Monday, October 6, 2014

Which NL teams would have the best chance of winning the World Series?

Since the last time that a road team won game 7 on the road in the World Series in 1979, teams have been terrible without home field advantage.  The National League has been particularly bad, especially teams that did well during the regular season.  Since 1979, the NL is 3-15 when they don't have home field advantage. 

NL without home field since 1982

92 wins and under (3-4): W ('03, 06, 08)    L ('83, 89, 05, 07)
93+ wins (0-11): ('85, 87, 91, 93, 96, 98, 00, 02, 04, 09, 13)

It is obvious why not having home field advantage could be a problem, especially if the series goes 7 games (road teams are 0-9 in Game 7 since 1979).  It is less obvious why teams that had better regular season records would struggle.  It is possible there is something in the psyche of a real underdog (like the '03 Marlins and '06 Cardinals) that would help them in the postseason.  Whatever it is, the trend is clear. 

Since 1997, no NL team has won the World Series with more than 94 regular season wins while no AL team except 1 (2000 Yankees) has had fewer than 96. It might be somewhat irrational, but it has been happening for a long time now.  NL teams with 93+ wins struggle in particular against AL teams with more than 96+ wins, going 0-7 in the process.

Obviously, this is going to be broken at some point.  Considering how often teams win Game 5 on the road in the LDS (Tigers did it three years in a row), it is only a matter of time before a road team wins Game 7 of the World Series on the road again. 

Let's say for the sake of argument that this is all somewhat predictive.  What would it mean this year?  Well, it would mean that the 96-win Orioles would have some serious wind at their back if they were to face the 94-win Dodgers or 96-win Nationals.  Now, the Orioles might want to avoid facing the Cardinals or Giants for other reasons (like these two teams combining to win 3 of the last 4 World Series), but this might not hurt.

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