A refreshing article by Tom Verducci debunking many postseason myths, including:
2. The "hot" teams -- the ones that play well down the stretch -- are the ones to fear in the postseason.
Hello? Was anybody watching last year? St. Louis (12-17) and Detroit (12-16) were awful in September, but wound up playing each other in the World Series. But it's not just last year. Of the 24 World Series teams in the wild-card era, 14 of them -- a clear majority -- posted a worse winning percentage after Sept. 1 than they did overall. The Cardinals and Tigers were the sixth and seventh teams in that 12-year period to play losing baseball after Sept. 1 and still reach the World Series.
3. The team that won the season series has the edge over its opponent.
Not so. The next time somebody wants to bring up how playoff teams did against one another during the season, tell them to save their breath. It's irrelevant.
Over the past two seasons, the team that won the season series over its opponent is 3-9 when those same teams meet in league postseason play. Did I hear someone say "small sample"?
OK, let's look at the entire Division Series and League Championship Series history during the wild-card era. The team that won the season series is 33-36 in postseason rematches, including 12-21 since 2001 (excludes three matchups of teams that tied their regular-season series). So fear not the Yankees, Indians fans. October really is a whole new season.
4. It's important to earn home field advantage.
No, it's not. Home teams in postseason games in the wild-card era are 208-182, a .533 winning percentage -- not too different than if you flipped a coin 390 times. It works out to roughly one extra win per year for all postseason teams combined.
But, hey, you say you really want that last game in your park if the series goes the distance, right? Doesn't matter. First of all, 79 percent of Division and League Championship Series never go the maximum number of games (57 of 72). And in those 15 series that did go the distance, the home teams went 5-10.
Now, having World Series Game 7 in your home park might mean something: Home teams are 8-0 in those ultimate games since 1979. But the site of that game is determined by the outcome of the All-Star Game, not by how many games a team wins during the season.
Bottom line: Playoff-certain teams should forget putting the pedal to the metal. Rest your players, especially your pitchers. The postseason -- no matter what myths you want to believe -- as Billy Beane so well put it, really is a crapshoot.
More evidence of the role chance plays in small sample sizes (like playoff series).
BRING ON THE SOX!