erik lundegaard

And Then There Were Four

Cubs Indians Dodgers Blue Jays: 2016 MLB LCS

A year ago, the Toronto Blue Jays were the team with the longest postseason drought. 

Today they're the remaining 2016 team with the most recent World Series title:

TEAM  LAST PENNANT LAST TITLE
Toronto Blue Jays 1993 1993
LA Dodgers 1988 1988
Cleveland Indians 1997 1948
Chicago Cubs 1945   1908 

That's good news for baseball fans. For the World Series, we are at least going to get a team that hasn't won a pennant since '97 or a World Series since '93. Those are worst-case scenarios. 

The bigger news is we're on the verge of a potentially historic underdog series, Indians vs. Cubs, or a team that hasn't won the World Series since 1948 (longest AL drought) vs. a team that hasn't won since 1908 (longest MLB drought by far). That would be something. Let's see both of them lose that

That said, the Cubs aren't as historically bad as people think. They were the first team to go to the World Series twice (1906, 1907) and to win it twice (1907, 1908). And that pennant in 1945? It was their 10th overall. At that point, only the Yankees (14) and the Giants (12) had captured more flags.

Hell, despite this historic drought, they still average one pennant every 11 years, which is a better average than both the Blue Jays and Indians. It's only when you look at average years between titles that their historic ineptitude becomes obvious:

MajorLeagueTeam  Years* Posts Pennts Titles Yrs/Penn Yrs/Title
LA Dodgers 110 30 18 6 6.11 18.3
Toronto Blue Jays 37 7 2 2 18.5 18.5
Cleveland Indians 110 12 5 2 22 55
Chicago Cubs 110 18 10 2 11 55

* Since advent of World Series in 1903, excluding 1904, 1994 and this year.

(And if you're curious, yes, the Yankees slaughter everyone in each of these categories. They have 52 postseason appearances (Dodgers are second), 40 pennants (Giants are second w/20), 27 titles (Cards: 11). They average a pennant once every 2.75 years, and a championship once every 4.07 years. It's why we hate them.)

(BTW: For the above, I did not factor in the number of overall MLB teams during every given year of each team's existence. In other words, it was statistically easier to win a pennant/title from 1903 to 1960 when there were only 16 teams, rather than the 18 teams in 1961, the 20 teams from 1962 to 1968, the 24 teams from 1969 to 1976, the 26 teams until '92, and 28/30 teams in the '90s. This kind of calculation goes beyond my decidedly amateur stats brain. Others are welcome to have at.) 

So how likely is Cubs vs. Indians, the ultimate historic underdog showdown?

The 2016 numbers don't look bad. Cleveland was 4-3 against Toronto this year, while Cubs went 4-3 against LA. 

More, the Cubs had the best run differential in baseball (+256), while the Indians were 4th-best (+101). Jays were 5th (+93), Dodgers 6th (+87).

But it's October, they're short series, and anything can happen. We find out starting tonight at 5 PM PST.

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Posted at 07:34 AM on Fri. Oct 14, 2016 in category Baseball  

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