It’s not the best team that wins the World Series but the team that gets hot at the right time. Or that is how the baseball cliché goes. Does a team’s performance in the final month of the season correlate to postseason success?
Using a team’s record in September (plus any regular season game played in October), I checked the hottest and coldest teams entering the playoffs since 2012 (when the wild card expanded to two teams). That gives us a sample of 40 teams and 141 playoff games.
The 20 hottest teams entering the postseason had a combined record of 375-196 (.656) over the final month of the season. That is a better winning percentage than the Chicago Cubs, this year’s World Series favorite. The 20 coldest teams managed to sneak into the playoffs (298-277 record, .518) despite playing like the Houston Astros who finished five games out of the AL Wild Card.
How did the hot and cold teams perform in the playoffs?
The hot teams combined to go 64-73 (.467), a dramatic drop off from the level of play entering the postseason. The cold teams fared better going 77-68 (.531).
This is great news for a team like the Blue Jays who went 13-16 down the stretch and not what you want to hear if you are a fan of the Red Sox, best record in September.
The way a team finishes the regular season doesn’t say much about their playoff chances. How you play heading into the postseason doesn’t matter.
|Season||Team||September Record||Playoff Record|