Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Sport https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Three things to consider as the Astros try to turn off a marvelous return against the Rays at ALCS

Three things to consider as the Astros try to turn off a marvelous return against the Rays at ALCS



When a team falls 3-0 in a best-of-seven MLB playoff series, the expectation is that their season is coming to an end. It is a wise assumption, as only one team – the 2004 Red Sox in the ALCS against the Yankees – overcame such a shortfall.

It takes us to the 2020 Astros and their efforts to catch up with the ALCS Rays. The Rays leaned on sparkling defense, timely hitting, and perhaps a small fortune to ride in the 3-0 lead to Houston. However, the Astros ended a winning streak in Games 4 and 5, and now we are left wondering if they will be the second team in MLB history to forge such a miracle.

As Game 6 ̵

1; another elimination draw for Houston – drops, let’s put what the Astros are trying to do and have already done in perspective. Here are three things to keep in mind as Dusty Baker’s squadron tries to survive for another day and force a Game 7.

1. We may be overdue for a 3-0 return

In all, 38 best-of-seven postseason series in MLB started 3-0 – from the 1907 World Series between the Cubs and Tigers to the current record series between Tampa Bay and Houston. Only one of those series, as mentioned above, ended in a team return down 3-0. In other words, the teams are back from 0-3 down to win the series in question with only 2.6 percent of the time.

If you assume the two teams that will meet in the posteason are equally matched – not an unreasonable assumption – and use the coin-flip method to determine the likelihood of a team eliminating four straight wins. That should happen 6.25 percent of the time. However, perhaps we should reduce our assumptions a bit. The team 3-0 in a postseason series is likely to be a better team by most measurement criteria. Also, there may be a compounding psychological “penalty” that comes from being down 3-0 and facing long odds that make it difficult to return.

Speaking of which, the team with a better record in the regular season won a postseason series that was a bit over 54 percent of the time. Since there isn’t much of an advantage at home field in the 2020 playoffs, let’s round that up to 54 percent. So if we consistently give the Astros a 46 percent chance of winning each game, they will be given a 4.5 percent chance of winning four straight. While the odds are still long, 4.5 percent is significantly higher than the 2.6 percent. That is another way of saying that perhaps we should have seen more than 0-3 returns in 38 attempts here. Especially is the case in a sport like baseball, where there is excessive built-in compression and randomness. To be sure, this is a minor factor, but perhaps Houston’s possibilities are never as long as it seems.

2. The Astros are already in a rare company

Here’s how teams ended up dropping 0-3 the rest of the way in those series:

  • 30 of 38, or 78.9 percent, were swept away.
  • Another five teams lost 4-1.
  • Only three teams – the 1998 Braves in the NLCS, the 1999 Mets in the NLCS, and the 2004 Red Sox in the ALCS – lasted at least six games.
  • Only the 2004 Red Sox forced the seventh game, which of course they won.

The 2020 Astros have become the fourth team so far 39 to force a Game 6. Among the teams that have dropped to 0-3, they are already walking among (admittedly smaller) gods.

3. The Astros are no longer falling 3-0

At the risk of sounding obvious and irritating, let’s remember that the Astros were no longer tasked to return from 0-3 at the simplest sense. After Game 3, they have to win four straight to the best AL team in the regular season. As of this writing, however, they now need to win two straight games on the best AL team, which they have already done. This is not entirely the territory of the “gambler’s mistake”, where previous results have nothing to do with future results, but there is a definite truth in this way of thinking about things. The certainty that can be found in the numbers: Teams that went down 3-2 in a best seven series went on to win the series at 30.5 percent of the time. Yes, the Astros are likely to lose ALCS to the Rays, but 30.5 percent value in better better chances than what they have after Game 3 and 4.

So will the Astros pull it off? Probably not, but that “maybe” is less emphasized than it was 48 hours ago.




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