World Series victors by record, rest, city name

The Astros had the better regular-season record of this year's World Series teams,finishing 95-67, to the Braves' 88-74.

That's no guarantee that the Astros will win the Series.

Two years ago, the Astros were 14 games better than the Nationals, but lost in 7 games.

On the other hand, in 2020, the Dodgers were 3 games better than the Rays and won in 6 games.

So how often has the team with the better record won the Series?


There have been 116 World Series from 1903 through 2020

In 4 of them, the teams were the same number of games above .500 during the regular season, most recently in 2013 (Red Sox vs. Cardinals).

Of the remaining 112 Series, the team with the better record won 61 and lost 51, a winning percentage of .545.

But there has been a stark difference between teams from the American and National leagues.

AL teams have had the better record 73 times. They won 42 Series and lost 31, a .575 percentage, equivalent to winning 93 games over a 162-game regular season.

NL teams, however, are just 19-20, .487, equivalent to 79 wins.


The AL team also won all 4 Series in which the teams had equal records.

Overall, the AL has won the World Series 66 times; the NL, 50.



This year's Series will be the ninth in which the difference between the teams' records was exactly 7 games.

The most recent was in 2004, when the 105-57 Cardinals were swept by the 98-64 Red Sox.

That was the first of its kind since 1989 another sweep, but by the team with the better record, the 99-63 Athletics over the the 92-70 Giants.

Here are the 6 earlier such Series:

1929: Athletics (104-46) beat Cubs (98-54)

1931: Cardinals (101-53) beat Athletics (107-45)

1943: Yankees (98-56) beat Cardinals (105-49)

1946: Cardinals (98-58) beat Red Sox (104-50)

1950: Yankees (98-56) beat Phillies (91-63)

1959: Dodgers (88-68) beat White Sox (94-60)

The team with the better record won only 3 of those 8 Series. All 3 were AL clubs: the 1929 Athletics, 1950 Yankees and 1989 Athletics.



There have been 41 Series in which the difference between the teams was more than 7 games.

The biggest difference was the 22.5 games between the Cubs (116-36) and White Sox (93-58) in 1906.

The Sox won that Series in 6 games.

The Cubs also were in the Series that had the second-largest difference, 17 games. The Cubs were 90-64 in 1932, when they were swept by the Yankees (107-47).

The 16.5-game difference between the Dodgers and Astros in 2018 ranks third.

There was a difference of 16 games in 3 Series, all won by the team with the better record, and a difference of 14 in 3 more.

The Cubs (107-45) won the first of those, going 4-0-1 against the Tigers (92-58) in 1907.

The 2 other teams that were 14 games better both lost. The Indians (111-43) were swept by the Giants (97-57) in 1954 and the Astros (107-55) lost in 7 games to the Nationals (93-69) last October.


The difference has been at least 10 games in 31 Series, of which the team with the better record won 21.

The average difference between the teams has been 6.5 games.


There have been 6 Series in which the difference between the teams was 1 game; 3 in which it was 1.5; 8 in which it was 2; and 3 in which it was 2.5.

That is a total of 20 that were fewer than 3 games.



The Astros will go into this year's Series having had 1 more day of rest than the Braves.

Last year, the Rays lost, despite having had an additional day off before Game 1.

That marked the 11th time in the past 13 Series that the team with more rest has been beaten by the team with less rest.

The more-rested team lost 9 Series in a row from 2009-17 before the Red Sox prevailed in 2018 and the Nationals did the same in 2019.

Overall, the team with more rest is 20-21 in the World Series. In 11 seasons, teams had equal rest.


The Series has followed a peculiar, roller-coaster pattern.

From 1969-79, the rested team went 2-4.

From 1980-89, it went 3-3.

Then, from 1990-99, it went 7-1, only to fall back to 6-4 from 2000-09.



By another metric, history suggests that the Braves will defeat the Astros in this year's World Series.


Because Atlanta, home of the Braves, comes in the alphabet before Houston, home of the Astros.

Since 2000, the team whose home city came first alphabetically has won 16 Series and lost only 4. The 2000 Series was a "tie," as both teams represented New York.


The only teams from cities later in the alphabet that have won were St. Louis, over Detroit, in 2006; San Francisco, over Detroit, in 2012; San Francisco, over Kansas City, in 2014; and Washington, over Houston, in 2019.



Whether the earlier or later team alphabetically wins more often has fluctuated over the decades.

Later teams won 7 of 9 in 1990-99 (there were only 9 Series because of the strike in 1994).

Earlier teams won 7 of 10 in 1980-89

Later teams won 9 of 10 in 1970-79 – the last 9 in a row


Earlier and later teams each won 5 times in 1960-69.

That was the best decade for earlier teams in half a century. Later teams won more Series in every decade from 1920-29 through 1950-59.

In fact, until 1980-89, earlier teams had not won more often that they lost since winning 6 of 10 in 1910-19.

Earlier teams won 4 of 5 in 1900-09.


So, earlier teams have been more successful in 1900-09, 1910-19, 1980-89, 2000-09 and 2010-18.

And later teams won more often in 1920-29, 1930-39, 1940-49, 1950,59, 1970-79 and 1990-99.


In all, later teams have won the Series 56 times; earlier teams, 50 times; and 10 were ties (Chicago-Chicago once, New York-New York 8 times, St. Louis-St. Louis once)

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