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The Worst of Series, Part II
2004-11-01 12:24
by Mike Carminati

Part I

I decided to look a little deeper into lopsided playoff series to determine just how bad a series the Sox's four-game sweep of the Cardinals was from an aesthetic point of view. Red Sox fans, do not be offended. Consider it a compliment that your team won in such an overwhelming fashion.

I ranked every playoff series for every season (I only had World Series data for 2004) in the difference between the winner's and loser's stats in as many categories as I thought could be relevant. For batting I used runs per game, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS. For pitching: ERA, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratio, strikeouts per nine innings, and home runs per nine innings. I also threw in unearned run average, the difference between runs and earned runs per nine innings, for some measure of defensive play.

The following are the top-25 most lopsided series based on these criteria all-time:

YrRoundWinnerLoserWLTRk Avg
1981ALCSNew York YankeesOakland Athletics30013.36
1884ChampProvidence GraysNew York Metropolitans30017.27
1989WSOakland AthleticsSan Francisco Giants40022.36
1928WSNew York YankeesSt. Louis Cardinals40024.45
1969ALCSBaltimore OriolesMinnesota Twins30024.55
1970ALCSBaltimore OriolesMinnesota Twins30026.36
1990WSCincinnati RedsOakland Athletics40031.00
2002NLDSSt. Louis CardinalsArizona Diamondbacks30032.18
2004WSBoston Red SoxSt. Louis Cardinals40034.27
1998ALDSNew York YankeesTexas Rangers30035.18
1998NLDSAtlanta BravesChicago Cubs30035.45
1997NLDSAtlanta BravesHouston Astros30035.64
2002ALCSAnaheim AngelsMinnesota Twins41036.36
1984ALCSDetroit TigersKansas City Royals30038.91
1996NLCSAtlanta BravesSt. Louis Cardinals43042.45
1995NLCSAtlanta BravesCincinnati Reds40043.82
1982NLCSSt. Louis CardinalsAtlanta Braves30046.09
1910WSPhiladelphia AthleticsChicago Cubs41046.18
2000NLDSSt. Louis CardinalsAtlanta Braves30047.64
1997ALDSBaltimore OriolesSeattle Mariners31048.00
1998WSNew York YankeesSan Diego Padres40049.64
1976WSCincinnati RedsNew York Yankees40050.55
1999ALDSNew York YankeesTexas Rangers30051.82
1990ALCSOakland AthleticsBoston Red Sox40052.27
1938WSNew York YankeesChicago Cubs40052.45

The 2004 World Series ranks ninth. It was fourth most lopsided World Series of all time. The top one on the list is the 1989 shellacking that I picked as my lopsided in the last installment. The 1990 Fall "Classic" also did well. The 1932 Series dropped to 27th after finishing in the bottom three in Unearned Runs Average. The Yankees had 7 unearned runs that year to the Cubs' 2, even though they were closer in errors (Yankees 8, Cubs 6).

The most lopsided seven-game series was the 1996 NLCS. It went seven games even though the Braves outscored the Cards 3.71 runs per game (6.29 to 2.57). The Braves won two games by football scores (14-0 and 15-0, the seventh game) though the rest was relatively close (one 5-run win, the rest within 2 runs).

The most lopsided seven-game World Series was the 2001 D-Back-Yankee affair coming at 47th.

On the flip side of the coin, the least dominating playoff series victors were:

YrRoundWinnerLoserWLTRk Avg
1973WSOakland AthleticsNew York Mets430194.73
1997ALCSCleveland IndiansBaltimore Orioles420192.27
1960WSPittsburgh PiratesNew York Yankees430189.09
2003WSFlorida MarlinsNew York Yankees420187.27
1940WSCincinnati RedsDetroit Tigers430185.55
1986NLCSNew York MetsHouston Astros420185.00
1997ALDSCleveland IndiansNew York Yankees320185.00
1988NLCSLos Angeles DodgersNew York Mets430181.55
1996WSNew York YankeesAtlanta Braves420181.00
2002NLDSSan Francisco GiantsAtlanta Braves320180.55
1991WSMinnesota TwinsAtlanta Braves430180.09
1948WSCleveland IndiansBoston Braves420179.64
2000ALDSNew York YankeesOakland Athletics320178.45
2001ALDSSeattle MarinersCleveland Indians320174.82
1912WSBoston Red SoxNew York Giants431174.73
1931WSSt. Louis CardinalsPhiladelphia Athletics430174.27
1984NLCSSan Diego PadresChicago Cubs320174.18
1957WSMilwaukee BravesNew York Yankees430173.00
1981NEDIVMontreal ExposPhiladelphia Phillies320172.64
1918WSBoston Red SoxChicago Cubs420172.55
1997WSFlorida MarlinsCleveland Indians430171.00
1999ALCSNew York YankeesBoston Red Sox410171.00
1977WSNew York YankeesLos Angeles Dodgers420169.00
1997NLCSFlorida MarlinsAtlanta Braves420168.55
1985ALCSKansas City RoyalsToronto Blue Jays430165.55

The 1973 Series is an appropriate choice for the top spot. The series started with a one-run (2-1) win by the A's, a game won in the 12th by the Mets (10-7), and a game won in the 11th by the A's (3-2). The A's had a 2-1 edge but the series was extremely close to that point. Next, the Mets won big 6-1 to even the series and 2-0 on a combined three-hitter from Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw, to take a 3-2 lead. The A's won the last two 3-1 and 5-2.

There are a number of series that could have gone either way to fill out the list.

The least dominating sweepóand I take pride in thisówas the 1976 NLCS, in which the Big Red Machine razed my Phils (the 91st least dominating with scores of 6-3, 6-2, and 7-6). The least dominating World Series sweep was the NY Giants over the Cleveland Indians, winners of 111 during the regular season, in 1954 (106th least dominating, about middle of the packó5-2, 3-1, 6-2, and 7-4), followed by 1907 (Cubs-Tigers) and 1950 (Yanks-Philsóagain!).

If the well isn't dry yet, I might take a stab at finding the closest series of all-time by looking at the absolute values of the differences. I know America is holding its collective breath.

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