Sunday, July 29, 2018

What is a Dynasty in the MLB?

This post was triggered by the fact that there are still people who are vehemently against crediting the Giants with being a dynastic team, when they won 3 of 5.  So I decided to approach this topic, from an objective viewpoint, and see if I (and many others) are wrong to call that era a dynasty.

ogc thoughts

Of course, the talk of dynasties stretched from the Celtics of the 50's/60's, Bulls with Jordan, as well as the Yankees since Babe Ruth.  But that's also part of the problem, trying to compare apples to oranges, the NBA is a totally different beast, as well as the Yankees, when they were able to outspend everyone for the top amateur talents available.  So I thought some definition of the methodology would be a good place to start.

Definition and Methodology

First off, obviously, stay within the MLB.  Each sport has their own quirks and circumstances that govern whether a team can be dynastic within the confines of their sport.  In basketball (as well as football and hockey), one dominant player can tip the scale for their team.  Bill Russell, Wilt the Stilt, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Duncan, Curry in NBA.  Starr, Bradshaw, Montana, Roethlisberger, Manning, Brady in NFL.  Gretsky, Crosby (and others, not as up on their star players) in NHL.  In baseball, not as much, you really need a team of stars and complementary parts, to win.

Second, baseball is significantly different today than it was when the Yankees were "ruining" baseball in the 50's.  There is a draft now.  There are now three divisions in each league, 30 teams in total, vs. 16.  And the money is crazy different, there are now many teams that could spend close enough to what the Yankees spend, to make the difference minimal.

I would say that the biggest difference today with regards to the definition of dynasties in the MLB is the divisional playoff format, which started up in 1969, doubling the participants from 2 to 4, then in 1995, expansion from 4 teams to 8, and then lastly in 2012, when the wild card became a play-in, expanding to 10 teams.

Obviously, if we start from 1995, that would pretty much pre-ordain that the Giants are a modern dynastic team, as only the Yankees and Giants are the only teams to have won at least 3 of 5 from 1995 to today.  So I took a look at the full history of MLB Divisional Playoffs.

Teams That Have Won Multiple Times

Given that we are starting from 1969, there has been 49 World Series champions.

For teams that have won 3 in a row, that provides us 47 champions that could have accomplished this feat.  Here are the teams that have won 3 in a row from 1969 to today:
  • A's:  1972, 1973, 1974
  • Yankees:  1998, 1999, 2000
That's 2 of 47, or 4.3%.

For teams that have won at least 3 of 5, that provides us 45 champions that could have accomplished this feat.  Here are the teams that have won at least 3 of 5 from 1969 to today:
  • A's:  1972, 1973, 1974 (3 of 3)
  • Yankees:  1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 (4 of 5)
  • Giants:  2010, 2012, 2014 (3 of 5)
That's 3 of 45, 6.7%.

For teams that have won 2 in a row, that provides us 48 champions that could have accomplished this feat.  Here are the teams that have won at least 2 of 3 from 1969 to today:
  • A's:  1972-73
  • A's:  1973-74
  • Reds:  1975-76
  • Yankees:  1977-78
  • Blue Jays: 1992-93
  • Yankee's:  1998-99
  • Yankee's:  1999-2000
That's 7 of 48, or 14.6%, which more than double the total.

For teams that have won 2 of 3, that provides us 47 champions that could have accomplished this feat.  Here are the teams that have won at least 2 of 3 from 1969 to today:
  • A's:  1972-73
  • A's:  1973-74
  • Reds:  1975-76
  • Blue Jays: 1992-93
  • Yankee's:  1998-99
  • Yankee's:  1999-2000
  • Giants:  2010, 2012
  • Giants:  2012, 2014
That's 8 of 47, 17.0%.

Adding teams that won 2 of 4 to the list of 2 of 3 would add these teams:
  • Red Sox:  2004, 2007
That's 9 of 46, 19.6%, which is exponentially higher than the teams that had won 3 in 5 (or less).

Analysis

One can chose the parameters to get the result that they want.  If you want to leave the Giants out, one could easily just chose to recognize only those teams that won in consecutive years.  Giants fan obviously would want the standard to be 3 in 5 years, as that would automatically mean that the Giants  are included.  So what should objective standards look like?

Scarcity would seem to be an objective qualifier.  So I examined other sports to see what their norms are.  I know I separated them above, but I still thought it would be instructive to examine how frequent these periods of dominance are.  And amazingly to me, the results are very similar.

For the NFL, there has never been a 3 of 3.  The Cowboys and Pats both have had 3 of 4 Super Bowls, that's only two, very exclusive.  The 49er's had 4 in 9 Super Bowls, 3 of 6 as well, and 3 of 7, so if you include them, that's still only three, still very exclusive.  But once you stretch it out to 2 championships, similar to baseball, there is a huge increase on the number of teams one would include, as there has been 11 teams with at least 2 of 4, 7 with two in a row, out of 52 championships. 

For the NBA, the Celtics are the gold standard for the major professional sports with 8 in a row, 10 of 11, 12 of 18.  They also had 3 of 6 soon after.  The Lakers had two three-peat , once in 1952-54 and another from 2000-2002.  The Bulls did that twice too, 1991-1993 and 1996-1998.  Plus the Lakers won in 1985 and 1987-88.  That's 3 teams, with 4-6 eras, depending on how you want to break them up.  Warriors are next with 3 in 4, 2015 plus 2017-18, and will likely join the above (and if they can win again, they join elite status with Celtics with 4 during their dynasty).  Once you get to 2 wins, again, membership balloons upward, with 13 team eras, where the group won at least 2 together in a few years. 

I was right in my thinking that there would be a lot more dominating teams in the NBA and NFL, but it wasn't as bad as I had thought.  The NBA did have more dominating team eras with 13, than the MLB with 9, but I thought it would be worse (and it would be if you break up the Celtics glorious 18-run into individual eras of dominance, one could break into 3, easily, and potentially a lot more).  The NFL was not as bad as I had thought, as I was aware of a lot of 2-Win teams, but there was not as many as I had feared, with 11 (I broke the 49ers into two eras, one 1982/85, other 89/90;  I also counted Raiders 81/84 and Steelers 06/09 as an era). 

Three is the Magic Number

So for the major sports, 3 seems to be the magic number.  Looking at 3 (or more) wins in a short period is a very exclusive club, basically three members in each of the major sports.  Once you lower the standard to 2 wins in a short period, the membership of teams explode upward:  MLB from 3 to 9, NFL from 3 to 11, NBA from 3 (representing 4-6 different eras of dominance) teams to 13 dominant team eras.  It is relatively common to get 2 championships, but 3 has been exceedingly hard to attain.

So the Giants appear, historically, relative to the MLB and compared to other major professional sports, to have been a dynastic team, winning 3 of 5.  They are not up there with the 3 in 3's, which is even rarer and an exclusive club, but rareness is still there when the Giants are included.  It is once you get down into the two championships that there is a huge explosion in the number of members, and exclusivity should be the key here.  And winning 3 championships within a short period of time is very exclusive, whereas 2 championships exponentially grows the size of the membership. 

And if anyone excludes the Giants, either because they didn't win three in a row, or failed to get into the playoffs in the years in-between, that just shows their bias against the team.  Wining 3 championships in a short period is exceedingly rare, whether you do in consecutively, or with a break or two inside.  Just another way to identify those who are Naysayers, either of the Giants or of Sabean. 

5 comments:

  1. In Today's game, with 30 teams, winning 3 in 5 years, is a dynasty. Giants may have won a lot of close games those years but they still won.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here's the thing that really seems to aggravate people when considering the 10-14 as a Dynasty: They were just never dominant teams.

    To that point, MadBum said in an interview (after his 2014 command performance in the Series) that in the (10) playoff series that the Giants played won on the way to three Championships is that the Giants were never favored going into any of them. Not once. Think about that. They were underdogs in every single playoff match-up. That's how the Giants were viewed.

    I wear that with pride. That makes the accomplishment that much more incredible!

    People want their champions to be 10 feet tall and slay dragons without breaking a sweat. That's not the Giants. We're more of a David slew Goliath kind deal.

    This is a direct outcome of the expanded playoffs. I think one in three teams making the playoffs is WAY too many.

    In 2014 the Giants claimed the 2nd Wild Card with 88 wins. 83 wins would have still been enough to get that 2nd Wild Card. That's barely above .500. A fairly mediocre regular season effort could get you into the playoffs. But with that last Golden Ticket, the Giants owned the Chocolate Factory!

    So to everyone who wants to question whether the Giants had a dynasty, I say, "TOUGH!" We have the rings! You all wanted expanded playoffs. You want to keep the party crashers out? Then make the club exclusive.

    Even now (8/4/18) the Giants sit 5 games out of the division lead and wild card. With a team that has a disaster of starting rotation and serious injury and talent issues. Yes, it's unlikely that the very flawed Giants make the playoffs. But it's possible. And, you know, teams don't like to meet the underdog Giants in the playoffs.

    I guess what I'm trying to say (and agree with you OCG) is that the rules have changed and the Giants made them work. And that people have issues with calling the Giants a Dynasty, well, that make me smile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The giants had the pitching for playoff and world series success. Not sure that we do this year without Cueto. But the giants were severely under rated. Going into the Detroit series, reminded me of going into the 1954 series vs. Cleveland. The giants were underdogs, without the respect they deserved, and Cleveland was the Goliath. Yet the national announcers treated the 2012, and 2014 series as if the giants were the bad guys coming from the dark side, and the force would overcome them. As a giants fan, I felt exactly the opposite. Maybe some of that was the Bonds residue as felt by the press. I would love to see the giants surprise everyone once again this year, despite the overwhelming key injuries. Giants just do not seem to put a complete healthy lineup on the field. One good thing that came out of it though, is that we get to see some of our young talent, and that too had been under rated. The one sad thing, is that Williamson seems to have lost whatever he had found, after suffering from his concussion. Stratton has also fallen off the deep end since his wife gave birth, despite his elite spin rate.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your comment, Mojo, appreciate it.

      I like your thinking, I think I'll smile from now on as well, that's a good way to react to it from now on.

      Though, to be fair, it was the Giants who got changes made, with their 1993 just miss, and other playoff atrocities.

      Still, as you aptly noted, they played within the rules of the game, as it was situated, whether they got screwed by it or benefited by it. And they did something not many other teams have been able to do.

      Delete
    3. nomisnala, yeah, the Giants were the severe underdog against the Tigers (which is a great point Mojo made, that the Giants were never feared, and mostly underdogs), especially since we were forced to go with Zito as our Game 1 starter, against the mighty Verlander, no more David vs. Goliath than that.

      Yeah, Giants painted as bad guys, but I think that was more because they had won in 2010 and the Tigers haven't in decades, and likewise for the Royals, Giants won in 2010 and 2012, and they haven't for a long time. Also, Giants are big spenders vs. relatively less (Tigers less so, Royals more so).

      Injuries are good when you have the depth to refill the roster, and so far, we have been getting some great contributions from young prospects.

      Delete

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