For the last two Octobers, I’ve looked at the trends of past World Series champions, and how each team in that year’s MLB postseason field compared to the trends that a typical World Series-winning team fits.
As we enter the 2017 postseason, starting with the AL Wild Card game tonight, let’s look at the 10 teams in this year’s postseason and how they stack up to the trends of a World Series champion.
Trend: Team batting average of .250 or better
Within the trend: Astros (.282), Rockies (.273), Nationals (.266), Indians (.263), Yankees (.262), Twins (.260), Red Sox (.258), Cubs (.255), Diamondbacks (.254)
Outside the trend: Dodgers (.249)
Trend: Number of offensive starters hitting .290 or better (min. 50 games)
Within the trend: Astros (5), Rockies (5), Nationals (4), Indians (3), Diamondbacks (3), Dodgers (2), Cubs (2), Red Sox (2), Twins (2)
Outside the trend: Yankees (1)
Trend: Team ERA of 4.00 or better
Within the trend: Indians (3.30), Dodgers (3.38), Diamondbacks (3.66), Red Sox (3.70), Yankees (3.72), Nationals (3.88), Cubs (3.95)
Outside the trend: Astros (4.12), Rockies (4.51), Twins (4.57)
Trend: Starting rotation ERA of 4.25 or better
Within the trend: Dodgers (3.39), Indians (3.52), Diamondbacks (3.61), Nationals (3.63), Yankees (3.98), Astros (4.03), Cubs (4.05), Red Sox (4.06)
Outside the trend: Rockies (4.59), Twins (4.73)
Trend: Bullpen ERA of 3.92 or better
Within the trend: Indians (2.89), Red Sox (3.15), Dodgers (3.38), Yankees (3.44), Diamondbacks (3.78), Cubs (3.80)
Outside the trend: Astros (4.27), Rockies (4.40), Twins (4.40), Nationals (4.41)
Trend: Home winning percentage of .550 or better
Within the trend: Dodgers (.704), Diamondbacks (.642), Yankees (.630), Indians (.605), Astros (.593), Cubs (.593), Red Sox (.593), Nationals (.580), Rockies (.568)
Outside the trend: Twins (.506)
Trend: Away winning percentage of .520 or better
Within the trend: Indians (.654), Astros (.654), Nationals (.617), Dodgers (.580), Red Sox (.556), Cubs (.543), Twins (.543)
Outside the trend: Diamondbacks (.506), Rockies (.506), Twins (.494)
Trend: Win percentage after Sept. 1 of .500 or better
Within the trend: Indians (.867), Astros (.724), Yankees (.690), Cubs (.655), Red Sox (.607), Diamondbacks (.607), Nationals (.552), Rockies (.517), Twins (.517)
Outside the trend: Dodgers (.433)
Trend: Win percentage in one-run games
Within the trend: Cubs (.605), Rockies (.600), Astros (.594), Nationals (.588), Indians (.571), Dodgers (.568), Diamondbacks (.558), Red Sox (.537)
Outside the trend: Twins (.455), Yankees (.409)
Trend: Baseball-Reference.com Simple Rating System of 0.2 or better
Within the trend: Indians (1.5), Yankees (1.3), Astros (1.2), Dodgers (0.9), Red Sox (0.8), Diamondbacks (0.8), Nationals (0.6), Cubs (0.6), Rockies (0.3), Twins (0.2)
Outside the trend: none
Here are how many trends of a World Series champion each playoff team fit:
Red Sox 10
By this analysis, the Indians, Cubs and Red Sox would be World Series co-favorites, and each certainly have a very strong team with a great chance at hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.
But only eight of the 22 World Series winners in the Wild Card era (since 1995) have fit all 10 criteria, so those who have missed in a category or two still have a great statistical shot at winning the World Series.
18 of the last 22 champions have fit eight or more criteria, and 21 of those 22 have fit at least seven (the 2006 Cardinals, with just three, are the huge outlier.)
More recently, the 10 champions since that 2006 Cardinals team have all fit eight or more criteria, and four of the last seven have fit all 10.
That said, seven of the 10 playoff teams, including all six that have already advanced to the League Division Series, fit eight or more criteria and fit the trend to win the World Series.
Though the shoe fits some better than others, the race is absolutely wide open as the playoffs begin.
Using these trends (and homefield to break ties where applicable), here is how the playoffs would play out–with the very World Series matchup and outcome I predicted in March:
AL Wild Card: Yankees def. Twins
NL Wild Card: Diamondbacks def. Rockies
AL Division Series: Indians def. Yankees, Red Sox def. Astros
NL Division Series: Diamondbacks def. Dodgers, Cubs def. Nationals
AL Championship Series: Indians def. Red Sox
NL Championship Series: Cubs def. Diamondbacks
World Series: Indians def. Cubs