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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The 2014 World Series Was a Classic

Evidently, a few folks have been complaining about the two teams that ended up in the World Series ("So What If These Aren’t The Two Best Teams In Baseball?"). Both the Giants and the Royals won fewer than 90 games this season, and more than one person has argued that neither team were the best team of their respective leagues. This assumes, of course, that regular season records accurately reflect which team is the best team, but that is debatable. As I noted in an earlier post, a team that, on average, wins 90 games a season, in a given season will win from 78 to 109 games (although the extremes are unlikely). Thus, the teams with the most wins during the regular season is not necessarily the best team. As FiveThirtyEight notes
Major League Baseball’s regular season (not even the playoffs, which are almost universally regarded as a crapshoot, but the 162-game regular season) is too short to definitively allow the best team to stand out from the pack. Even if MLB expanded to a schedule of 1,000 games per team (!!), the true best team in baseball would have less than a 54 percent chance of producing the regular season’s best record.
Moreover, each team plays more games against teams within its division, than without, which makes a straight up comparison of records problematic.

That said, MLB could return to a playoff system with only two leagues (no divisions), but does that guarantee that the World Series will be an exhibition of great baseball? No. In fact, the current system is probably better in that regard because it raises the probability that the two teams that reach the World Series will actually be playing good baseball.

And for those of you who missed it, this year's World Series was a classic. Probably the best since the Cardinals rallied and came back against the Rangers in 2011 ("One of the Best World Series Game Ever?") and maybe as good as the 1979 World Series when the Pittsburg Pirates ("We Are Family") beat the Baltimore Orioles in seven games (winning, like the Giants, their final game on the road). Next year, you might want to tune in (even if your team isn't playing).

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