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View Full Version : good article in TSN about playoff myths


oldcomiskey
10-07-2001, 12:13 PM
When the baseball playoffs start this Tuesday, we'll start hearing and reading about the significance of
home-field advantage, the importance of pitching and the consequences of having a bunch of ex-Cubs
on the roster. Much of this will be presented as fact, but when it comes to the postseason, there are
almost as many myths as there are truths. Let's take a look at some postseason proverbs and see how
much truth there is to them.

1. The team with the best regular-season record wins the World Series.

Myth. Since 1969, only eight teams with the best regular-season record have hoisted the World Series
trophy. In the 1990s, the '98 Yankees (114-48) were the only team to finish with the best
regular-season record and a World Series championship.

2. In postseason matchups, the team with the better regular-season record wins.

Half-truth. This appears to have some truth until the World Series. In the league championship series,
the team with the better record is 36-25 (.590). In the division series, the team with the better record
is 12-10 (.545).

Since 1969 in the World Series, the team with the better record is just 15-16, including 3-7 in the past
10 World Series. It's worth noting in last year's postseason matchups, the team with the worse record
won each time.

3. In league championship series and divisional series play, count on the team that won the
regular-season series advancing.

Truth. In the league playoffs, the teams that won the regular-season series are 44-33 (.571). There are
some remarkable exceptions: the Phillies beat the Dodgers in the 1983 NLCS but lost the season
series 11-1, and the Mets fell to the Dodgers in 1988 despite beating them 10-1 in the regular season.

4. Having a strong closer is important.

Truth. Since 1969, the World Series team with the better closer (measured by regular-season saves)
has a 17-13 advantage. This appears to be a much bigger factor, though, in the league championship
series. The team with the better closer wins 71 percent of the time (45-18).

5. The ex-Cub factor, or the notion that Cubs luck follows the team's former players.

Myth. This theory actually has different forms, but we'll go with the one by its original creator, writer
Ron Berler, who in 1981 "uncovered" the "ex-Cubs factor." It states that no team with three or more
ex-Cubs can win a World Series.

Of course, this theory was debunked before it was made: The 1960 Pirates won the World Series
with three ex-Cubs (Smoky Burgess, Don Hoak and Gene Baker). That means the Diamondbacks
(Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez and Mike Morgan) shouldn't spend time worrying about this.

6. Winning Game 1 is important.

Truth. In the playoffs every game is important, but winning that first one sure seems big. This has been
especially true in the best-of-five division series, in which teams that won the first game have won the
series 71 percent (17-7) of the time.

In the league championship series, teams winning first have gone on to win the series 66 percent
(41-21) of the time. In the World Series the number dips to 60 percent (58-38).

7. Home-field advantage is important.

Truth. In the World Series, since baseball went to a 2-3-2 format, the team with home-field advantage
is 42-34, including 13-2 since 1985. In the divisional series and league championship series, the team
with home-field advantage is 33-26.

8. In the postseason, the team with the better defense wins.

Half-truth. In the past 31 World Series, the team with the better fielding percentage is 15-16. In the
NLCS and NL divisional series, the better-fielding team is 20-23. However, in the ALCS and AL
divisional series, the better-fielding team is 28-15.

Why the difference? Defensive play might be more important in the AL playoffs because the
designated hitter means the ball is put into play more. In addition, because NL teams employ more
pinch-runners and pinch-hitters late in the game, the best defensive players aren't always on the field in
the late innings.

9. The World Series team with better regular-season pitching wins.

Myth. Pitching appears to be a decisive factor in league championship series and divisional series --
teams with the lower ERA are 53-33. But good pitching is almost a curse in the Fall Classic. Since
1969, the World Series team with the lower regular-season ERA is 11-19, including 2-8 in the past
10 World Series (thanks largely to Atlanta's classic stumbles).

10. In extra innings, the home team has an advantage.

Myth. The home team has a .600 winning percentage (27-18) in the 44 World Series games that have
gone into extra innings. That's actually not much better than the home team's .551 winning percentage
in games that don't go to extra innings.

Want more proof? In the league championship series, there have been 47 extra-inning games, and
road teams hold a 24-23 advantage.

LongDistanceFan
10-07-2001, 12:16 PM
great article.

FarWestChicago
10-07-2001, 12:35 PM
Originally posted by oldcomiskey
5. The ex-Cub factor, or the notion that Cubs luck follows the team's former players.

Myth. This theory actually has different forms, but we'll go with the one by its original creator, writer
Ron Berler, who in 1981 "uncovered" the "ex-Cubs factor." It states that no team with three or more
ex-Cubs can win a World Series.

Of course, this theory was debunked before it was made: The 1960 Pirates won the World Series
with three ex-Cubs (Smoky Burgess, Don Hoak and Gene Baker). That means the Diamondbacks
(Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez and Mike Morgan) shouldn't spend time worrying about this. We'll see about this one. If a team from the weak-assed NL wins the series it will be surprising.

oldcomiskey
10-07-2001, 12:44 PM
one thing about that does not make sense about the 3 Cub rule--apparently since 1960--there have been2 teams to win with 3 former Cubs---TWO--the other being the 1989 Giants--Dave Martinez--Don Zimmer and Rick Reuschel----who lost to a team that also had 3 former Cubs--the As had Tony LaRussa, Dave Henderson and Dennis Eckersley