Thursday, October 28, 2010
When a team wins the first two World Series games . . .Posted by Chris Jaffe
Well, the Giants just won Game Two, just as last night they won Game One. What does the future hold? Well, let's see what the past holds.
Prior to tonight, a team has gone up two games to none in the World Series 50 times. (That includes two long ago Series in which there was a tie early on, and it took the Series until Game 3 for one team to go up two games to none). The leading teams went on to win 39 of those 50 Fall Classics. Not too surprising.
Let's break it down a step further. Here's how the results of the 50 Series by final wins and losses (from the point of view of the team up):
- 20 won in sweep
- 9 won in five games
- 4 won in six games
- 6 won in seven games (well, actually five - I'm including the 1919 Series here which was a best-of-nine)
- 8 lost in seven games (including another eight game Series: the 1921 Fall Classic, another best-of-nine)
- 3 lost in six games.
The teams that came back to win it were: 1921 Giants, 1955 Dodgers, 1956 Yankees, 1958 Braves, 1965 Dodgers, 1971 Pirates, 1978 Yankees, 1981 Dodgers, 1985 Royals, 1986 Mets, and 1996 Yankees. The 1955 Dodgers, 1985 Royals, and 1986 Mets won the first championship in franchise history, much as the Rangers are hoping to do. The 1978, 1981, and 1996 Series were the comebacks that ended in six games.
One last way of looking at things here: the Rangers have been outscored 20-7. This is only the fourth time a team down two games to none has been outscored by 13 runs or more. The 1987 Cards were outscored 18-5 by the Twins, the 1937 Giants were outscored 16-2 by the Yankees, and worst of all the 1996 Yankees were outscored 16-1 by the Braves. That last one, of course, was a time when the down team shockingly came back, winning in a mere six games. There are only two other times the down team has been outscored by more than 10 runs after two games - in 2001 and 2007. Both squads went on to lose their Series.
Looking ahead, teams down two games to none have actually won a majority of the next game: 27-23. Of the 23 teams that lost, 20 ended up getting swept in the Series. So lose Game Three and lose all remaining fight. (The three teams that won Game Four all lost in Game Five: 1910 Cubs, 1937 Giants, and 1970 Reds). So Game Three really is a must-win for the Rangers.
To put it another way: of the 50 previous teams to lose the first two World Series decisions, those that lost the next game won .000 of their World Series while those who won the next contest took the Series at a .407 clip. So Texas's odds either go up from one in five to two in five if they win Game Three or down to zero in five if they lose the next one.
For any baseball fans out there, 21 of the 27 times the down team won Game Three, the Series went at least six games. It's NEVER happened when the down team losses another one. So if you want a longer World Series, history says to root for the Rangers to win the next one.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.