2020 World Series

Welcome to our post of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays. We’ll start with a preview of the series, and then we can continue the conversation in the comments throughout the week.

As per most of my previews, unlike Doug’s which are interesting and relevant, this is just a pile of random information on baseball history. So I hope you enjoy.

I posted this in the comments of the last thread, but this year was the fifth time in history the two LCS series have both gone the distance, joining 2004, 2003, 1973, and 1972. The latter two were best-of-5 series, so this is just the third time with two best-of-7 series both going the distance. In both ’72 (A’s over Reds) and ’73 (A’s over Mets), the World Series also went the limit. That did not happen in either ’03 (Marlins over Yankees in 6) or ’04 (Red Sox sweep Cardinals). So if this goes 7 games, we’ll have our first ever 21-game postseason wrap-up. 2003 was 20 (a 6-game World Series). So were the first two years of the best-of-7 LCS format: 1985 and 1986 featured a 6-game NLCS, a 7-game ALCS, and a 7-game World Series.

The Rays are making their second-ever World Series appearance. That’s for a franchise that has only existed since 1998, and it’s their second appearance since their name-change in 2008. Here’s how far you have to go back for other franchises two most recent World Series appearances, listed by their second-most recent appearance… because where else are you gonna find this list?:

Los Angeles Dodgers: 2018, 2020
Houston Astros: 2017, 2019
Kansas City Royals: 2014, 2015
Boston Red Sox: 2013, 2018
San Francisco Giants: 2012, 2014
St. Louis Cardinals: 2011, 2013
Texas Rangers: 2010, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays: 2008, 2020
Philadelphia Phillies: 2008, 2009
Detroit Tigers: 2006, 2012
New York Yankees: 2003, 2009
New York Mets: 2000, 2015
Cleveland Indians: 1997, 2016
Miami Marlins: 1997, 2003
Atlanta Braves: 1995, 1999
Toronto Blue Jays: 1992, 1993
Oakland A’s: 1989, 1990
Minnesota Twins: 1987, 1991
San Diego Padres: 1984, 1998
Baltimore Orioles: 1979, 1983
Cincinnati Reds: 1976, 1990
Pittsburgh Pirates: 1971, 1979
Chicago White Sox: 1959, 2005
Chicago Cubs: 1945, 2016
Washington Nationals: (none), 2019
Colorado Rockies: (none), 2007
Los Angeles Angels: (none), 2002
Arizona Diamondbacks: (none), 2001
Milwaukee Brewers: (none), 1982
Seattle Mariners: No appearances.

Kind of a fun list, right? I think it’s nice to see that one fluke year doesn’t zip you to the top of the list. I, for one, wouldn’t have thought you’d see the Tigers ahead of the Yankees on a World Series list, but here they are!

Furthermore, you probably realize that the Tampa Bay Rays changed their name (from the Devil Rays) in 2008. That perfectly corresponds to their first: World Series appearance, division title, winning season, finish better than 4th place, season with more than one All-Star, better-than-average run-scoring, better-than-average run-allowing… pretty much everything. Additionally, since that time, they’ve only had four losing seasons (2014-17), and they won 80 games in two of those years! In these 13 seasons, they have a 1081-924 record, which works out to a winning percentage of .539 – the same winning percentage as the ’84 Tigers after their famous 35-5 start (an 87-win pace). Compare that to the 635-972 record (.399; a 65-win pace) in their first 10 years. They’ve been so much better that, in three additional seasons, they’ve still lost fewer games since the name change. As it turns out, I guess the “Devil” part really was the problem all along. Who knew?

Also, apropos of nothing, the Arizona Diamondbacks had never played less than 162 games in a season prior to 2020 (the Rays had played 161 a couple of times; I was wondering if this distinction might apply to them. Anyway, the Diamondbacks were the only team in MLB to have never had a season of any number of games other than 162. Of course, now everyone has. Anyway, I still think this is crazy: by playing the full 60 this year, the Diamondbacks have still never failed to make up a game due to weather. This is now a 23-year-old franchise, and they’ve never missed a scheduled game! I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s the longest stretch in baseball history.

Anyway, on to the Dodgers. The Boys in Blue have now appeared in three World Series in four years. Here are all the teams to do so since 1901:

1906-1908 Chicago Cubs
1907-1909 Detroit Tigers
1910-1914 Philadelphia A’s (either four-year stretch)
1911-1913 New York Giants
1915-1918 Boston Red Sox
1921-1923 New York Yankees
1921-1924 New York Giants
1926-1928 New York Yankees
1928-1931 St. Louis Cardinals
1929-1931 Philadelphia A’s
1936-1943 New York Yankees
1942-1944 St. Louis Cardinals
1947-1964 New York Yankees (every possible four-year stretch, technically extending to 1965)
1952-1956 Brooklyn Dodgers (either four-year stretch)
1963-1966 Los Angeles Dodgers
1969-1971 Baltimore Orioles
1972-1974 Oakland A’s
1976-1978 New York Yankees
1988-1990 Oakland A’s
1991-1996 Atlanta Braves (if you just pretend that 1994 didn’t exist at all, they made 4/5 World Series in that time, but never 3 out of four years)
1996-2003 New York Yankees (every possible four-year stretch)
2017-2020 Los Angeles Dodgers

In other words, it’s been a little bit since we’ve seen a team do this – the longest such stretch in the history of MLB, as you can see.

Also, as you’re probably aware, the Dodgers led the NL in run scoring (5.82) and run prevention (3.55) in 2020. Here are the other teams to lead their league in both since the leagues expanded to ten teams in 1961-62 (simply because it was both easier with fewer teams, and because I don’t want to work hard enough to find out who the teams were):

2020 Los Angeles Dodgers, 5.82-3.55
2019 Los Angeles Dodgers, 5.47, 3.78
2018 Los Angeles Dodgers, 4.93-3.74
2004 St. Louis Cardinals, 5.28-4.07
2001 Seattle Mariners, 5.72-3.87
1998 New York Yankees, 5.96-4.05
1995 Cleveland Indians, 5.83-4.22
1988 New York Mets, 4.39-3.33
1984 Detroit Tigers, 5.12-3.97
1978 Los Angeles Dodgers, 4.49-3.54
1971 Baltimore Orioles, 4.70-3.35
1970 Baltimore Orioles, 4.89-3.54
1968 Detroit Tigers, 4.09-3.00

I did not have any idea that the Dodgers had done this three years in a row, and their margins have gotten wider every year. Here’s fun math: their offensive growth has slowed by a rate of .19 (r/year/year) over the last three years; their margin of victory has grown by a rate of .08 (r/year/year). If these rates continue, this is what the Dodgers will do over the next four years (Pythagorean records in parentheses):

2021 Los Angeles Dodgers, 5.98-3.05 (129-33)
2022 Los Angeles Dodgers, 5.95-2.28 (141-21)
2023 Los Angeles Dodgers, 5.73-1.24 (155-7)
2024 Los Angeles Dodgers, 5.32-0 (162-0)

So expect the Dodgers to start shutting their opponents out in four years and go undefeated. That has absolutely nothing to do with the 2020 World Series, but it was funny and interesting to me, so I figured I’d include it.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and happy World Series watching! Please feel free to post below!

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Doug
Doug
1 month ago

Glasnow is the first WS starter since Red Ruffing in 1932 with a 6+ SO, 6+ BB and 6+ Run game. Ruffing was also the Game 1 starter, going the distance in the Yankees’ 12-6 rout of the Cubs.

Game 1 is the first in WS history in which both starters struck out 8 or more while pitching 6 innings or less. One starter doing that had happened only 9 times before tonight, and only twice before 2000.

Last edited 1 month ago by Doug
Richard Chester
Richard Chester
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

1932, not 1939 when they played the Reds

Doug
Editor
1 month ago

Thanks for the correction, Richard. I’ve updated the comment.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

Tyler Glasnow in game 1 tied Jason Schmidt’s WS record of 8 strikeouts by a starting pitcher in fewer than 5 IP. Blake Snell extended that record to 9 strikeouts in game 2, the most by a starting or relief pitcher in fewer than 5 IP.

Last edited 1 month ago by Doug
Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

And Urias ties Snell’s mark in game 4.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

You can extend the 1940s Cardinals’ 3 out of 4 run to 1942-46, with both 4-year spans in those 5 seasons. Had there been a World Series from the AL’s beginning, you could add the 1901-03 Pirates to the list.

Doug
Editor
1 month ago

Bellinger is the 13th player to homer in the final game of an LCS and in game 1 of the WS. Of the previous 12 players, 8 played for the eventual WS champion. Of that group of 12, these 5, like Bellinger, homered in an LCS game 7.
2007: Dustin Pedroia
2004: Mark Bellhorn, David Ortiz
1996: Fred McGriff, Andruw Jones

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

Your list of thirteen teams to lead in RS and RA includes only three who were not pennant winners, and one of those (the 2001 Mariners) won the most games in the live ball era. Teams to lead their league in RS and RA before 1961 (all were pennant winners) are: Yankees – 1927, 1936-39, 1942, 1947, 1953, 1957 Cardinals – 1942, 1944, 1946 Cubs – 1906, 1918, 1935 Pirates – 1902, 1960 Red Sox – 1903, 1912 Giants – 1904, 1917 A’s – 1911 Dodgers – 1955 That 2001 Mariners team is one of 5 to lead the majors… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Doug
Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

Thanks for finishing off the list, Doug. The ’88 Mets are the most interesting team on my list, I think. Their runs scored & runs allowed were only (basically) a run per game apart… and they somehow led the league in both? That just seems like a very balanced league. This year’s Dodgers nearly joined your list of teams that led MLB in both. Just four runs separated Cleveland and LA in runs allowed.

Doug
Editor
1 month ago

Through game 2, the Dodgers have struck out 10+ times in a record 5 straight WS games, dating back to 2018. In game 3, they can tie their own single season record streak of 3 games, shared jointly with the 2016 Indians, 2000 Mets and 1929 Cubs. Will have to wait a bit longer to see if they can become the first time to win a WS with three consecutive double-digit strikeout games.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

And the Boys in Blue did make it 6 straight, including the first 3 games of the this WS, before ending the run with a 15 hit, 6 SO performance in game 4.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

The Dodgers in game 2 had zero pitchers with more than 2 IP, the seventh such game in WS history. I’m kind of surprised it’s as many as that.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

Without looking at the list of such performances, I’m guessing most are recent. 5 of the last 9 World Series have gone 7 games (and one of the others went 6)… so it seems to me tighter series means more games; more games mean more opportunities. That’s off-the-cuff, so maybe I’m wrong, but that makes sense to me.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

Unfortunately, Stathead (the new B-R Play Index) doesn’t show the games with zero pitchers; I had to infer the total by subtracting the games with one or more such pitchers from the total number of WS games.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

Wild game 4, to say the least. It was the 157th post-season walk-off game, but first in which the winning run scored directly as a result of an error made at home plate. Also, the first walk-off play in which two errors occurred (according to the MLB and ESPN box scores, but B-R shows only one error).

Rays pitchers struck out six Dodgers, one each by six different pitchers. First time in the WS since 2004 game 1 (three Cardinal pitchers each struck out one Red Sox batter) that a team has had no pitchers with multiple strikeouts.

Last edited 1 month ago by Doug
Doug
Doug
1 month ago

The Rays in game 4 used 3 players at both 1B and 3B, tying the WS record for both positions, and becoming the first team to do both in the same WS game.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

Congrats to the Dodgers on finally getting that monkey off their back.

Julio Urias joins Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers and Jesse Orosco* as pitchers to close out series clinchers in the LCS and WS with 2+ IP and a Win or Save (I put an asterisk beside Orosco as his Win came after first blowing a save opportunity). But none of those pitchers also started a game in each of those series.

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

Not to take anything away from LA, but hopefully the outcome leads to a re-evaluation of the trend of using openers, and limiting starter’s exposure to a lineup. The use of starter Gonsolin as an opener led to wasted use of many LA pitchers in losing efforts in games 2 and 4, and may cause cause confidence problems for him in the future. Taking Snell out while he was dominating, after only 51/3 innings, changed the tide of game 6. Using openers and taking out starters when they show no evidence of weakening is akin to sacrificing with the #3… Read more »

Tom
Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

Correction: Use of Gonsolin as an opener in Game 2 and taking out Urias while he was pitching well in game 4 …
Sorry, the psychological trauma of game 4 is still fresh despite the win.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

I strongly doubt it will lead to any such re-evaluation. I suspect that what has been the trend of the last couple of years will continue: you leave your strongest starters in as long as you can, and you pull your weakest starters as soon as you’re worried. The problem with the idea that Snell was taken out too soon is that there’s no way to prove the counterfactual, right? I mean, you can’t possibly know if he would’ve pitched well as the game continued. This regular season, Snell gave up only two runs in 32 innings in the first,… Read more »

Paul E
Paul E
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

I’ll say this much, “Ben Sheets was a talent”. Oft-injured but, yes, he had talent. For the period 1994-2020, he’s 11th in ERA+ (134) among pitchers with 810+ IP during their age 25-29 seasons. He’s ahead of Verlander, Mussina, Price, Colon, Bumgarner, Greinke, and Trevor Bauer.
He just couldn’t stay healthy

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul E

Total agreement. The first game I ever watched Sheets pitch was the 2000 Gold Medal game for Team USA. My only thought was, “I can’t believe WE get this guy!” I also think the thing that may have pushed me full-throttle into sabermetrics (and thus, to this here website) was Ben Sheets’ 2004 season. He was dynamite (8.25 K:BB ratio, .983 WHIP, 2.70 ERA) and the Brewers were AWFUL (67-94). The Astros, a division foe, were very good (92-70, made the playoffs). Clemens was worse than Sheets – I just KNEW he was. I couldn’t really prove it yet, because… Read more »

Paul E
Paul E
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom
Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul E

Brewer pitchers logged only 209 pitches over 17 shutout innings. Pitching to contact can work, if you locate your pitches well.

Paul E
Paul E
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

Check it out: Did Junior Spivey really make three erros and get picked off 1B? Tough day at Blackrock, cowboy…..

Paul E
Paul E
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

Only one man in MLB history has pitched as many innings as Sheets in 2004 (237 IP) and had a better SO/BB ratio – Curt Schilling in 2002

Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

I guess I was most surprised about Cash’s explanation being nothing more than “third time through the order”. I mean it was an elimination game and his top pitcher is delivering his best game when it matters most. Stick with him until he really shows he’s losing it. And then, in a 1-0 game, to go to a reliever who had allowed a run in each of his last 6 outings. What’s the logic there – he’s due for a shutdown game; not something to bank your season on. I like how Joe Buck said it – maybe managers should… Read more »

John S
John S
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug

Oh, Lord. I feel horrible now. I actually with something John Buck said. (Holds head in his hands and moans)

Tom
Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  John S

I”m with you here. Another symptom of 2020. Buck said something that made sense.