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!