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37 Responses to “Bloops: Best Post-Season Series Of All-Time”
I agree my formula for ranking postseason series isn't perfect. The list is meant more as a starting point than an ending point.
The biggest problem with it i can see: a great Game One scores the same as a great Game Seven. No difference where it is in a series. The only way to fix that, though, is to blow everything up and start from scratch -- right now my file has one line per series, and I'd need one line per game. Doing that would take forever.
I proposed an "Excitement Index", based on the absolute values of all the WPA, a while back on FanGraphs, and Tom Tango pointed out that this is essentially what the aLI measures. I did a sample and found that the two had a correlation north of .95, as I recall.
As you mentioned, Chris, your system didn't assign any points for comebacks that fell short. These are hard to account for, but they certainly make games more exciting. Maybe you could check innings after, say, the fifth where the team then losing did not tie the game (including scoreless innings), adding a point for every plate appearance with the potential tying run on base and two points for every plate appearance with the potential go-ahead run on base. (No points for IBBs — they have strategic value, but by themselves they are unexciting plate appearances.)
Just a suggestion. It'd take a lot of work, and the points awarded might be all out of whack with the existing points scale. Still, it could remedy an obvious flaw.
Chris J. No doubt plenty of people will complain and nitpick your index. But most of them won't bother spending the time it would take to improve yours. Personally I appreciate the effort it took and enjoyed reading your article. It definitely brought back some memories!
@BlueJays: oh. Good point. Well... I like your idea!!! 😛
@Chris: Hopefully, you took my comment in the spirit it was typed, but you may not have because I wasn't clear: I enjoy this concept, and I like what you've done. I love fun ranking systems like this. Good article surrounding it, too.
For a lot of fans, a contender for "Best Post-Season Series Of All-Time" would be the first interesting post-season series their hometown team played. That kind of excitement really stays in your memory.
I think any really great series needs that undefineable "IT" factor, not just close games or great finishes or historical performances, but some combination of all three.
@7 - Chris J -
Thanks for trying to quantify the unquantifiable.
A big question also has to do with other, intangible factors. Does a Red Sox/Yankees series automatically rank higher than a Marlins/Diamondbacks would because of the history of the individual franchises and their rivalry? Does a walkoff hit by Babe Ruth matter more than a walkoff hit by Joe Schmoe? Does a series like the '04 ALCS matter more because it led to a WS while the '03 ALCS didn't? It is might understanding that Chris didn't consider things like this which I am leaning towards agreeing with, since they don't really change the quality of the series itself, only what it might have meant to people. But, what it meant to people matters. So maybe there is an argument towards including such details.
Part of the problem there is that they become self-fulfilling. If we determine that a Marlins/D'Backs series can never compare to Yanks/Red Sox, then there is little that can happen to overcome that, permanently relegating certain teams and matchups to the bottom of the pile.
BSK - Right. That's why I'm not going to make my system more complex. There's already little nuisances that don't fit in.
Take the 1947 World Series. Bill Bevens is one out from the first ever postseason no-hitter, when a Brooklyn pinch hitter belts a two-run scoring double for the walk-off win. That's literally the only game in the last 90 year (maybe ever) where one swing ended a no-hitter and gave a team a walk-off win - and it happens in the World Series. That's hard to account for.
In that same series, there's a great catch made on a near-homer by Joe DiMaggio. Hard to quantify that. Great defense in general goes by the wayside here - Joe Rudi's catch in 1972, Dewey Evans in 1975, Sandy Amorous in 1955 - all hard to factor those in.
It's a fun list. It's meant to be more than fun - at least somewhat illluminating. But it sure ain't holy gospel.
I assumed as much. None of this stuff is worth getting bent out of shape for. If people have a better system, even simply subjective rankings, that is totally fine. That is part of the fun of baseball: few questions have definitively "right" answers. I didn't look into the methodology you used, outside of what was inferred in the writeups. My hunch is that some people were factoring in some of the criteria I mentioned, which would explain the issues they might take with your system. Bravo on the effort!
I have an honest question. Do you write for a living or are you a baseball-math-history-loving-guy?
I ask you this because not so long ago I tried to came up with a formula that allow us to measure the game's greatest duos, but it was extremely hard to add up all the intangibles, so I couldn't finish it. Also, I couldn't find the time between my job and my future sluggers.
Congratulations man, great job. I hope you had a great time doing it, as much as I did reading it.
Luis - I'm a history nerd. Gonna teach a three-hour once-a-week course in a little bit (and miss most of tonight's game - so life goes).
Kingturtle - the series with teh most comebacks was the 1995 ALDS between the SEA & NYY. BUT -- that's not quite the question you're asking. The 1995 ALDS had 13 comebacks, but only seven resulted in lead changes.
The most lead changes. I'm gonna mention it in next week's column - "Ranking postseasons, 1995-2011" - but since you've asked, it's the 1997 World Series. 8 lead changes in those ones - all in games the Marlins won.
1985. Showing how the gangster umpires can mess something up so thoroughly and get away with it.
I think by 2030 umpires would be in Valhalla, like pitchers hitting in American league. Personally I think their proper place is the Staten Island waste dump, or the nuclear core of Fuk-u-sima.
(Incidentally, in Japan umpires don't have that kind of power like the Major Leagues; Japanese baseball has entered, more or less, the 21st century while umpire worshippers in this continent still want to stay in the 19th.)
Great article, Chris J., and kudos for answering questions about it both here and on Hardball Times. Not only that, but updating the article in your posts, too.
I can see how the formula can measure certain amounts of excitement (walk-offs, tie games, low scoreing) but obviously can't measure the subjective factors that make a series additionally exciting for fans. This Top 20 could be a neutral baseline to which people apply their subjective feelings towards, making everyone's list different.
Agreeing with both my own subjectivity and Chris's list, I must say that the 2003 ALCS and 2001 World Series were the most exciting series that have I actually watched myself (on TV).
For the mandatory 'BOX' fan caveat, I only got to see 2004 ALCS secondhand since I was out of the country and 'only' following it online and in the papers.
I'm only a casual baseball fan and not a statistician or writer, but I've spent a good deal of my life formally studying history (without that much to show for it yet, really), and wonder if there is a correlation between the numbers of history buffs, historians, and baseball fans...
very interesting article.
a quick non-quant analysis of how good a series was:
if, after being drained by the tension & excitement of it, one gasps, "boy, am i glad that i wasn't rooting for either team".
the 1980 & '86 nlcs were exhausting to watch, and i didn't care who triumphed/survived.
the 1972 alcs, ehh. interesting because of the contretemps, but detroit being there was a bit tainted.
'95 seattle's last four weeks rates with the cards' & devil rays' '11.
thanks for writing,