• WSJ’s Everson: No Big Deal That Yanks Lose To Good Teams

    Posted by on August 4th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Darren Everson, over at the WSJ, says that “in recent years, winning the World Series has had nothing to do with being good against good competition.” (H/T to Marc Carig.) More from Everson:

    After losing three of four games to the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees are 24-29 against teams that are currently .500 or better. Even worse, they are 0-8 against their archrivals, the Boston Red Sox, against whom they open a four-game series on Thursday. How can the Yankees win in October, the thinking goes, if they’re so-so against good teams now?

    This actually isn’t a bad sign at all, though. In fact, it’s the mark of a champion. In recent years, winning the World Series has had nothing to do with being good against good competition. Five of the nine champions this decade posted losing regular-season records against opponents that were .500 or better, including the 2008 Phillies (43-46).

    Conversely, teams that excel against tough opponents tend to flop in the postseason. Not since the 1995 Braves has the team with the best record against .500-or-better competition won the World Series that same season.

    …Five of the nine champions this decade posted losing regular-season records against opponents that were .500 or better…

    Wow. That sounds impressive. But, if you give the 2000 Yankees just one more win against teams that were .500 or better, and you give 2001 Diamondbacks just one more win against teams that were .500 or better, then it becomes:

    …Six of the nine champions this decade did not post losing regular-season records against opponents that were .500 or better…

    And, then, it’s just the 2002 Angels, 2006 Cardinals and 2008 Phillies who were champions this decade while posting losing regular-season records against opponents that were .500 or better. And, a case can be made that those three teams were very improbable champions…because of some wild things that happened in their favor during their World Series.

    Comments on WSJ’s Everson: No Big Deal That Yanks Lose To Good Teams

    1. yagottagotomo1
      August 4th, 2009 | 12:38 am

      That’s one way to play with a pretty straight forward set of numbers.Want anothe way? If the Twins win their next game, the Yankees will suddenly be 31-29 against teams .500 or better. Funny how that works, huh?

    2. Evan3457
      August 4th, 2009 | 4:13 am

      Look, to be completely serious for a moment, I do not mean to imply that their record vs. teams that are above .500 doesn’t matter.

      I would say it matters. I would prefer that the Yankees had a better record against the better teams. It is the mark of a great team to have a good record against good teams.

      It’s a fairly important marker, but only one. In my opinion, Steve makes too much out of this one marker:

      1) As the article shows, it is not a defining characteristic of championship teams, in that 4 champions of the last 9 have been under .500.

      2) Too many times we have seen teams dominated in the regular season by a good opponent turn the tables on that opponent in the post-season.

      3) No one statistical marker, other than total wins and losses, is ever absolutely determinative.

      4) The best team from the regular season doesn’t win the title every year in the post-season.

      So, yes, the Yanks’ record against the Red Sox, Angels and Phillies bothers me. Their record against the White Sox and Marlins doesn’t. The record against the Twins, Mariners, and Braves are markers in their favor, but carries very little weight me, as I don’t think those teams are that good. Their record against the Tigers, Rangers and Rays are markers in their favor that carry more weight with me, because I think those teams are good.

      Not as much weight as the ledger against the Red Sox, Angels and Phillies, because those three are the best three teams in baseball.

      But where Steve apparently thinks the difference is enormous, determinative even, I think the difference is large enough to be noticeable, but not so large as to rule out the Yanks winning the title.

      I am much more concerned about the state of the Yankees’ rotation coming into the post-season, than I am about their record vs. any team in the playoffs, or out.

    3. Pat F
      August 4th, 2009 | 10:58 am

      well done there yagotta. playing with numbers is a very tricky game!

      in all seriousness, if there is anything this article, post, and comments section should show us – very much including the changes small adjustments in numbers can make – is that none of this stuff matters in terms of short series in october. there are few, if any, predictors. you just have to get there and then hope to get hot pitching, clutch hitting, and a few breaks.

    4. ken
      August 4th, 2009 | 2:25 pm

      Pat F wrote:

      none of this stuff matters in terms of short series in october. there are few, if any, predictors. you just have to get there and then hope to get hot pitching, clutch hitting, and a few breaks.

      Pat, you are exactly right. Just get in and take your chances.

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