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Presented by Steve Fall January 15, 2011 SABR Regional Meeting 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Presented by Steve Fall January 15, 2011 SABR Regional Meeting 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presented by Steve Fall January 15, 2011 SABR Regional Meeting 1

2 What is a True Champion?  A True Champion wins the World Series and has a great regular season 2

3 Does the New Playoff Structure Benefit Teams that are Merely Good, but not Great?  Percentage of clubs with 92 or fewer regular season victories winning WS: Old Format: 25 percent (6 times in 24 postseasons) Current Format: 50 percent (8 of 16) 3

4 Advantages of the Current Playoff Structure  Keeps more teams in the playoff races  Eliminates the possibility of great 100- win teams missing the postseason due to a tough division  More playoff baseball! But it falls short in one area… 4

5 Identifying Dominant Teams  100-Win Teams – in most cases – are Major League’s best and most dominant  Usually only one or two clubs reach this elite level each season  Such regular season dominance should lead to postseason success, but has it? 5

6 First a Look Back  From 1969 through 1993, under the four-team postseason structure, 25 playoff teams won 100 games during the regular season  Eight prevailed as World Series Champions, or 32.0 percent 6

7 But Everything Changed in 1994  The new postseason structure debuted in 1995 with the extra round of playoffs  Since then, dominant regular season teams have faced a tough challenge each October  Under the new format, 20 teams have won 100 games since 1995  Just two prevailed as WS Champs, or 10 percent (1998 and 2009 Yankees) 7

8 Percentage of 100-Win Teams Prevailing as World Champions Old Format: 32.0 percent (8 of 25) Current Format: 10.0 percent (2 of 20)  Adding the 1995 Braves (90-54) boosts the latter figure to 14.3 percent (3 of 21)  Still considerably lower than the previous percentage 8

9 How Can This Happen?  Even if a dramatically superior team defeats an inferior club 65 percent of the time in a playoff series, the new PS is no cakewalk .65 x.65 x.65 = 27.5 percent  So their odds of winning it all are just over one in four despite having a decisive edge in all three confrontations  And teams are almost never dramatically superior in all three rounds 9

10 What about Projected or Pythagorean Records?  Run differential and the Pythagorean Theorem of Winning Percentage do a better job of identifying elite teams than regular winning percentage  Does this change the results? 10

11 Percentage of Projected 100-Win Teams Prevailing as WS Champs Old Format: 27.3 percent (9 of 33) Current Format: 15.8 percent (3 of 19)  The three teams with a 100-win projected record to prevail: 1998 Yankees, 2002 Angels and 2007 Red Sox  Though not as extreme a difference, we get similar results as when using actual won-lost records 11

12 Comparing Teams with the Best Record Each Postseason  How have the teams with the best won- lost record fared in the postseason?  This method works well in seasons with multiple 100-win teams (such as expansion seasons like 1998) 12

13 Percentage of Teams with the Best RS Record Prevailing as WS Champions Old Format: 29.2 percent (7 of 24) Current Format: 15.8 percent (3 of 19)* * Teams shared the best record in three different postseasons  The three teams with the best RS record that prevailed were the 1998 Yankees, 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees  The results follow the previous methods 13

14 The Plight of the Atlanta Braves  From 1995 through 2005, the Braves won 11 straight Division Titles, won 100+ games 5 times and averaged 98.1 wins  Yet they won only 1 World Series  Went in PS games  Went in PS series  A.500 record in PS series projects to win 1 in 8 times now vs. 1 in 4 before 14

15 Summary of Research  In the expanded postseason, dominant regular season teams have won the World Series roughly half as often as before (from )  Is the new format solely to blame? 15

16 Other Possible Theories 1) Finishing Strong 2) The Secret Sauce 3) Super Divisions 4) Flipping the Switch 5) A Drop in Quality 16

17 Finishing Strong  Some teams – often fortified by deadline trades – can be better than 100-win teams without having as good a record  For example, the Giants and Rangers from 2010  Both strengthened their clubs at the trade deadline and thereafter 17

18 The Secret Sauce  Baseball Prospectus has developed a formula that summarizes the team attributes that enhance the odds of postseason success  Are some teams built for the postseason?  In general, teams with top heavy rotations tend to fare well  The ability to generate offense without power also appears key 18

19 The Super Division  AL East teams in recent seasons face such fierce competition all season that they are much better clubs than their records indicate  For example, the 2007 Red Sox had a record but steamrolled PS competition 19

20 Flipping the Switch  Some great teams may sleepwalk through the regular season and win just enough to reach playoffs  The 2000 Yankees went just and won the World Series  Had winning in 1998 and 1999 made them complacent?  If so, this impacts their regular season record 20

21 A Drop in Quality  Perhaps 100-win teams just aren’t as good  Has division realignment and/or expansion made it easier to win 100 regular season games since 1995?  The number of 100-win teams has increased under the new format: 1.31 per postseason versus 1.13 under the old structure 21

22 Postseason Record of 100- Win Regular Season Teams SeasonsWonLostPct

23 Postseason Record of Teams with the Best Regular Season Record SeasonsWonLostPct

24 Conclusion  While other factors have had some impact on the results, the most successful regular season teams have a much tougher time prevailing as World Series Champions due to the extra round of playoffs they must survive 24


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