Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Fallacy Of A Hot September

In the beginning of every season, we are forced to look at extremely small sample sizes in order to evaluate performance, which grow larger as the year progresses. It takes a while, but over the summer months, trends become realities and we begin to see who the best players and teams are. But before those positions can be solidified, the schedule winds down and heads into the postseason. Then, broadcasters, analysts and fans all try to identify who the hottest teams are heading into October and the big picture is viewed in terms of increasingly small sample sizes once again.

But does being hot heading into the playoffs really forebode success once you get there? The 2007 Rockies were the most recent poster child of this theory, skyrocketing from 6.5 games back and only 5 games over .500 as late as September 16th and finally sneaking into the postseason via a play-in game against the Padres. From there they swept their way to the World Series but were ultimately dismantled by the Red Sox.

Of course, the '07 Rockies are just one end of the spectrum. On the other hand, you have the 2000 Yankees who turned into a train wreck down the stretch, going 2-12 over their final 14 games, ending the season on a 7 game losing streak and nearly blowing the division. That Yankee team of course went on to beat the Indians, Mariners and Mets and unlike the above mentioned Rockies, actually won the World Series.

Today at The Faster Times, Lisa Swan from Subway Squawkers looked at how every playoff team since the year 2000 performed in September and how it correlated to their success in the postseason. Surprise, surprise... there is essentially no connection at all. Click through for the details.

In a season bereft of any really close pennant races, but the same amount of articles to be published, scribes will be churning out columns trying to identify who is primed for October based on the way they are playing now. Someone is probably writing one about the Yankees right now. Most columnists make a living trying to find story lines. Unfortunately for them, if you want to foretell the future in baseball, you be better off breaking out the crystal ball.

1 comment:

  1. and to think, some pinch-hitting columnists actually get paid for fluff. in a bathrobe, no less