Getting to the MLB postseason seems to be everyone’s goal. Gotta reach the postseason! Even when you get to the postseason, that isn’t enough; you gotta win the World Series! That’s the entire focus of the season. How to win the World Series. Fans say it. Players say it. Owners say it.
Is that really the goal?
Instead of the focus being on the MLB postseason… I’d say I’m more of a fan of the MLB regular season. MLB is unique over other sports by having the most games for their regular season.
NFL: 16 games
MLS: 34 games
NHL: 82 games
NBA: 82 games
MLB: 162 games
MLB has DOUBLE the amount of games.
Benefits from this high number of games
- The reliability of having games every day from April to September. You can count on a game nearly every day, making baseball a staple of daily life. Baseball becomes integrated with the cultural fabric.
- A deep rich set of data to analyze. Better sample size yields more accurate assessments. The long season means stats have time to even out, so you know the standings reflect true talent.
- Better comebacks. A team that loses 10 games in a row can still perform well over the long-haul.
- Exciting record chases. With so many games, players have the opportunity to pursue historic records. Hitting streaks, home run races—you get to follow these for months.
- More opportunity to attend games.
The postseason — while the World Series is totally exciting — sometimes it’s almost a game of luck. Four wins and you are the champion. Which I guess is maybe what makes it exciting.
However, the best team from the regular season doesn’t always win in October. Some people get upset that a team like the Diamondbacks (with a negative run differential) gets into the World Series. Yeah, well, that’s what happens when we open up the postseason to too many teams. Frankly, I don’t care too much who is in the World Series since it’s a lot of luck to weave your way through all the series in the postseason.
The regular season is a better indicator of the quality of a team. The postseason is just extra sauce.
In some ways, I can appreciate the pre-1969 days when the World Series was simply the best team in the NL and the best team in the AL. Certainly, that doesn’t make for as exciting of a season, though. Once your team is far behind the leader in your league, you have no chance of getting to the World Series.
I’m curious what it was like to be a baseball fan in that era, when you knew if your team wasn’t going to the World Series. Did it make people care less during the regular season? Or did their interest in baseball continue simply because they had less sporting entertainment options?
In 2016, it was a magical time when the Cubs had the best record in baseball. There’s something wonderful about saying that phrase, “My team has the best record in baseball.” Saying that phrase proves that this is the best team.
Who has the best record in baseball?
I’ve been meaning to look over MLB’s stats to analyze the teams with the best records in baseball DURING the season. Not just at the end of the season. Therefore, I will factor in every single of the 175,978 MLB games to analyze who was the best team in baseball for that day. That would be about 19,382 days of baseball (from 1901 to today).
I’ll pull together reports like:
- Over the span of all the years, which team had the best record title for the most days. (I’m guessing the Yankees). Which team held the best record for the least days?
- Which season had the most lead changes for best record?
- When was the last time each current team held the best record title? Did any teams never hold the best record?
Someday, I’ll write together the R code to pull that info. (R is a programming language to pull and analyze baseball data)
Thoughts on the 2023 season
The Texas Rangers are now the World Series champions. Congratulations to the Rangers. However, I’ll remember this season more for the team with the best record in 2023—Atlanta Braves, and their team records.
.501 – The Braves team slugging (.501) is the highest ever. They are the only team to reach .500 slugging.
Side-note: Interesting that the 1930 Cubs rank 15th all-time. Prior to 1996, they are the 3rd best (behind the 1927 & 1930 Yankees)
307 – The Braves’ 307 team home runs tied MLB’s single-season homer record (with the 2019 Twins).
7 with 20 – Seven Braves players hit 20 or more home runs, and five topped the 30 mark:
- Matt Olson, 54
- Ronald Acuña Jr., 41
- Marcell Ozuna, 40
- Austin Riley, 37
- Ozzie Albies, 33
- Eddie Rosario, 21
- Sean Murphy, 21
300/100 – Braves became the first team in MLB history to hit 300 homers and steal 100 bases in the same season.
50/50 – The Braves are just the fourth team in MLB history to have a player with 50 or more homers and a player with 50 or more steals in the same season. However, taking it a step further, they are also the first team in MLB history to have a player with 50 or more home runs in the same season another player on the team had 70 or more steals.
(This post was inspired by the Meta-Spiel newsletter issue about exhaustion from the MLB playoffs.)