Friday, April 10, 2009

And Now You Know!: Starting Off

I always get hyped up for the beginning of the baseball season. 30 teams starting off and constant sports action everyday. But there are 162 games in the season so does it really matter what happens in April? Aside from making money, should MLB look into changing the season length?

I examined the World Series competitors over the past 23 years (not including 1994, of course) and looked at how the teams started the season. I was curious to see if a team started off slow, could they recover and make it to the playoffs?

Just as I had expected though, what a team did in their first game of the season had no correlation to what happened in October. Of the 46 teams to compete in the last 23 world series, about 60% of them started off their season with a victory, not really an overwhelming number when trying to decided if winning in week one matters.

Looking past the first game, it was about the same percentage of teams that had a win % in their first week of the season. So even if a team had a losing week to kick off the year, they still had a chance at getting to the World Series and even winning it.

Here's where some stats stand out. Only twice has a team been swept in their first series and gone on to play in the World Series and only once had a team won the World Series. On the other hand, roughly 1 out of every 4 teams making the World Series had swept their opponent in the first series of the year.

Expanding the start of the season stats out to the first three weeks of the season, a lot more is to be said about teams that win. Since the inception of the Wild Card in 1995, only five teams have had a losing record through the first three weeks of the season and gone on to make it to the World Series.

So what do we take from all of this? Cleveland and Washington have an uphill battle after starting the year being swept while Florida and Texas and sitting comfortably in the driver's seat. Could we see a Marlins/Rangers World Series? Well it is no coincidence that both those teams lead the league in runs scored thus far. Sadly both these teams were in the bottom of the league in attendance last year.

For the nay-sayers who claim that the season is too long and that games in April don't matter, keep an eye on teams that start off slow, because they probably won't matter come October.

And Now You Know! (And Knowing is Half the Battle)

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