Comparing The Yankees To The Braves?

I saw a lot of articles like this one, comparing the Yankees to the Braves, for their extensive postseason futility. From 1995-2005, the Braves made the playoffs 11 times and won the World Series once. From 2002-2012, the Yankees made the playoffs 11 times and won the World Series once.

The Yankees’ batting was embarrassingly bad, even though they did well during the regular season.  The slogan is “good pitching beats good hitting”.  During the regular season, teams play every day.  They use their #5 starter and all their relievers.  During the playoffs, there are lots of extra off days.  Instead of using all their pitchers, teams only use their best pitchers, the best starters and the best relievers.  Therefore, a team with 2 great starting pitchers has a huge advantage in the playoffs.  During the regular season, the two best pitchers play 2/5 of the games.  During the playoffs, the two best pitchers play 4/7 of the games.

If someone has a .300 batting average, a lot of those at-bats come against weak pitchers.  Those pitchers don’t play in the playoffs.  A batter will do substantially worse against superstar pitchers.  The superstar pitcher only does slightly worse against great batters.

In the playoffs, the outcome is determined a lot by chance.  Even though it’s a 5 or 7 game series, there’s a huge random element.  There’s a huge luck factor in a short series.  The teams usually are closely matched.  If a team makes the divisional round 8 times, they would (on average) win the World Series once.

The Yankees and Braves seem bad due to their own success.  They made the playoffs every year.  Once in the playoffs, they only have a 1/8 chance of winning the World Series.  When they won 1 time in 11 tries, that’s only slightly below average.  It seems like a huge disappointment, because they made the playoffs every year.  However, the Yankees were embarrassingly bad this year.

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