Tuesday, November 03, 2009
When down 3 games to 2 in the World Series . . .Posted by Chris Jaffe
Well, the Phillies staved off elimination, giving us our first World Series to reach Game Six in a half-dozen years.
The question now is: what does history tell us of teams in this situation?
Well, there have been 57 previous best-of-seven World Series that reached a Game Six. In the sixth contest*, the trailing has amassed an impressive record of 35-22. Not too shabby. Actually, it was achieved in a very odd manner. The first two dozen such games were split evenly 12-12 between leaders and trailers. The most recent 18 games have been likewise split down the middle, 50% each. However, from 1955 to 1975, 15 World Series reached Game Six - and the trailing team went 14-1 in those games. Only in 1959 did the Series end in the sixth contest. Weird.
Anyhow, that's only half the battle. After going 35-22 in Game Six, the survivors went 17-18 in Game Seven. Overall then, teams trailing 3 games to 2 in a best of seven World Series go 17-40 in their quest for the World Championship, so odds are a bit over one-third.
Since I have the list with me, here's the roll call of the comebackers (grouped into fives for readability):
Only the 1926 Cards and 2001 D-backs did it against the Yanks.
There's a wrinkle, though. Philly has to go on the road. Of the above 17 teams, only six did it on the road. They are: the 1979 Pirates, 1968 Tigers, 1958 Yankees, 1952 Yankees, 1934 Cardinals, and 1926 Cardinals. Interestingly, half of those teams came back from 3-to-1 deficits.
* Note: for purposes of this research, the tie in the 1912 World Series never happened. Thus Game Eight is considered Game Seven, and so on down the line).
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.