Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What historical odds say about Orioles', Giants' chances

The Baltimore Orioles are in a tough spot. They're down 2-0 and now the series heads to Kansas City, against a team with all the momentum and seemingly destiny on their side too.

What are the chances they come back in this series?

This exact scenario, overcoming the 2-0 deficit hitting the road happened three times beginning 1985: 1985 (Royals over Cardinals), 1986 (Mets over Red Sox), 1996 (Yankees over Braves). Another spin: it's happened once since 1986. So, not likely.

I examined MLB postseason results from all seven game series', 1985-present, when the NLCS/ALCS round was changed from five games to seven, to help find out some more clues.

Here's  the chance of winning a series when leading ...

1-0: 66.7%
2-0: 85.7%; 42 series, 14 sweeps, 10 times it ends in Game 5, seven times 2-0 team closes in Game 6, five in Game 7. Twice the team down 0-2 came back to win in six, four times in seven. 
2-1: 76.7%
3-0: 94.1%; 14/17 sweeps, two went to six, Red Sox famously came back in 2004.
3-1: 82.2%: these have been hard to close out. The 3-1 leader wins Game 5 just 42.2% of the time. Typically the 3-1 leader has to close it in 6 (61.5% winning percentage in game) or else they'll lose the series in the seventh (70%).
3-2: 66.7%: The 3-2 leader finishes it off 54.9% of the time in Game 6, but rarely comes back from losing that game (26.1%).

The San Francisco Giants are in a different boat than the Orioles. The series is tied 1-1 and the Giants are coming home. In a seven game series, a tie after two is just as likely as one team winning both.

You'd think stealing home field would be an advantage, but historically it hasn't at this stage in the series. The team that lost home field advantage (1-1 series') actually won 25 of 42 times.

Anyway, the winner of Game X wins the series X percent of the time ...

1: 66.7% (see 1-0 lead)
2: 69%
3: 61.9%: In a tie series, the Game 3 winner actually moves on 73.8% of the time. This has typically been the game a 2-0 series leader drops (59.5% of the time).
4: 70.2%
5: 61.4%: In tie series, Game 5 winner moves on 64% of the time.
6: 88.2%
7: 100% (obviously) ... team at home is 17-6 in this game.

Final point: 5 or 7-game series ... The team that gets to three wins in a 7-game series first hangs on 79.8% of the time.

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