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How might we measure how great a series is?

Oct 24, 2011, 10:00 AM EDT

JONES

I said last night that this World Series is shaping up to be a classic. But how do I know?

In my case, my gut. At some point while watching Derek Holland make the Cardinals look more foolish than he does with his mustache, it just struck me that I’ve been watching something special.  But Chris Jaffe — in the spirit of Bill James and Joe Posnanski – has tried to come up with a formula that tells us whether what we’re watching is, in fact, fantastic.*

He came up with several factors that make a great postseason series. Walkoff wins, close games, extra innings, multiple elimination games, pitchers duels, lead changes and, of course, the longer the series the better.  At the end of all of that he made a list of the top ten postseason series of all time. For reasons Jaffe explains it’s weighted more heavily in favor of recent series, but given that there are more series now and more seven-game series now than there used to be, that makes sense. It’s also worth noting that anyone under 40 — which I suspect is the majority of HBT readership — didn’t see many series before the 1980s anyway, so it’s hard for us to criticize.

I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised at the series that ranked number one. But in thinking about it, yeah, it was damn, damn exciting and stomach-churning and all of that.

I’m sure your mileage will vary, but I sort of like this little formula, if for no other reason than because it made me think of some postseason series I haven’t thought about much lately.

 

*Please, save your “statheads take all the fun out of baseball” outrage. Anyone who has read James, Posnanski or Jaffe realizes that these kinds of formulas are themselves designed to be fun. James himself has always admitted that many of his metrics were for nothing but the giggles and yuks — he called one of them his “favorite toy” — and no one but the ignorant haters out there can honestly suggest that these sorts of exercises are either calculated to take the fun and wonder out of the game or that, in practice do so.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    2001 World Series was the best series I ever saw. Especially since the three-peating Yankees lost. And it was the greatest closer of all time who finally was defeated on a broken bat single by a guy so shot up with steroids that the pictures of him celebrating after the game looked like he was straight off the cover of Weightlifting magazine.

    • aceshigh11 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM

      I remember being so aggravated that the Yankees were on the verge of winning yet again that I threw my remote against the wall and went to take a shower.

      My roommate at the time was a die-hard Yankees fan, and I heard him howling in rage from his room…imagine my surprise when I turned the TV back on to see the Diamondbacks celebrating.

      I just wish I had seen it in real-time.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      http://www.azvibe.com/gonzalez.jpg

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:58 AM

        Wow…I can’t believe as a fan I never smelled something fishy until a few years later. That picture is nuts.

    • kopy - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      Did you not watch the 1991 series?

      • kopy - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM

        I hadn’t checked the link when I wrote that, but like the article itself says, it’s not surprising at all that it’s highest scoring “greatest” fall classic.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        Twins-Braves? LOL, nah I was 20 and out partying. By 2001, I was married the first time doing anything I could to get away from the misery. And for Aces…man, I felt the same way but with how the series was, I wasn’t going to turn that sucker off until the final out was made. Not saying I knew Mo would get hit that night…I just didn’t turn it off. And thanks for the pic, rolling. That was the one I was thinking of. How anybody could get indignant when EVERYBODY saw pics like that make it all the more shameful the hindsight those a-hole BBWAA hall of fame voters are NOW using when they all saw the same pics we did and said NOTHING about it at the time. Absolutely pathetic.

  2. Jonny 5 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Braves bias much?? You Homer!!! You!!!

    “Please, save your “statheads take all the fun out of baseball” outrage. Anyone who has read James, Posnanski or Jaffe realizes that these kinds of formulas are themselves designed to be fun. James himself has always admitted that many of his metrics were for nothing but the giggles and yuks — he called one of them his “favorite toy” — and no one but the ignorant haters out there can honestly suggest that these sorts of exercises are either calculated to take the fun and wonder out of the game or that, in practice do so.”

    BTW, if a person is deeply rooted into Sabermetrics, they must have been, and still must be a super fan of baseball of the rarest variety to decide to dissect it so thoroughly. I highly doubt anyone who realizes this could throw out that implication with a straight face. Ya know if they aren’t an attorney or politician anyway. (not meant as a jab Craig, it is what it is..)

  3. aceshigh11 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    I’m amazed the ’86 World Series isn’t on this list.

    • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      The ’86 World Series is indeed on the list. We just can’t see it. But we know it’s there – the same way we know that dark matter is there.

  4. cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Interesting point awards system used to decide on the scoring. But, he’s wrong. Why? Because he forgot one; walk off, 3 run homer to win the game when down by 1; 20 points. If the pitcher falls down with every pitch; 3 points. If the winner keeps Dykstra’s slimy paws off the trophy: a bajillion points. Thus the best series ever was the 1993 WS.

    • aceshigh11 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      The Joe Carter home run is indeed epic. What could be better than a walk off home run to win the World friggin’ Series?

      • cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        Need I say totally, TOTALLY agree? And keeping Dykstra away from the trophy, well that’s just sooo sweet.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

        Just Keep rubbing in the salt there fellas……… “Cough! Roy Halladay Cough! Cough!”

        Excuse me, where was I again? Oh….

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:28 AM

        Not just for the f’ing Carter HR, that series was amazing for any number of reasons. Wild Thing blowing even bigger leads earlier in series. Schilling stopping the bleeding in one of the greatest postseason performances of all time. Toronto had 3 hall of famers in their lineup…Molitor, Alomar, and Henderson. Amazing series.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        Wild Thing had no business pitching in Game 6, with an 87mph fastball. Roger Mason should have been left in. I’ll still never forget when Mitch was warming up and they showed Carter and Alomar laughing because they knew they were going to tune him up.

        I never forgave Fregosi for leaving Williams in. Lousy bum. Pond scum.

  5. sdelmonte - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Surprised that the ’60 WS scored so low, but then I know that it was one weird series, with a Yankees team that was really so much better than the Pirates. Still, Maz’s home run is one of a kind.

    Will also cast a vote for the 1912 WS based entirely on Glenn Stout’s entertaining new book about Fenway Park’s first season.

  6. Kyle - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Happy to see the Mariner’s make the list in ’95. That series almost killed me at the young age of 9.

  7. spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Good fodder for discussion, but as mentioned, the Pittsburgh/Yankee match-up has to rate up there, along with the 1957 Braves/Yankee series, but the one I still treasure as my favorite, and of course I am biased, but the 1964 Cards over the Yankees in 7, with Gibson finishing strong will always be on the top of my list.

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