Upsets Likely in World Series Chase
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 10/01/2008
With the Chicago White Sox win over the Minnesota Twins in a postseason play-in game, the eight-team field for the Major League Baseball postseason is set. Unfortunately for the White Sox they enter the playoffs with only the seventh best record in the field. Since baseball expanded the playoffs to eight teams for the 1995 season no team with the second worst record in the playoffs has won the World Series. But in the 13 years since the expansion, two teams with the worst record in the playoffs have won the fall classic, just as many times as the team with the best record has won it. That gives you a good idea that upsets in October, may not really be upsets.
Since 1995 teams with a better record have only gone 44-50 in playoff series. It has been even worse since 2000 as teams with the better regular season record have gone eight games under .500, going 23-31 in playoff series.
In 2000 the Yankees won 87 games in the regular season and won the World Series. Just two years ago the St. Louis Cardinals captured the World Series despite only going 83-78 in the regular season, the worst record out of the playoff teams. While only the Boston Red Sox last season and the Yankees in 1998 won the World Series with the best record that is not to say the strongest teams from the regular season have had miserable postseasons. The team with the best record has reached the World Series six times since the postseason expansion, two more than anybody else.
The Angels have the best regular season record. They are listed on BetUS as +175 to win the American League pennant and advance to the World Series.
Out of the 17 teams to win 100 regular season games in the last 13 years only one, yes one, has won a World Series. The other 16 teams have failed including the 116-win Seattle Mariners of 2001. The only team to follow a 100-win regular season with a World Series title was the 114-win New York Yankees in 1998. This season the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the lone 100-win team. The past failures of 100-win teams might be why the Angels were not set as the favorites by the oddsmakers entering the playoffs. The Cubs (97-64) are listed at +325 on BetUS while the Angels enter at +350.
The team in the playoffs with the second best record, as the Cubs have, has also won two World Series but reached the World Series only three total times. The most championships belong to the team with the third best regular season record and this year that happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite a historic regular season and winning the toughest division in baseball, oddsmakers are setting Tampa Bay at +500 to win the World Series, behind the Boston Red Sox (+400) the team they beat out to win the AL East.
The longshots this season all listed at +1000 are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox. All three teams enter the playoffs with the three worst records. Since 1995 teams with the three worst records have won four of the 13 World Series. The Philadelphia Phillies are in the middle of the pack, on the board at +700. They have the fifth best record and no team in that spot has had worst luck in the middle season, only reaching the World Series one time and never winning it.
MLB World Series Futures by BetUS
Chicago Cubs (+325)
Los Angeles Angels (+350)
Tampa Bay Rays (+500)
Boston Red Sox (+400)
Philadelphia Phillies (+700)
Los Angeles Dodgers (+1000)
Chicago White Sox (+1000)
Milwaukee Brewers (+1000)
MLB Playoff teams ranked by record
1) Angels 100-62
2) Cubs 97-64
3) Rays 97-65
4) Red Sox 95-67
5) Eagles 92-70
6) Brewers 90-72
7) White Sox 89-74
8) Dodgers 84-78
World Series Appearances since 1995 by record from best record to worst
World Series Titles since 1995 by record from best record to worst