The chance of a baseball team winning four straight games by at least 9 runs stands at one in 1.9 million (or 0.00005%), but the Houston Astros did it this final week of September. The chance of a team winning 22 straight games is one in 4.2 million (0.00002%) but the Indians concluded that streak in September.
Here is the table breaking down all win margins, with a full explanation and the math breakdown for stat nerds or skeptics.
Both 100-win teams start the AL playoffs at home Thursday, and if they both win against some combination of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins, then they face one another for the AL Championship and ticket to the World Series.
While the odds say the Indians boast an even tougher feat, the Astros milestone took longer to set. The New York Giants won 26 straight in 1916, meaning the Indians had the best streak in 101 years. The Astros were the first two win four games by nine runs or more since 1887, making the Astros the first in 130 years.
In June, the Houston Astros set a record for the highest team slugging average in the history of baseball and then they added Justin Verlander to their rotation and they enter the playoff with their All-Stars all healthy. The Cleveland Indians were the only team to dominate the Astros, winning five of six match-ups this season.
Analytics shows baseball is the most random sport when it comes to the playoffs. However, if it came down to these two super teams … they look dead even.
The following gives each player’s WAR per 150 games for a position player, 35 for a starting pitcher, or 70 relief appearances. When you compare the best eight position starters and DH, the top four starting pitchers, and each club’s closer and set up relief pitcher you end up with both teams having an edge at five positions and the rest tied. (Verlander calculates the higher WAR per start with Houston, but since that is only over five games you cannot give him the edge over Kluber. They have been the two best pitchers in baseball for two months).
Here is the side by side.
|SP1||Tie||Justin Verlander||12.6||Corey Kluber||10.0|
|SP2||Tie||Dallas Keuchel*||6.1||Carlos Carrasco||6.1|
|SP3||Ind||Brad Peacock||4.0||Mike Clevinger||4.9|
|SP4||Tie||Collin McHugh||3.5||Trevor Bauer||3.4|
|Setup||Ind||Chris Devenski||2.0||Andrew Miller*||4.0|
|Closer||Ind||Ken Giles||2.1||Cody Allen||3.2|
|C||Tie||Brian McCann*||1.9||Yan Gomes||1.7|
|1B||Ind||Yuli Gurriel||2.8||Carlos Santana#||3.6|
|2B||Ast||Jose Altuve||8.5||Jason Kipnis*||0.2|
|3B||Ind||Alex Bregman||3.9||Jose Ramirez#||6.4|
|SS||Ast||Carlos Correa||7.9||Francisco Lindor#||4.8|
|LF||Ast||Marwin Gonzalez#||5.1||Michael Brantley *||3.6|
|CF||Ast||George Springer||5.5||Lonnie Chisenhall*||2.3|
|RF||Ast||Josh Reddick*||4.9||Austin Jackson||3.4|
|DH||Tie||Evan Gattis||2.6||Edwin Encarnacion||2.7|