Combined World Series title drought

It’s fairly inevitable that any MLB postseason “final four” involving the Cubs is going to have a pretty long combined number of years between World Series titles for the teams involved.  But it’s not as though any of the other three teams rounding out the LCS slate have won especially recently, either.  The Blue Jays are the most recent champions, winning the Fall Classic in 1993.

List of ALCS & NLCS participants, 2000-2015, and a listing of each franchise’s most recent title and respective championship drought

One example on process of counting the number of years: when the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the 2011 World Series, appeared in the 2012 NLCS, their drought number would be 0, even though they didn’t advance to and win the title.  I’m essentially counting the number of postseasons played in their entirety from the season following the most recent championship through the postseason played the year prior.  To figure this out mathematically, using the column headers in the chart, take (Year) – 1 – (Last Title).  So, using the above example, St. Louis’ would be 2012 – 1 – 2011 = 0, because, when the 2012 NLCS began, the Cardinals hadn’t gone any years without winning a title since their most recent.

A number in parentheses under the “Last Title” column indicates the franchise has never won the World Series, and that was their inaugural season.  The formula for these teams is ever so slightly different: it’s simply (Year) – (Last Title).  If hypothetical Team X was founded in 2014 and was participating in a 2015 LCS, they would have a drought of 1 year (2015 – 2014 = 1).  Using the formula described in the previous paragraph would result in a drought of 0 years, which would only be possible if they participating in the LCS in their inaugural campaign.

I’m sure there’s some standard-deviation-fanciness someone could pull off with the averages and what-not, but I ain’t that guy.

Some observations:

Since 2000, the 2012 LCS participants combined for the shortest drought.  The Cardinals, Giants, and Yankees, after all, had won each of the previous three titles.

Only four teams have yet to advance to their respective league’s LCS since 2000, and all happen to be in the National League: the Padres, Reds, Pirates, and Nationals/Expos.

We’re now at the fourth consecutive season in which all four LCS participants have won at least one World Series title in their history (even if one of them was over a century ago and there were only 16 teams in all of MLB).  Nine of the preceding twelve seasons (2000-2011) had at least one franchise playing that was still searching for its first title.

And, of course, the notion that piqued my curiosity in the first place: the 2003 NLCS and ALCS teams actually combined to have one season longer of a drought than 2015’s teams.  That was the postseason when the Cubs missed out on a trip to the Fall Classic in epic fashion and Red Sox Nation actually seemed pleasant, especially when compared against the perennial Yankees juggernaut.

This season is unique, however, in that no other time in the previous fifteen postseasons have all four teams in the LCS gone at least twenty years since their last World Series title.  In 2003, even with the Cubs’ & Red Sox’ epic droughts, the Yankees and Marlins had both won it all within the past half-decade.  So if you get the feeling like it’s been a while since any of the four finalists have won gone the distance, you’re not crazy.  Unless you’re a Cubs’ fan.


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