October 24, 2012
The Pleasure and Perfection of Postseason Sweeps
After the Tigers swept the Yankees, I was happy. Not because I was rooting for the former or against the latter. I just like sweeps. I like them because they’re fairly rare, especially four-game sweeps. Maybe someone with much more powerful number-crunching jaws than mine will want to chew on this, but it seems to me that the 4-0 sweep is not only the rarest of regular-season series outcomes, but by far the rarest.
Given that we’re in the postseason, how about playoff sweeps? Since 1985, the year the League Championship Series expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven, every LCS (and of course World Series) has been a race to four. From 1985-2011, there were 78 best-of-seven postseason series. At first that made no sense to me, because I counted on my fingers a bunch of times and kept coming up with 81 (27 seasons times three series per season), but then I counted the actual number of series results, with my fingers literally touching the screen as I scrolled, and kept getting 78. I decided the reason I couldn’t make it work was that I am simply bad at math until I noticed that there were no playoff series in 1994 because of the strike. So I am bad at history. And in fact I’m also bad at math. Good thing I went in for an MFA.
Anyway, here is the results breakdown, which took me far longer to calculate than it should have because I am bad at math:
Twelve of the 78 postseason series were sweeps.
Here is a handy table, too, which took me far longer to make than it should have, also because I am bad at math: