Thursday, March 30, 2023


 A very happy Opening Day to you (even if you are reading this after Opening Day). There is so much media--seemingly more than ever before--floating around about the beginning to this particular season, that it can seem...and, in fact, is...overwhelming. 

We'd have suggested that those in-your-face timing rules get modified to 20 seconds for bases empty and 25 seconds with men on base, but that solution is (of course) too simple for the "Ivy Leagued" systems analysts who are the purveyors of "change" to the game this year, as the attempt to give baseball a facelift continues in earnest. What will not change, however, is the outsized emphasis on isolated power ("launch angle") which may be moribund for the theoretical "vanguard" but is still all too much in play as the 2023 season begins. 

While all of that (and stolen bases and the shift yadda yadda yadda) begins to play out, here'a a trifle for you to enjoy that's related to Opening Day as a kind of predictor of what happens at the back end of the season. We say a "kind of" predictor because we don't want to oversell it--this is just another excuse for one of our TimeGrid™ charts to dazzle your eyes and keep our trademark intact. So here goes:

This answers the question (which you know you wanted answered before you even knew what the question was...) that concerns the performance of World Series winners on Opening Day. How many teams that won the World Series also won the first game of the regular season?

This TimeGrid™shows you who did and who didn't (even if it doesn't also tell you the actual World Series winner--you'll just have to trust us when we say that our data is accurate). The Boston Americans in 1903 won their first game before going on to win the first World Series. Likewise for the most recent champ, the 2022 Houston Astros.

In between, they were joined by 74 more teams who have a match between first game of the season and World Series victories. That works out to a match in 65% of the instances. You can see the decade by decade totals/percentages in the columns at the far right; the yearly totals and percentages (years ending in 0, 1, 2...9) are shown in the rows at the bottom of the chart. 

Note the 70% and 61% figures in the lower right. The former represents the percentage of matches for the teams that played from 1903-60, or the pre-expansion era. The latter gives you the percentage of matches for the expansion era (1961-present). 

That match has taken a bit of a hit because there was a real downturn for this "correlation" (more like a superimposition, actually...) around the turn of the century (20th-to-21st). From 1998-2012, only five World Series winners out of fifteen (33%) also won on Opening Day. 

And as the color-coding shows you, the later years in a decade seem to slough off in this regard as well. If the year ends in "8" or "9", the World Series winner is also an Opening Day winner in only 46% of the instances. 

As noted, this is just a trifle that ties together the beginning of the season with its end--which will be here sooner than we think. It certainly won't help you pick the '23 World Series winner, but you might just find yourself interested to look at the playoff teams to see which ones either won or lost on Opening Day, since there is about a two-thirds chance that one of the Opening Day winners is going to be the World Champs. We'll let you know when the time comes...