Friday, July 07, 2006

Late Season Records vs. Expected

You've heard TV and radio announcers say it a million times:

"The teams that get hot in September are the ones to look out for in the playoffs."

Like many things announcers say, it's important not to simply assume they are correct. For this mini-study, I took a look at the last 15 World Series participants and compared their overall regular season record to their record in September and October. I would expect their late season record to be pretty close to their overall record. Let's see if that's the case:



These teams have actually performed slightly worse than expected, winning about 9 less games than expected in the 867 games they've played in September and October. There's about a 30% chance (rough estimate) of that occurring simply by chance but I wouldn't be surprised if other factors contributed to that. For instance, teams that have already clinched a post season birth might rest much of their talent in the week(s) prior to the playoffs.

Regardless of the reasons, what a team does late in the regular season hasn't appeared to be any more important than any other part of the season, with respect to their chances of getting to the World Series. While this is by no means a comprehensive study, I would be suprised if there's any statistical evidence of teams carrying hot streaks into the playoffs.

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