Easy, kids. Chris Jaffe has identified the worst World Series winners ... but with a twist. He hasn't simply made a list of the World Series winners with the worst records. That would be too easy. Nor has he made a list of the World Series winners with the worst regular-season run differentials. Also too easy.
No, Jaffe has run every World Series winner through a simulation to strip out all the luck. Or as much as possible, anyway. And the results are pretty wild, because when you strip out all the luck you wind up with some wild records. After the jump, the five worst World Series winners since 1969, plus an editorial comment from your intrepid blogger (or whatever I am now) ...
Here they are, with simulated records:
I know some of you think that's impossible, that the '87 Twins couldn't possibly have been, on some deeply fundamental level, a 71-91 team.
Well, you're just flat wrong. It's incredibly naive to think that a team's true talent shows up perfectly in the actual wins or losses, or even in the actual runs scored and allowed. Many of us have moved from wins and losses to run differential, but of course that's just one of the possible steps.
I'm not saying the '87 Twins were exactly a 71-91 team, deep down. The point is that if wins and losses can be deceptive, so can run differentials. And if run differentials can be deceptive, there must be teams that were worse than their records and their run differentials ... and that some of those teams must also have occasionally gotten hot at the right time and won championships.
Still, I suspect that if you're a Twins fan or a Cardinals fan or a Kirk Gibson fan, you're howling right now. How dare Chris Jaffe besmirch the memory of my glorious World Series-winning heroes!
I don't see it that way. My all-time favorite team is the 1985 Kansas City Royals. I lived and died and (ultimately) lived with that team every day and night for nearly seven months. You know what I mean. There wasn't a waking hour when I didn't think about the last game, or the next one.
Granted, I didn't how good they actually were. I knew they were down big at the All-Star break, then stormed into contention and held off the Angels in the season's final weekend. That was good enough for me. It wasn't until months (or years) later that I really understood how awful the Royals' hitting was; they finished 13th in scoring in a 14-team league. They had been outscored in 1984, and would be outscored again in 1986.
In 1985, the Royals rode George Brett, a squad of outstanding young starting pitchers, and a massive helping of good luck to a championship, beating three superior teams -- the Angels, the Blue Jays, and the Cardinals -- along the way. And you know what?
I couldn't care less. All that matters to me is how that team made me feel, and they made me feel fantastic. There's nothing that you or Chris Jaffe or anyone else can say to make feel any less fantastic about that season.
I know you can't all be like me. But I suggest you give it a shot. It's a happier way to live, I think.
Update: Wow, this is embarrassing. I misread Jaffe's article. He wasn't simulating these teams' seasons. He was simulating the World Series teams playing against each other, thus arriving at comparative rankings through head-to-head results. Which means those teams weren't nearly as (fundamentally) lame as I thought. My apologies to you, and my thanks to Rany Jazayerli for pointing out my error.