Cherry-Picking Statistics

During the ninth inning of NLCS Game 1, TBS posted a graphic which said (in essence, may not be an exact quote):

Winner of Game 1 has won the NLCS in 16 of the last 18 seasons.

The clear implication there was Milwaukee, who did win Game 1 9-6, would represent the National League in the World Series.  That they had taken a step forward was beyond doubt.  That it is easier to win 3 of 6 games vice 4 of six games is also obvious.  To intimate the series was over after one game?  I found that irritating.

Turns out, the last team to lose Game 1 of the NLCS and win the NL was the 2006 Cardinals.  That was six years ago, but since 4 leaders of this year’s Cardinal team (Carpenter, Molina, Pujols, Wainwright) were also on the 2006 team it becomes relevant (not to mention the manager). 

There have been accusations on Twitter that the TBS coverage is overly biased in favor of the Milwaukee Brewers, fed in part because the primary play-by-play voice – Brian Anderson – is the lead broadcaster for Milwaukee’s TV coverage.  I have not noticed any undue bias.  That said, one would think the TBS stats checker could have included the 2006 Cardinals exception in that Game 1 graphic, seeing as the Cardinals are playing in the 2011 NLCS.

It’s a cherry-picked statistic.

Odd they didn’t do a similar graphic based on Game 2 winners.  But that’s why this blog exists, dear reader – to tilt at windmills and bring you amusing information.

SO – looking at the past 18 NLCS, how has the winner of Game 2 fared in terms of winning the National League?

  • Winner of Game 2 has advanced to the World Series 11 of 18 times. That’s pretty good news for St Louis, amIrite?
  • Nine times the winner of Game 2 has taken a 2-0 series lead.  They’ve won the NLCS every time. This is why yesterday’s game was so critical; teams can recover from losing Game 1, but it is extremely difficult to go down 2-0 and come back to win the series.
  • Teams winning Game 2 to make the series 1-1 lost 7 of 9 NLCS.  That’s not so good news for St Louis, and supports the Game 1 graphic.  HOWEVAH,
  • Road teams won Game 2 in 10 of the 18 series reviewed, and went on to win 7 of those NLCS.  Whaddya know – 70% success rate!  That’s a good prognosis.  It also jives with conventional wisdom – that the road team wresting away home field advantage raises their odds of success significantly.

Does the fact St Louis won Game 2 mean they will win the NLCS?  No.  They have turned a best-of-seven into a best-of-five with 3 games at Busch, but that advantage will only last as long as they keep winning.  It does mean the pressure is squarely on Milwaukee.  Kyle Lohse is pitching significantly better than Randy Wolf is at this point; the Brewers almost have to win tomorrow night or face entering Game 5 down three games to one.

Stats quoted above were cherry-picked from Baseball Reference.

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1 Comment

Filed under General Baseball, Post Season, St Louis Cardinals

One response to “Cherry-Picking Statistics

  1. I believe it was 29 of 32 teams winning Game 1 of the NLDS had moved on as well. We saw how that worked out.

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