Saturday, October 20, 2012


In the wake of the Detroit Tigers' sweep of the Yankees (and we will chime in here to note with others that the Tigers have had the Yanks' number in the post-season for some time now...), we thought it would be interesting to examine the future fate of teams who've been swept in either the league championship series or in the World Series itself.

The idea was prompted by the hyperbolic reaction to a juxtaposition of two not-necessarily-related facts about the Yankees that swirled around in the wake of their defeat: 1) the advanced age of the team and 2) their astonishingly anemic hitting.

We are talking about teams that made the playoffs but managed to fall very flat. So how have these teams fared in the season following their post-season malfunctions?

(Note we've included the LCS data for the years 1969-92...the thinking here is that these are all teams that either were on the brink of being in the World Series and had a spectacular collapse, or were in the Series and got their proverbial butts kicked. Perhaps later we'll look at flameouts from the more recent LDS data, but we figured that bombing out in the first round might well be less "traumatic.")

So what do we find? Well, as you might suspect, there is pervasive decline to be found here. There are 26 teams who've bombed out in LCS or WS ("bombed out" = "failure to win a single game"). (That's actually 27 with the '12 Yanks, but we don't have their next year data.) Of those 26 teams, 20 (76%) had a lower WPCT in the following year.

On average, these teams played 8 games worse than they did in the previous year of "team make playoff, fall down, go boom."

The teams who lost 4 games played 10 games worse the next year, while the teams that lost 3 games played 5 games worse the next year.

Eight of these teams (30%) made it back to the playoffs in the following year. Five (18%) made it to the World Series, and four of those teams actually won it.

But those teams are all from the best-of-5 LCS format (70-71 Pirates, 71-72 A's, 76-77 Yankees, 84-85 Royals). Teams that get swept in best-of-7 series have a much lower following-year success rate.

So, according to this data, the Yankees are likely to win 8-10 fewer games in '13 than they did this year. Should that happen, they'd most likely miss the playoffs, given that they'd be in the 85-87 win range.

Of the twelve teams who've lost 4 games to get swept in a post-season series, eleven of them have won fewer games in the following season. Only the 1976 Yankees (swept in the World Series by the Big Red Machine) won more games the next year.

So maybe this is the end of these Yankees...