Friday, July 28, 2017

MLB Tournament of Champions: ALDS Series 2

The MLB Tournament of Champions continues as we resume the Division Series round of the playoffs!

Every series has gotten its own post for each series to get the spotlight, and giving me a chance to go in depth on each game, something I couldn't do during the regular season due to sheer volume. Here in a short series though, it's easy to bring focus onto a handful of games, especially in this critical series.

The 2001 Seattle Mariners are one contender in this set, fresh off a two game sweep of the 1970 Baltimore Orioles thanks to a walk off walk in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series. They won 52 games in the regular season and threatened the AL West title, but couldn't quite pull it off. The sweep puts them just 11 wins away from the promised land, something they fell short of in that legendary 2001 campaign.

They take on the 1995 Cleveland Indians, the best team in the American League from the regular season. Cleveland spent much of April in second place looking up at the 1984 Detroit Tigers before surging into first place in May, then running away with the division, ending up as the first team to punch their postseason ticket, and the first to clinch their division. They even spent some time with the best record in the tournament thanks to a potent lineup and strong starting rotation.

Like many of the postseason matchups, the Indians and Mariners ended up splitting their six games in the regular season, which means this is anyone's series. However, by virtue of having the best record in the AL, the Indians have home field advantage, which will be played in a 2-2-1 format. I am also keeping stats this postseason, which you can view by series and in aggregate here. All simulations are provided by WhatIfSports.com. Let's play some playoff baseball!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

MLB Tournament of Champions: ALDS Series 1

The postseason rolls on in the MLB Tournament of Champions!

I'm making sure to devote one post to every individual series to make sure that they all get the attention they deserve. Today, we're looking at the American League. I'm also starting things off with our series that doesn't involve the Wild Card, because I do want to give the winners of those series an opportunity to rest a little bit.

In this series, on one side we have the 2011 Texas Rangers. A team that came one strike away from winning the 2011 World Series before Cardinal Devil Magic took over, the Rangers spent a little time in first place in the AL West early in the tournament, then suffered a sweep at the hands of the 2001 Mariners to fall into third place. But they hung around and retook the lead in mid to late June and, other than briefly dropping out after a bye, hung on to win the West with one of the better records in the league.

They take on the 2004 Boston Red Sox, a cursebreaking team that started the tournament a little slow, but by mid-May was in first place and for a while, contending for the top spot in the American League. While the Red Sox couldn't keep that pace, they played more than well enough to take the AL East crown by the second to last weekend of the tournament. Their sweep at the hands of the 2005 White Sox hurt their chances, but the Rangers got swept on the final weekend as well, which allows Boston to take home field advantage into this round.

That home field advantage will be in a 2-2-1 format, and I'm glad their records were separated by a game, because these two teams split their regular season series, with the road teams taking four of the six matchups. That might present an advantage to the Rangers, but we'll have to see. I will also be keeping track of stats for this and every round of the postseason, and you can view those here. All simulations are provided by WhatIfSports.com. Let's head down to the field.

MLB Tournament of Champions: NLDS Series 1

We've narrowed the field down from 30 teams at the beginning of April to eight as we begin the Division Series in the Tournament of Champions!

Each series is getting its own post because I want to make sure that they all get their own attention, and this way I can do short writeups for each individual game of the postseason.

Calendar-wise, the two series in this round that don't feature Wild Card teams are getting a one-day head start on the series that do feature the Wild Cards, in an effort to allow for travel and a little bit of rest. That doesn't impact this series over in the National League, however.

On one side, we have the 2007 Colorado Rockies. Colorado was in the mix in the NL West for pretty much the entire regular season, with a short time just outside that spot, but they were ticketed for the postseason from the get-go. Their rotation didn't seem otherworldly, at least looking at their actual stats from 2007, but their offense was lethal, and it propelled them to 52 wins.

They will go up against the 1995 Atlanta Braves. Atlanta was in the mix from the get-go as well, despite a problem with the schedule that forced them to play on 34 straight days, something that Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement prohibits. But the Braves didn't let it bother them as they took home the league's longest winning streak at either 14 or 15 games from May into June, which allowed them to overtake the 1986 New York Mets and win the NL East going away.

These two teams will play a best of five series, with the Braves getting home field advantage in a 2-2-1 format thanks to their better regular season record, which is good because the two teams split their regular season series with three wins apiece. I am also keeping stats for the postseason, which you can view here. All simulations are provided by WhatIfSports.com. Let's get the Division Series underway!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MLB Tournament of Champions: NL Wild Card Series

The postseason of the MLB Tournament of Champions is in full swing as we wrap up the Wild Card Round of the Elimination Stage!

This round is taking a little longer to determine than it would in the actual Major League Baseball postseason because this is a tournament to try to find the greatest team of all time... or at least since 1965. As such, I made this round a best of three instead of a winner take all game. I want to minimize the factor that luck has in determining the winner.

We move over in the National League, where the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, a team I didn't think would really play too much of a factor in this tournament, find themselves as the top Wild Card. They were in the mix all through April and by May had pretty much cemented themselves in second place in the Central division, but were pretty much constantly within striking distance of the division title for the next two months until the 2016 Cubs pulled away. But the Reds locked up a Wild Card fairly quickly after the division was lost, and they have home field advantage in this round.

They'll take on the 1998 San Diego Padres, who struggled for a significant chunk of April before finding their way. San Diego even spent a little time in first place in the West, but wasn't much of a threat for a Wild Card until near the end of the regular season when the 1986 Mets were collapsing, and the Padres swept their final regular season series to grab that second spot. During the regular season, the teams split their six games, with the road team winning every matchup.

So these teams will now play a best-of-three series, with the Reds getting home field advantage due to a better record. That home field advantage will play out in a 1-2 format, with the first game in San Diego and Game 2 (and 3 if necessary) being played in Cincy. I gave all the teams a few days between the end of the regular season and the postseason to allow for some time to set up their starting rotations, which is the only pitching-related issue I can control.

I will also be keeping stats during postseason play with the intent of naming an All Tournament Team when it's all said and done. You can keep track of those stats, both by series and in aggregate, here. All simulations are provided by WhatIfSports.com. Let's get the playoffs started!

Friday, July 21, 2017

MLB Tournament of Champions: AL Wild Card Series

The field is set, and now the postseason portion of the MLB Tournament of Champions can begin!

I'm running the format of the postseason almost identically to how Major League Baseball runs its postseason every year, with one exception. The Wild Card round is being expanded to a three game series instead of a single winner-take-all game. These teams just spent 15 weeks fighting to make it this far, and if I'm trying to find arguably the greatest team of all time (or at least, the past 50-plus years), I need to minimize the factor luck plays.

We work our way over to the American League, where it took an extra day to determine this matchup. The higher seed was locked in a week and a half ago in the form of the 2001 Seattle Mariners, a team who struggled to get off the ground in the first three and a half weeks. But they figured things out, even temporarily grabbing a hold of first place in the West for a short stretch before surrendering that lead to the Oakland Athletics. They hung within striking distance though, even when they fell into third place towards the end of May. Eventually though, the Athletics collapsed and after a brief stint in first again, the Mariners would fall into place as the top Wild Card in the American League.

Seattle's opponent and destination for Wednesday required a 93rd game, as the 1970 Baltimore Orioles and 1998 New York Yankees were tied at 48-44 at the end of the regular season. The Orioles beat the Yankees 6-3 on Monday to advance to this stage after spending the entire tournament in contention, leading the East for the first few weeks before sliding a little bit. Baltimore nonetheless remained within striking distance of the Yankees for second in the division and a Wild Card berth, but needed to make up a game on the final weekend of the season and did so to force that winner-take-all game that they won. And here they are, without the benefit of the DH at home because they played before the advent of the designated hitter, against a team they split their six games with during the regular season.

They get that lack of benefit, if you want to call it that, at home in Game 1 before heading to Seattle for Game 2 and if necessary, Game 3, because of Seattle's better regular season record. With this series starting on Wednesday, it allowed for the teams to set up their rotations to some degree, though the O's had the disadvantage of needing to play that aforementioned Game 93.

I will also be keeping stats for this and all postseason series, with the intent of creating an All Tournament Team when the dust clears. Those stats can be viewed here. All simulations are provided by WhatIfSports.com. Let's play ball!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MLB Tournament of Champions: Elimination Round Reveal

We needed an extra game to do it, but the field is set for the Elimination Round of the MLB Tournament of Champions!

At the beginning of April, 30 teams, one representing each franchise in Major League Baseball, entered our gauntlet of games, and now we've narrowed the field as Major League Baseball does every year, just in a smaller sample size. Below I'll post full standings from the regular season portion of the tournament, with their records from their actual season, their tournament record, and how it would look aggregated into a 162 game season.

This will immediately be followed up with a look at the bracket and the ten teams who are fighting for the title of Champion of Champions.


Monday, July 17, 2017

MLB Tournament of Champions: Regular Season Game 93

I've simulated 1380 games over the last three and a half months. And yet, those 1380 games weren't enough to narrow the field down from our 30 franchise representatives to 10.

I'll have more detail tomorrow once the field is fully set, but the basics of our situation today is this: the National League field is set. The American League has its division champions and top Wild Card, but we have a tie for the second one. As such, we need a one game playoff to determine the winner.

I touched on the basics of setting this game up with regards to home field advantage. The Orioles and Yankees split their eight games in the regular season, so I have to go to the next tiebreaker of total record against playoff teams. The Orioles went 13-13 against the 1995 Indians, 2004 Red Sox, 2011 Rangers, and 2001 Mariners, while the Yankees only managed an 11-15 mark. As such, our tiebreaking game will be played in Baltimore. The other major factor that comes into play with the Orioles involved is that, because of the setup of WhatIfSports and the fact that the 1970 Orioles played before the advent of the designated hitter, this game will be played without one.

This is a pure one-off simulation; I am not doing a best-of-three thing like I do with the Death to the BCS Playoffs. I will, The winner will advance to the American League Wild Card Series. This simulation is provided by WhatIfSports.com. Let's play ball!