Friday, September 26, 2014

Postseason Narratives

Here is a link to an article of mine that FanGraphs published today in its Community section. It discusses six narratives you hear this time of year about the kinds of teams that are likely to succeed in the postseason. For each narrative, I explained how I tested it and the results. If you click on the link, you can read the whole thing. If you'd rather just know the results, they are:
  1. Does prior postseason experience matter? There is no evidence to support this claim.
  2. Do veteran players have an edge in the postseason? There is scant evidence to support this claim, and if you exclude one year, 2009, when a bunch of older teams did well, there is no evidence.
  3. How important is momentum leading into the postseason? There is almost no evidence that finishing the season strong makes a difference, and that scant evidence applies only to the Divisional Series. There is no evidence to suggest that the hot team has an edge in the Championship Series or World Series.
  4. Does good pitching stop good hitting? There is almost no evidence to support this claim. In the series in which a good-hitting team played a good-pitching team, the good-hitting team won 49% of the series and good-pitching team won 51%. It was basically a coin flip.
  5. Are teams reliant on home runs at a disadvantage? There is almost no evidence to support this claim, and if you exclude the 2012 postseason, when the low-homer Giants won the Series, there is no evidence.
  6. Is having one or more ace starters an advantage? There is almost no evidence to support this claim, and once again, excluding one year--2001, when the Johnson/Schilling Diamondbacks beat the Clemens/Mussina Yankees--eliminates the slim evidence that exists.
So, to summarize, prior postseason experience doesn't help, having veteran players doesn't help, ending the season strongly doesn't help nor ending it poorly hurt, good pitching doesn't necessarily overcome good hitting, being reliant on home runs for scoring runs doesn't hurt, and having aces in the rotation doesn't help.

Sorry about that. Now, about Santa Claus...

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