Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Waiting Game

I brought up yesterday that the Phillies may be happy that the Red Sox are sending the ALCS back to Tampa for a sixth game. My point on the Phillies was that it gives them a chance to set up Hamels for Game 1 and that it means their opponent (presumably Tampa) will have at least one more game in which to risk injury or tire out their pitchers. However, Steve and Angie threw down the gauntlet in yesterday's comments section by bringing up the 2007 Colorado Rockies and 2006 Detroit Tigers as examples of teams that had a long wait between the LCS and the Word Series and lost.

So, thanks to the vast amount of information at baseball-reference.com -- one of the three best sites on the internets, along with IMDB and Wikipedia -- I was able to do a quick analysis to see if this is really the case. Does a longer wait hurt a team going into the World Series? I looked at the postseasons since 1995, the Wild Card era, and calculated the days wait for the winner of each league, the regular season wins by each league champion, and the number of World Series wins by the team that had the longer wait. You can find the chart here.

True, the '07 Rockies and the '06 Tigers had the longest wait differences at six and five games, respectively, and both lost. However, the three other teams who had wait differences longer than one day -- the 2005 White Sox, 1996 Yankees, and 1995 Braves -- all won. Besides the Rockies and Tigers, only one other team with a longer wait of any length lost, the 2000 Mets. You can't even take into account which team was better, using regular season wins, as three out of the five teams with fewer regular season wins and wait differences longer than one day won (and, weirdly, eight out of the thirteen World Champions had lesser regular season records).

Bottom line: There's no correlation, no proof that a team gets rusty with a longer wait. It sounds good, but doesn't bear out in practice.

3 comments:

Elisha said...

Yup, married to a sports nerd :)

angie said...

Dude, I thought you took stat classes? If you had, you'd at least acknowledge that you didn't analyze nearly enough factors to come to any kind definitive conclusion.

Regardless, I'm not sure that the experiences of the 2005 White Sox, 1996 Yankees, and 1995 Braves have anything to do with how the Tigers played in 2006.

Since Jaimie reminded me that the start of the WS doesn't change regardless of when the two LCS's end, I agree that the longer the ALCS went, the better for the Phillies. I'd also point out, though, that even you questioned at one point (10/14) whether the Phillies would be rusty for the WS with a long break.

Josh said...

a) My point was that it's inconclusive. Sure, I didn't run a t-test on it, but I knew I didn't need to based on the data (also, I don't have SPSS and Excel's stats functions suck).

b) My questioning if the Phillies would be rusty was more a joke on how badly Hamels would beat the Dodgers and end the series. But yeah, it's possible, I'm just saying there's no proof that rustiness exists.