Astros vs Dodgers. Historically, Who Has The Edge?

At this point, if you’re one of the 4 people reading this I’m sure you’ve already read a thousand different World Series previews comparing Houston & L.A.’s rosters positon by positon & every which way. Ergo, this will not be that type of preview. Rather, we’re going to look at the historical trends in the World Series matchup as well as the history between these 2 teams since Houston changed their name from the Colt .45s (best name ever) to the Astros (solid name at best) in 1965. Enough jbber jabber let’s do this:

Dodgers vs Astros History:

  • All-time head to head record:  Dodgers 388; Astros 323

The most recent matchup between these 2 teams was a 3 game series in 2015 when the Astros swept the Dodgers. Funnily enough, Houston scored exactly 3 runs in each game while the Dodgers scored scored 0-1-2, so improved by exactly 1 each game while still losing.

Granted, both 2017 teams are drastically different than their 2015 versions. For example, Cody Bellinger was playing A+ ball in Rancho Cucamonga at that point, so those 2015 games shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

As for the head to head playoff history, there has only been 1 playoff series in MLB history between Houston & the Dodgers. That series was a 1981 NLDS in which Los Angeles came back from a 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 with a +10 run differential in the final 3 games. I guess it’s also worth noting that the Dodgers went on to win the World Series that season, a team that featured now veteran managers Mike Scioscia & Dusty Baker.

 

World Series Trends:

In this section we’ll be looking at the “favorite vs underdog” (faves vs dogs decided purely on regular season wins) trends in all World Series matchups since 1920, i.e. the start of the live-ball era.

Since 1920, the team with more regular season wins is 46-43 in the World Series, with the length of an average World Series being 5.8 (roughly 6) games. For those doing the math, that would leave 4 missing World Series, not including the cancelled one in 1994, which can easily be explained by the fact that both teams had the same regular season record those years (1949, 1951, 1958 & 2013).

The average “favorite” has had 99.9 wins and the average “underdog” 93.5, meaning the average win differential is evidently 6.4. Since this matchup is more of an anomaly, with 2 100+ wins team in the World Series for the 5th time in the live-ball era & 8th time in MLB history, let’s look at some more specific situations:

In those 6 matchups between 100+ win teams, the average win differential is 5 & the “favorite” is 3-2, with all 3 of their WS wins being decided in 5 games and their losses finishing in 7 (1931) & 5 (1969) games. The last time we had one of these matchups was all the way back in 1970, when the 108-win Orioles led by Frank Robinson took down Pete Rose & the rest of the 102-win Cincinnati Reds.

It’s worth noting that the Dodgers (104) & Astros (101) win differential is 3 and the only other time 100+ win teams with that exact differential faced off in the World Series was 1942 when Stan Musial‘s 106-win Cardinals beat Joe Dimaggio‘s 103-win Yankees in 5 games.

Speaking of Series with close win differentials, there have been 22 World Series matchups since 1920 with a differential 3 or less regular season wins. In those 22 matchups, the “underdogs” are  actually a surprising 13-9, with this type of matchup being decided by 4 games to 2.2 (6.2-game series) on average. The last time we had one such series was when the 89-win Giants took down the 88-win Royals.

If we want to get REAL specific, there have been 6 World Series matchups where the win differential between the two teams was exactly 3. In those series, nobody really seems to have the edge as favorites & underdogs are both 3-3 and all but 2 of these matchups have been decided by 7 games ( “favorite” won once in 5 & once in 6).

The last time we had a World Series matchup that fits this exact criteria was 2001 when the 92-win Diamondbacks defeated the power-house Yankees of the late 1990’s crushing their 4-peat hopes in a hard fought 7 game series that went the distance.

 

Conclusion:

So in conclusion, these different trends yielded the exact results I was hoping for, as they suggest that the 2017 World Series is a complete toss-up and should give us a very entertaining 6 or 7 game series. As someone who is a fan of neither team but enjoys watching both of them, here’s to hoping that’s what actually happens! Kuechel vs Kershaw should be a duel for the ages.

P.S.: Since the trends suggest this series is anyone’s to win, I suggest to bet the Astros who are 3/2 (+150) underdogs!

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