Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Mike's Baseball Rants


10  09  07 
06  05  04  03 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
Links to MBBR
Wild Series?
2004-10-21 20:52
by Mike Carminati

If the Astros win tonight in the seventh game of the NLCS, it will be the second time in the last three years that both World Series combatants are wild card teams. Also, five of the last six World Series opponents would be non-division winners (the 2003 Yankees being the only exception. Of the ten World Series, including this one, since the wild card, half have had a wild card representatives.

And it seems that wild card teams are performing better as time goes on. In 2002, both Anaheim and San Francisco gained entrance to the postseason via the wild card and then met in the World Series. It was the first time that had happened since the inception of the wild card in 1994, but could happen this year. Of the first 7 World Series since the wild card, only two had representative teams that were wild cards. Compare that to the fact that the last two World Series champs were wild card teams.

Could it be that the teams that were power houses being built when the wild card was in its inception—The Indians, Braves, and Yankees—have been overtaken by a broader range of teams that are now able to compete? Or could it just be luck? Ten years is not enough to determine that.

However, it is interesting that the wild cards are slightly outperforming expectations. A given wild card has a one-in-four chance, theoretically, of reaching the Series (slightly less given that they are assured of losing the homefield advantage in both of the first two rounds). On the other hand, the odds that there will be at least one wild card in the Fall Classic are seven out of sixteen. Let me explain: You can't just add the AL odds and the NL odds because you have the overlapping scenario that the both teams are wild cards. Instead, let's determine the odds that a given league is not represented in the World Series by a wild card. That's three out of four, right? There are three division champs and a wild card. So it's 3/4. Square those odds to get the odds that neither league is represented by a wild card and you get 9/16 or 43.75%.

Now, consider that there have been five wild cards in the last nine Series, those since the expansion to three rounds. Therefore 5 of 18 World Series teams (or 27.78%) have been wild cards. One would expect there to be just under four (3.9375). Now, if both teams are wild cards this year, bring the total to seven (or 35% of all WS opponents) in the wild card era, while one expect no more than four (4.375 actually). It's odd but we'll have to wait another fifty-odd years to see if there's a trend.

Speaking of World Series odds, much has been made of the Red Sox's World Series championship drought since 1918, even a Master Card commercial. That's 86 years. You probably know that two other teams with longer droughts (the Cubs 96 and the forgotten White Sox 87 years). You may not know that they Red Sox are 5-4 in World Series competition, and that there are just four franchises with more World Series rings (the Yankees, A's, Cardinals, and Dodgers).

Here is the Red Sox record in the Series:

1903Boston Pilgrims5Pittsburgh Pirates30
1912Boston Red Sox4New York Giants31
1915Boston Red Sox4Philadelphia Phillies10
1916Boston Red Sox4Brooklyn Robins10
1918Boston Red Sox4Chicago Cubs20
1946St. Louis Cardinals4Boston Red Sox30
1967St. Louis Cardinals4Boston Red Sox30
1975Cincinnati Reds4Boston Red Sox30
1986New York Mets4Boston Red Sox30

Also, speaking of 1918, the Red Sox won five of the 15 World Series played by the end of that year, two more than the next best team, the Philadelphia A's.

Of course, it's the Red Sox record of futility since 1918 that irks their fans. But consider that it hasn't caused them to defy expectations. If you look at the odds that a team will win a World Series over its history and use them to determine the expected number of rings for the team, the Sox's 5 championships is just about as expected (actually 5.26).

If you rank them in order of matching expectations, there are only nine clubs ahead of them who have met or exceeded expectations better than the Sox (led by the Yankees with almost 21 more than expected). If they win it this year, there will only six teams that have done more to exceed expectations.
Meanwhile, the Phils are owed 4.26 WS. I'll take 4, thank you, and keep the change. They are the worst followed by the Indains, Cubs, and White Sox all "owed" 3.26. By the way, following the Yanks are the A's and Cards (both 3.74 better than expected), Marlins (1.66), Blue Jays (1.04), D-Backs (0.80), Dodges (0.74), and Mets (0.36).

Here's the complete list:

Tm1903-1918 WS1919-2003 WSTotalWS/Yrs %LastWaitExp #Act-ExpExp >1918Act-Exp> 1918
New York Yankees0262626.26%200045.2620.744.3221.68
Philadelphia-Oakland Athletics3699.09%1989155.263.744.321.68
St. Louis Cardinals0999.09%1982225.263.744.324.68
Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers0666.06%1988165.260.744.321.68
Boston Pilgrims-Red Sox5055.05%1918865.26-0.264.32-4.32
Cincinnati Reds0555.05%1990145.26-0.264.320.68
New York-San Francisco Giants1455.05%1954505.26-0.264.32-0.32
Pittsburgh Pirates1455.05%1979255.26-0.264.32-0.32
Detroit Tigers0444.04%1984205.26-1.264.32-0.32
Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta Braves1233.03%199595.26-2.264.32-2.32
St. Louis Browns-Baltimore Orioles0333.03%1983215.26-2.264.32-1.32
Washington Senators-Minnesota Twins0333.03%1991135.26-2.264.32-1.32
Chicago Cubs2022.02%1908965.26-3.264.32-4.32
Chicago White Sox2022.02%1917875.26-3.264.32-4.32
Cleveland Indians0222.02%1948565.26-3.264.32-2.32
Florida Marlins02220.00%200310.341.660.341.66
New York Mets0224.88%1986181.640.361.640.36
Toronto Blue Jays0227.69%1993110.961.040.961.04
Arizona Diamondbacks01116.67%200130.200.800.200.80
Kansas City Royals0112.94%1985191.29-0.291.29-0.29
LA-California-Anaheim Angels0112.38%200221.70-0.701.70-0.70
Philadelphia Phillies0111.01%1980245.26-4.264.32-3.32
Colorado Rockies0000.00%100.34-0.340.34-0.34
Houston Colt .45s-Astros0000.00%411.64-1.641.64-1.64
Montreal Expos0000.00%341.29-1.291.29-1.29
San Diego Padres0000.00%341.29-1.291.29-1.29
Seattle Mariners0000.00%260.96-0.960.96-0.96
Seattle Pilots-Milwaukee Brewers0000.00%341.29-1.291.29-1.29
Tampa Bay Devil Rays0000.00%60.20-0.200.20-0.20
Washington Senators-Texas Rangers0000.00%421.70-1.701.70-1.70

The kicker is that the Sox have under-performed expectations by four titles (4.32 actually) since 1919. Of course, that's no worse than either Chicago franchise. Besides it's rather arbitrary. How many Giants fans remember their 1954 championship? None in San Francisco since they were still in New York, four years removed from debuting on the west coast. How many times do you hear that they are cursed?

Besides there are teams that have had substantial runs without even tasting champagne in October. The Rangers have had the longest wait, 42 years and two locations, without a Series ring. Anaheim just got theirs two years ago after waiting as long as Texas. The Astros, who might face the Red Sox in this year's Octoberfest, are next with 41 years of futility. You won't hear much about their disaffected fans on the TV broadcast, however. And don't quote Billy Buckner to them when they have the disappointments of both the 1980 and 1986 NLCS's to remember.

I, frankly, will be relieved if the Red Sox win and the "Curse" fades into oblivion, hopefully with Dan Shaughnessy's book-cum-cottage industry that helped spur Curse-mania. It reminds of a hockey's teams story of long-suffering but highly devoted fans and a team that had not sipped from Lord Stanley's Cup for decades. Then when the New York Rangers finally did, while some relieved fans exhaled that they could now die peacefully, a funny thing happened. The team went back to mediocrity (or worse), the fans found other things to occupy their time, and I don't think that team even plays anymore.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.