World Series Champions since 2001
AL Winners: # of regular season wins (99, 98, 99, 96, 103, 97) - Avg: 98.6
NL Winners: # of regular season wins (92, 91, 83, 92, 92, 90, 94) - Avg: 90.5
Since 2001, every AL team to win the World Series has won at least 96 games and no NL team has won more than 94. It sounds kind of simplistic, but I write this post on 9/23/2013 predicting that the Red Sox were the favorites based on this set of data. At some point, it is going to be broken, but it might not be for a while.
As of right now, the Orioles (95-63) and the Angels (98-61) are the only AL teams that could finish with at least 96 wins (although the Orioles need to win at least 1 more game). The last 4 AL Winners (2005 White Sox, 2007 Red Sox, 2009 Yankees, 2013 Red Sox) were all at least tied for the best record in the AL.
The previous winners were Wild Cards (2002 Angels, 2004 Red Sox), but it is significantly more difficult for a Wild Card winner in 2014 because of the Wild Card game. The team with the best record in the league has an even bigger advantage now because they get to play the winner of the Wild Card game in the first round of the playoffs.
In the NL, only the Nationals (92-64) could finish with more than 94 wins, although that's not a given. The Wild Card teams (likely Pittsburgh and San Francisco) might not even reach 90 wins. The sweet spot for NL teams to win the World Series seems to be in the 90-92 win range. The Dodgers (90-68) and Cardinals (88-70) might be in the only NL playoff teams in the 90-92 range.
If history follows form this year, the only teams that would win the World Series would likely be the Angels, Dodgers or Cardinals. I'm making some assumptions here, so we'll have to check back after the games are finished Sunday. I'm assuming that the Nationals finish with 95+ wins, the Cardinals win the division and the Angels finish with a better record than the Orioles.
None of those things might turn out to be true. What we do know is that the Tigers, A's and Royals will be going against recent history if they win the World series.
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