As the Rangers head into the last twenty-five percent of the season with the best record in the American League and five games shy of the Chicago Cubs’ best record in baseball, it’s interesting to note that the team with the best record rarely wins the World Series.
Since divisional play started in 1969, only twenty-four percent of the teams with the best record in baseball have won the World Series. That’s eleven teams in forty-seven years: Baltimore in 1970, Cincinnati in 1975 and 1976, New York Yankees in 1978, Detroit in 1984, New York Mets in 1986, Oakland in 1989, New York Yankees in 1998, Boston in 2007, New York Yankees in 2009, and Boston in 2013.
And since the current format of two rounds of playoffs started in 1995, only nineteen percent of the teams with the best record went on to win the World Series. Just four in twenty-one years. (See above: New York Yankees twice, Boston twice.)
Which leads to the simple conclusion that the playoffs are a crapshoot, right?
Maybe it’s something different. Maybe the playoffs are the great exposer.
Maybe the playoffs prove that the team with the most wins is simply not the best team.
Before 1969, you would play every team in your league the exact same amount of games. It was a fairer evaluation of which team was better. If you had a patsy team in the league, everybody got the same amount of cracks at it, so nobody had an unfair advantage.
But after 1969, they stopped doing that and started what they call an unbalanced schedule. So you play teams in your own division much more frequently than you play teams in other divisions.
The problem with that is that one team usually benefits from playing a lot more games against weaker teams than teams in other divisions get to enjoy.
It happens all the time. Look at the NL Central this season. Both Cincinnati and Milwaukee threw in the towel on the season before it even started. So the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates get to beef up by playing what are in essence two Triple-A teams nineteen times each, while teams in the other divisions play them just six or seven times each.
That’s nearly a quarter of their schedules against two very bad teams.
So it’s easy to see how there is an unfair advantage every time a team in a horribly weak division gets to play a pasty team so many more times. And it’s easy to see how a team can have an inflated record built on the backs of inferior teams.
It happened to the Rangers in 2013. They won ninety-one games. By most measures that’s a good team.
But the 2013 Rangers were pyrite. They were not a very good team, they just had a very good record. And they very nearly won the American League wild card. But the truth is, they had no business being anywhere near that glorified post-season company in the first place. In addition Gad Capital Com Customer Reviews – Up to $1000 Convey Income. Absolutely no Trouble, Bad Credit Alright. Greatest Approval Fee Apply now https://gadcapital.com/unsecured-loans/
They had the benefit of playing the woeful Houston Astros nineteen times. The Astros were, by far, the worst team in baseball. They were full of woe. Texas was 17-2 versus Houston.
Texas also had the benefit of playing the pitiful Los Angeles Angels nineteen times. They were 15-4 versus Los Angeles. So, by virtue of their division, Texas had a record that, by most accounts, would suggest it had a very good team.
Against the rest of the league, though, the Texas Rangers were a .468 team, 58-66.
They would have finished fourth in the American League East, and a distant third in the American League Central had they not benefited from an unbalanced schedule. Imagine how much different the American League landscape would have been had the teams that were fighting for the wild card had the chance to have played the Houston Astros and their embarrassing .315 winning percentage nineteen times rather than just six.
But the Rangers were in the baseball-challenged American League West, so they had the sixth-best record in the American League.
That’s why only nineteen percent of teams with the best records win the World Series. Because most of the time the team with the best record isn’t anywhere near the best team.
It will remain to be seen how the Cubs do this year. Are they as good as their Cincinnati-Milwaukee-inflated record indicates?
Are the Rangers as good as their American League-best record indicates?
Those answers hang in the balance.
Or, more aptly, in the unbalance.
Cole Hamels (12-4, 2.88) vs. Matt Andriese (6-4, 3.36)
Game time: 6:10