Friday, September 28, 2007

The Red Sox Are the Best Collapsers in Baseball!

Red Sox fans are known to be paranoid and always prepared for the next big collapse. Outsiders can't understand it. Well Baseball Prospectus is here to help us explain it in their list of biggest collapses in baseball history:

11. 2002 Boston Red Sox
Peak Playoff Probability:
95.84% after games of June 6th
Odds of Collapse at Peak: 23-to-1 against
Record at Peak: 40-17, 3.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East; 6.0 games ahead of the Anaheim Angels for the Wild Card
Record after Peak: 53-52

It might seem odd that a team can establish this much of a probability of reaching the playoffs so early in the season, but consider the mechanics of the Wild Card. What it does is to effectively eliminate the 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers scenario, which is when a team plays fairly good baseball but is overtaken by a team that plays really great baseball. Nowadays, when that happens both teams still make the playoffs, one of them as the Wild Card. At their peak, for example, the Red Sox were projected to win their division less than 70 percent of the time, but the Wild Card made up most of the difference and provided them with a huge landing pad. The 2000 Red Sox (93.36% playoff probability at peak) and 2001 Red Sox (92.50%) also nearly made this list, which might help everyone outside of New England understand if it seems that Sox fans are a little paranoid.

The 1978 team also makes the list, of course. Note that the 2007 Sox team doesn't make the list of this season's collapses... yet. Let's hope it stays that way.

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