A Brief Review of Recent World Series

The last time I truly felt this apathetic about a World Series was the 2000 Subway Series. Usually team loyalty transfers over in cases like this, yet there is no lesser evil. The Phillies stole a world title from the Rays grasp with an assist from Mother Nature. The Yankees are the Yankees and they signed ol’ Nature to a contract especially for the post-season it seems. So maybe it comes as a relief when I state that everyone knows about the Phillies and Yankees to the point of ad nauseam and rather than previewing those two teams explicitly I wanted to look at the last 10 World Series and circle some interesting – if completely irrelevant – factoids to watch for in this Fall Classic.

Before leaping into the numbers, some notes on the data set.

As previously noted, this only includes World Series from the year 1999 until 2008. I went through the old game logs and noted the margin of victory and the total runs scored. With that data in tow, we can produce – hopefully – entertaining notes. For those in need of a refresher on what teams were involved, they are as follows:

1999: New York Yankees defeat Atlanta Braves
2000: New York Yankees defeat New York Mets
2001: Arizona Diamondbacks defeat New York Yankees
2002: Anaheim Angels defeat San Francisco Giants
2003: Florida Marlins defeat New York Yankees
2004: Boston Red Sox defeat St. Louis Cardinals
2005: Chicago White Sox defeat Houston Astros
2006: St. Louis Cardinals defeat Detroit Tigers
2007: Boston Red Sox defeat Colorado Rockies
2008: Philadelphia Phillies defeat Tampa Bay Rays

First up is the length of each series. No matter the results of games one-through-three, we will have a game four. The real fun – or lack thereof lately – is when games five, six, and sometimes seven are needed to decide a champion. Four series have ended in clean sweeps (1999, 2004, 2005, and 2007); three more have only gone five games; one has endured six games; and the memorable 2001 and 2002 series went all seven.

The average margin of victory is about three runs throughout, with the highest concentration of run differential coming in game ones. Not sure if there’s any significance there, but game ones also generate the highest run per game average as well. That seems a bit odd considering of the 15 games to have 10 or more total runs scored, only three came in game ones; games two and three also appeared on that last three times and game two features the 2002 series in which 21 total runs were scored.

Surprisingly, those 21 runs combined for a one-run game which is more than what most of the blowouts can attest to. In 2001 the Diamondbacks and Yankees combined for 17 runs, but the undercard D-Backs held a 13 run lead at the end of the game – which marks the highest margin of victory in the set. 2002 (game five) and 2007 (game one) tied for second with 12 run disparities. Oddly enough, those are the only three series to feature a margin of victory over 10 runs, and three of the six to see a margin of victory exceed more than five runs.

Of the 51 World Series games, 22 have been decided by a single run and 37 by three runs or fewer. Not all fit under the standard definition of a save situation – i.e. some were come-from-behind or extra inning walkoff victories – which lessens the significance that the two closers could play in the decision.

I’ll echo Dave’s statements from earlier when I say seven closely contested games would be pretty fantastic and the Pedro Martinez fan that lies beneath would enjoy seeing him pitch one more time like it’s 1999.

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Since 1997, the AL is 38-23 in World Series games. Just thought I’d throw that out there.