your chances to win a pennant or a World Series? What about under .400? What does it mean to go into the break with a .600 winning percentage? Are you guaranteed a playoff berth? .650?

Let's take a look at how teams in certain winning percentage ranges finished the season. First let's take a look at the percentage for each range to see if they generally improved, stayed the same or declined in the second half (The highest for each range is boldedóread left to right in each row):

2nd PCT
1st PCT <.300.300-.349.350-.399.400-.449.450-.499.500-.549.550-.599.600-.650.650+Grand Total
Grand Total1.69%3.32%10.43%14.47%18.06%20.21%16.56%10.10%5.15%1534

You'll note that very few teams witness their winning percentage changing that drastically in the second half. Also, teams in all ranges over .500 tend to slip toward .500 though the better first-half teams slip less. Teams below .500 do not generally improve, however. The worst teams (<.300) remain the worst. The next worst (.300-.349 and .350-.399) tend to improve somewhat. But the teams between .400 and .500 tend to slip (.400-.449) or remain the same (.450-499).

Next, what does the first-half winning percentage mean for the final position in the standing that a team will occupy? Here are the position breakdowns for the first half winning percentage ranges (Note that a good bit of this depends on the vagaries of the divisional configuration of the leagues over time. E.g., the worst teams tend to end up eighth instead of tenth since there were many more years with 8 teams per league rather than 10.):

1st PCT12345678910Grand Total
Grand Total15.19%15.19%15.06%15.12%14.15%11.60%7.04%4.69%0.98%0.98%1534

What does it mean for your final winning percentage?

1st PCT<.300.300-.349.350-.399.400-.449.450-.499.500-.549.550-.599.600-.650.650+Grand Total
Grand Total0.65%4.37%6.39%14.73%21.51%25.55%16.75%8.28%1.76%1534

Now, what are the odds that teams in the given ranges at the break will make the postseason?

1st PCTYesNoGrand Total
Grand Total16.56%83.44%1534

Wow, that's pretty tough. Teams that start out in the ranges below .550 n the first half have virtually no chance of making the postseason and none under .400 have ever made it. Only one out of two teams in the .550-.599 range make it and two out of three in the .600-.649 range. Even tams that have a .650+ winning percentage in the first half have no better than an 80% chance of getting into the playoffs.

Finally, here are the teams that won World Series divided by first half winning percentage range:

Win WS?
1st PCTYesNoGrand Total
Grand Total4.56%95.44%1534

So historically, unless you have a better than .550 winning percentage, you have virtually no chance of winning the World Series. Above that range, apparently how well you do in the first half does help determine your chances of winning the Series.

What about second half performance and World Series expectations?

Win WS?
2nd PCTYesNoGrand Total
Grand Total4.56%95.44%1534

So apparently a very good second half is slightly less important than a very good first (or at least it has been historically). However, teams below .600 in the second half look like pretty bad bets. The Yankees have been struggling to reach that mark (and have succeeded thanks to the D-Rays). Cubs, Rangers, and Giants fans may not have much to cheer for ever if their teams do end up making the playoffs (The other contenders are over .600 in the second half).

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