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Mailbag: World Series Winners and ERA Leaders

Posted by Neil Paine on November 3, 2010

As you probably know, the 2010 Giants won the World Series after leading the majors in Earned Run Average during the regular season. So here's a recent question from B-R reader Joshua Rosenstock:

"How many times has the team that led the MLB in ERA won the World Series?"

Let's go to the data...

Year Lg WS Winner W L ERA Lg ERA Leader W L ERA Same Team?
2010 NL San Francisco Giants 92 70 3.36 NL San Francisco Giants 92 70 3.36 1
2009 AL New York Yankees 103 59 4.28 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 95 67 3.41 0
2008 NL Philadelphia Phillies 92 70 3.89 AL Toronto Blue Jays 86 76 3.49 0
2007 AL Boston Red Sox 96 66 3.87 NL San Diego Padres 89 74 3.70 0
2006 NL St. Louis Cardinals 83 78 4.54 AL Detroit Tigers 95 67 3.84 0
2005 AL Chicago White Sox 99 63 3.61 NL St. Louis Cardinals 100 62 3.49 0
2004 AL Boston Red Sox 98 64 4.18 NL Atlanta Braves 96 66 3.74 0
2003 NL Florida Marlins 91 71 4.04 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 85 77 3.16 0
2002 AL Anaheim Angels 99 63 3.69 NL Atlanta Braves 101 59 3.13 0
2001 NL Arizona Diamondbacks 92 70 3.87 AL Seattle Mariners 116 46 3.54 0
2000 AL New York Yankees 87 74 4.76 NL Atlanta Braves 95 67 4.05 0
1999 AL New York Yankees 98 64 4.13 NL Atlanta Braves 103 59 3.63 0
1998 AL New York Yankees 114 48 3.82 NL Atlanta Braves 106 56 3.25 0
1997 NL Florida Marlins 92 70 3.83 NL Atlanta Braves 101 61 3.18 0
1996 AL New York Yankees 92 70 4.65 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 90 72 3.48 0
1995 NL Atlanta Braves 90 54 3.44 NL Atlanta Braves 90 54 3.44 1
1993 AL Toronto Blue Jays 95 67 4.21 NL Atlanta Braves 104 58 3.14 0
1992 AL Toronto Blue Jays 96 66 3.91 NL Atlanta Braves 98 64 3.14 0
1991 AL Minnesota Twins 95 67 3.69 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 93 69 3.06 0
1990 NL Cincinnati Reds 91 71 3.39 AL Oakland Athletics 103 59 3.18 0
1989 AL Oakland Athletics 99 63 3.09 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 77 83 2.95 0
1988 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 94 67 2.96 NL New York Mets 100 60 2.91 0
1987 AL Minnesota Twins 85 77 4.63 NL San Francisco Giants 90 72 3.68 0
1986 NL New York Mets 108 54 3.11 NL New York Mets 108 54 3.11 1
1985 AL Kansas City Royals 91 71 3.49 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 95 67 2.96 0
1984 AL Detroit Tigers 104 58 3.49 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 75 87 3.11 0
1983 AL Baltimore Orioles 98 64 3.63 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 91 71 3.10 0
1982 NL St. Louis Cardinals 92 70 3.37 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 88 74 3.26 0
1981 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 63 47 3.01 NL Houston Astros 61 49 2.66 0
1980 NL Philadelphia Phillies 91 71 3.43 NL Houston Astros 93 70 3.10 0
1979 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 98 64 3.41 NL Montreal Expos 95 65 3.14 0
1978 AL New York Yankees 100 63 3.18 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 95 67 3.12 0
1977 AL New York Yankees 100 62 3.61 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 98 64 3.22 0
1976 NL Cincinnati Reds 102 60 3.51 NL New York Mets 86 76 2.94 0
1975 NL Cincinnati Reds 108 54 3.37 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 88 74 2.92 0
1974 AL Oakland Athletics 90 72 2.95 AL Oakland Athletics 90 72 2.95 1
1973 AL Oakland Athletics 94 68 3.29 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 95 66 3.00 0
1972 AL Oakland Athletics 93 62 2.58 AL Baltimore Orioles 80 74 2.53 0
1971 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 97 65 3.31 AL Baltimore Orioles 101 57 2.99 0
1970 AL Baltimore Orioles 108 54 3.15 AL Baltimore Orioles 108 54 3.15 1
1969 NL New York Mets 100 62 2.99 AL Baltimore Orioles 109 53 2.83 0
1968 AL Detroit Tigers 103 59 2.71 NL St. Louis Cardinals 97 65 2.49 0
1967 NL St. Louis Cardinals 101 60 3.05 AL Chicago White Sox 89 73 2.45 0
1966 AL Baltimore Orioles 97 63 3.32 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 95 67 2.62 0
1965 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 97 65 2.81 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 97 65 2.81 1
1964 NL St. Louis Cardinals 93 69 3.43 AL Chicago White Sox 98 64 2.72 0
1963 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 99 63 2.85 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 99 63 2.85 1
1962 AL New York Yankees 96 66 3.70 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 93 68 3.37 0
1961 AL New York Yankees 109 53 3.46 AL Baltimore Orioles 95 67 3.22 0
1960 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 95 59 3.49 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 82 72 3.40 0
1959 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 88 68 3.79 AL Chicago White Sox 94 60 3.29 0
1958 AL New York Yankees 92 62 3.22 NL Milwaukee Braves 92 62 3.21 0
1957 NL Milwaukee Braves 95 59 3.47 AL New York Yankees 98 56 3.00 0
1956 AL New York Yankees 97 57 3.63 NL Milwaukee Braves 92 62 3.11 0
1955 NL Brooklyn Dodgers 98 55 3.68 AL New York Yankees 96 58 3.23 0
1954 NL New York Giants 97 57 3.09 AL Cleveland Indians 111 43 2.78 0
1953 AL New York Yankees 99 52 3.20 AL New York Yankees 99 52 3.20 1
1952 AL New York Yankees 95 59 3.14 NL Philadelphia Phillies 87 67 3.07 0
1951 AL New York Yankees 98 56 3.56 AL Cleveland Indians 93 61 3.38 0
1950 AL New York Yankees 98 56 4.15 NL Philadelphia Phillies 91 63 3.50 0
1949 AL New York Yankees 97 57 3.69 AL Cleveland Indians 89 65 3.36 0
1948 AL Cleveland Indians 97 58 3.22 AL Cleveland Indians 97 58 3.22 1
1947 AL New York Yankees 97 57 3.39 AL New York Yankees 97 57 3.39 1
1946 NL St. Louis Cardinals 98 58 3.01 NL St. Louis Cardinals 98 58 3.01 1
1945 AL Detroit Tigers 88 65 2.99 AL Washington Senators 87 67 2.92 0
1944 NL St. Louis Cardinals 105 49 2.67 NL St. Louis Cardinals 105 49 2.67 1
1943 AL New York Yankees 98 56 2.93 NL St. Louis Cardinals 105 49 2.57 0
1942 NL St. Louis Cardinals 106 48 2.55 NL St. Louis Cardinals 106 48 2.55 1
1941 AL New York Yankees 101 53 3.53 NL Brooklyn Dodgers 100 54 3.14 0
1940 NL Cincinnati Reds 100 53 3.05 NL Cincinnati Reds 100 53 3.05 1
1939 AL New York Yankees 106 45 3.31 NL Cincinnati Reds 97 57 3.27 0
1938 AL New York Yankees 99 53 3.91 NL Chicago Cubs 89 63 3.37 0
1937 AL New York Yankees 102 52 3.65 NL Boston Bees 79 73 3.22 0
1936 AL New York Yankees 102 51 4.17 NL New York Giants 92 62 3.46 0
1935 AL Detroit Tigers 93 58 3.82 NL Chicago Cubs 100 54 3.26 0
1934 NL St. Louis Cardinals 95 58 3.69 NL New York Giants 93 60 3.19 0
1933 NL New York Giants 91 61 2.71 NL New York Giants 91 61 2.71 1
1932 AL New York Yankees 107 47 3.98 NL Chicago Cubs 90 64 3.44 0
1931 NL St. Louis Cardinals 101 53 3.45 NL New York Giants 87 65 3.30 0
1930 AL Philadelphia Athletics 102 52 4.28 AL Washington Senators 94 60 3.96 0
1929 AL Philadelphia Athletics 104 46 3.44 AL Philadelphia Athletics 104 46 3.44 1
1928 AL New York Yankees 101 53 3.74 NL Brooklyn Robins 77 76 3.25 0
1927 AL New York Yankees 110 44 3.20 AL New York Yankees 110 44 3.20 1
1926 NL St. Louis Cardinals 89 65 3.67 AL Philadelphia Athletics 83 67 3.00 0
1925 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 95 58 3.87 NL Cincinnati Reds 80 73 3.38 0
1924 AL Washington Senators 92 62 3.34 NL Cincinnati Reds 83 70 3.12 0
1923 AL New York Yankees 98 54 3.62 NL Cincinnati Reds 91 63 3.21 0
1922 NL New York Giants 93 61 3.45 AL St. Louis Browns 93 61 3.38 0
1921 NL New York Giants 94 59 3.55 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 90 63 3.17 0
1920 AL Cleveland Indians 98 56 3.41 NL Brooklyn Robins 93 61 2.62 0
1919 NL Cincinnati Reds 96 44 2.23 NL Chicago Cubs 75 65 2.21 0
1918 AL Boston Red Sox 75 51 2.31 AL Washington Senators 72 56 2.14 0
1917 AL Chicago White Sox 100 54 2.16 AL Chicago White Sox 100 54 2.16 1
1916 AL Boston Red Sox 91 63 2.48 NL Brooklyn Robins 94 60 2.12 0
1915 AL Boston Red Sox 101 50 2.39 NL Philadelphia Phillies 90 62 2.17 0
1914 NL Boston Braves 94 59 2.74 AL Boston Red Sox 91 62 2.36 0
1913 AL Philadelphia Athletics 96 57 3.19 AL Chicago White Sox 78 74 2.33 0
1912 AL Boston Red Sox 105 47 2.76 NL New York Giants 103 48 2.58 0
1911 AL Philadelphia Athletics 101 50 3.01 NL New York Giants 99 54 2.69 0
1910 AL Philadelphia Athletics 102 48 1.79 AL Philadelphia Athletics 102 48 1.79 1
1909 NL Pittsburgh Pirates 110 42 2.07 NL Chicago Cubs 104 49 1.75 0
1908 NL Chicago Cubs 99 55 2.14 AL Cleveland Naps 90 64 2.02 0
1907 NL Chicago Cubs 107 45 1.73 NL Chicago Cubs 107 45 1.73 1
1906 AL Chicago White Sox 93 58 2.13 NL Chicago Cubs 116 36 1.75 0
1905 NL New York Giants 105 48 2.39 AL Chicago White Sox 92 60 1.99 0
1903 AL Boston Americans 91 47 2.57 AL Boston Americans 91 47 2.57 1

San Francisco's 2010 victory represented just the 21st time the ML ERA leader went on to win the World Series, and the first time it happened since the Atlanta Braves accomplished both feats in 1995.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 at 12:43 pm and is filed under History, Mailbag, Postseason. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Mailbag: World Series Winners and ERA Leaders”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I wonder how the answer changes if you look at ERA+ leaders.

  2. Or how about the ERA of a team's Big 5:

    Starter1
    Starter2
    Starter3
    Set-Up
    Closer

  3. The post says "just the 21st" time, implying that it is less than expected. But, is that a fair expectation? There have been 106 (or is it 107?) WS, meaning the top ERA team has won 1/5th of the time. Obviously, that is far more than would be expected if the winners were evenly distributed amongst the different finishing places in the ERA. But that, certainly, would not be fair to expect. So, my follow-up question is, is 21 times less than would be expected? More? Just about right? Is there even a way to calculate what a "fair" expectation is?

    What might be interesting to look at is to look at percentiles and figure out the success of teams in the top 10% of ERA versus the top 10% in runs scored (and perhaps various other metrics). That might be getting at something very different, but it might indicate where there seem to be concentrations of success.

  4. If run-prevention is half of the game, it seems like the best team at that should do better than 21-for-106. But maybe that's just perception... Having the best ERA may not mean you're the most skilled at preventing runs (it could be an illusion of park effects), and besides, Bill James found that the overall best team in baseball only should expect to win the WS 29% of the time anyway (the way baseball was structured in the late 1980s, at least). So maybe 20% for the ERA champs is actually unexpectedly high.

  5. Well...it's clear that it hasn't happened nearly as frequently since division play began...only five times in 41 seasons (1969-2010), or 12%. Prior to that, it happened twice as frequently...16 times in 66 seasons, or 24%.

    Can we say that great pitching used to get you farther than it does today? Even if so, I'd take my chances with it.

  6. Johnny Twisto Says:

    In 38 seasons since the DH, it is more likely that an NL team will lead in ERA, but only about a 50/50 chance the NL team will win the Series.

    It would also be interesting -- perhaps a better question -- to see how often the team with lowest RA wins.

  7. The DH definitely complicates things. I misread the initial post and thought it was the league-leader, not the Majors.

    My assumption was that it would be less frequent once divisional play began, since more teams get in the playoffs and there is likely to be more variance.

    ERA is also not the ideal stat, as pointed out. ERA+ or RA or something else might be better.

    We also run into the possibility of splitting hairs when looking at only the league-leader. If Team A leads with a 3.20 ERA and scores 3.5 Rs/G and Team B has a 3.21 and scores 4.5/Rs/G, we wouldn't really expect Team A to be the favorite. There are also different "degrees" to leading, meaning that a team may dominate the league in ERA or may finished slightly ahead of a tightly packed group. Standard Deviation might be better.

    All-in-all, it's interesting to see that it's happened about 20% of the time. I would have guessed less often, to be honest.

  8. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    In 38 seasons since the DH [began], it is more likely that an NL team will lead in ERA

    Quite an understatement, JT. An NL team has led the majors in team ERA in 33 of those seasons, an AL team in only five.

  9. I would prefer to see the question changed to league leader. Then my 1969 Mets would qualify.

  10. Mike Felber Says:

    Yes, ERA +, RA & standard deviation would be better. As would comparing this to offensive production leaders. But 1/5 of the time seems very high: recall that there are usually many other teams close to the leader, & many other aspects of the game, chiefly offense. I would not have though it would be more than 10% of the time, maybe less!

    And note the 3 #1 matches right after WW2, & 3 more '40-'44. Coincidence, or did the dilution of talent related to the war mean that good pitching was especially scarce & valuable?

  11. I think ERA+ and League Leaders instead of ERA and Major League leaders would be a better measurement.

    Also, it was much easier to lead the Majors when there were only 16 teams pre-1961 as compared to the 24-30 Teams we've had since 1969.

    It would be interesting to see how many times a team has led the majors in ERA and Lost the world series. I know the Orioles led the Majors in '69 and tied for the lead in '71 and ended up losing both World Series. The '92 & '99 Braves led the Majors and lost the World Series.

  12. TapDancingTeddy Says:

    The progression of the winners shows a recent lessening of matches post DH.

    I agree that the DH has to be taken into account, and ERA+ is probably a better measurement.

    2010 NL San Francisco Giants
    1995 NL Atlanta Braves
    1986 NL New York Mets
    1974 AL Oakland Athletics
    1970 AL Baltimore Orioles
    1965 NL Los Angeles Dodgers
    1963 NL Los Angeles Dodgers
    1953 AL New York Yankees
    1948 AL Cleveland Indians
    1947 AL New York Yankees
    1946 NL St. Louis Cardinals
    1944 NL St. Louis Cardinals
    1942 NL St. Louis Cardinals
    1940 NL Cincinnati Reds
    1933 NL New York Giants
    1929 AL Philadelphia Athletics
    1927 AL New York Yankees
    1917 AL Chicago White Sox
    1910 AL Philadelphia Athletics
    1907 NL Chicago Cubs
    1903 AL Boston Americans

    Using ERA+ might show why the 1950's had only one instance and the 1940's had six.