## Novel World Series matchups

Next to the Yankees, the Cardinals, Dodgers, A’s, Tigers, and Red Sox are the teams with the most pennants, and all are still in the playoffs.  So you might think we’re very likely to see a World Series matchup we’ve seen before.  If the Cardinals win the pennant, that’s true:  they went up against the A’s in 1930 and 1931, the Tigers in 1934, 1968, and 2006, and the Red Sox in 1946, 1967, 2004.

But the Dodgers have never faced the Tigers or the Red Sox in the World Series.  Basically, they won lots of pennants but just played the Yankees again and again.

I’m still holding out hope for the Pirates to take the National League pennant.  If they do, they’ve got a chance to get revenge for their loss in the very first World Series, in 1903, 5 games to 3 to the team then known as the Boston Americans, now called the Red Sox.

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## The total variation of win probability, or: THE MAGNIFICENT TWINS-TIGERS GAME

Fangraphs has a neat feature:  they’ll make a chart showing how the probability of a home team win varies over the course of a game.  In a “normal” game this probability starts at .5 and slowly makes its way towards 0 or 1 as one team takes a lead and then holds on.

Today’s Twins-Tigers playoff is not a normal game.

The total variation in win probability over the course of a game is a good way of quantifying how much back-and-forth there’s been between the two teams.  You might take it as a loose measure of “excitingness.”

In this game, the Twins have gone from an 80% chance of winning to 20% to 73% to 20%, again up to 83% and then back down to 50%.  That’s a total variation of at least 2.62, all since the 6th inning!

I wonder what the all-time record for total variation in a single game is?  It would have to be a game with multiple extra innings in which runs scored, I’d think.

And we go to the bottom of the 11th, still tied 5-5.  Minnesota with a 64% win probability per FanGraphs.  Joe Mauer coming up third this inning.  Now that my own team is done playing for the year, I am allowed to say:  go Twins.

Update:  In the comments, Michael Lugo proves by science that the Tigers-Twins playoff (total variation:  7.69) was more exciting than game 7 of the 1991 World Series, but less exciting than this.

Update 2: A similar computation carried out in 2005 by Dennis Boznango at The Hardball Times. An even more similar discussion at FanGraphs.