Head-to-head in the World Series

I thought of a couple of fun ways to look at historical head-to-head match-ups in the World Series, dating all the way back to 1903.  As I’d been looking at different Fall Classics, especially prior to expansion in 1962, it became apparent that the Yankees had faced off against their former cross-town rivals in the Giants and Dodgers quite frequently, and had come out on top way more often than not.

In fact, for the first table, I was toying with a couple of different ways to portray it.  I initially conceived of this as a “Yankees vs. the NL” thing, but figured, while 40 is fun, 100+ is better, especially when over half the Yankees appearances have been against the Cardinals, Giants, and Dodgers.  Next up was whether to put all the NL teams on one axis and the AL on the other.  Fortunately, for the sake of cleanliness, the flip-flopping Brewers and Astros have yet to make an appearance as the representative for each league.  More importantly, though, was that by using this method, I couldn’t as cleanly portray the record between the two teams, just the overall number of meetings.

As such, I elected to put all teams on each axis.  After I completed the tally, I eliminated the Mariners and Nationals as they have 0 appearances, as well as the six further teams with no World Series wins from the vertical axis (column A), and the four additional teams with no losses from the horizontal (row 1).  To read it, a number in a box corresponds to the number of wins by the franchise in column A against that in row 1.  So, looking at box C16, you see a ‘1;’ this indicates that the Mets (the team in A16) have one World Series title at the expense of the Orioles (the team in C1).  Moreover, if you look all the way to the end of row 16, you’ll see that the Mets have 2 World Series wins, while the O’s have 4 losses in the Fall Classic.

Some other observations:

  • The Yankees have won 8 of their 27 titles against the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers/Robins.  Only the Yankees, Cardinals, and A’s have more than eight World Series championships
  • Overall, the Yankees have owned teams that, in the past or present, occupied or occupy real estate in the New York metropolitan area.  They’re a combined 14-5 against the Dodgers, Giants, and Mets franchises.  That leaves a *mere* 13-8 record (.619 winning percentage) against all other opponents, which is still more titles than anyone else has; of the nine other franchises with at least nine World Series appearances, only two (the Red Sox and Athletics) can boast a higher winning percentage.
  • Of the twelve franchises to have faced the Yankees in the World Series, only the Diamondbacks (1-0), Marlins (1-0), and Cardinals (3-2) have won more championships head-to-head.
  • Of the nine teams whom the Cardinals have faced, only the Royals and Twins (1-0, each) have winning records.

Taking that a step further, I thought it would be fun to see how metropolitan areas, regardless of league affiliation or franchise, stacked up against one another.  After all, Milwaukee has seen more World Series than the one their expansion team contested.  And while Washington, D.C.’s current franchise has yet to make it to the World Series, they’ve had a few appearances over the years, albeit long, loooooooooong ago.  Boston, Philadelphia, and St. Louis all had multiple teams at one time or another, and you need several hands to be able to count the number of times New York teams have squared off against one another.  I elected to omit Seattle and Montreal from the list entirely, as those cities haven’t seen any sweet World Series action in their respective runs as big league towns.

  • New York franchises have faced one another 14 times.  That means 12.6% of all World Series contested to this point have featured two teams from that area.  These match-ups notwithstanding, New York teams are 21-19 in the World Series.  Doing some *tricky* addition here, that’s 14+14+21+19, or 68 of 222 World Series participants from the Big Apple–30.6%!
  • The only other metro area with at least 10 World Series titles?  St. Louis.
  • Chicago is 4-9 against other towns.
  • New York teams have faced all current and past major league metro areas except for Dallas (Texas), Denver (Colorado), Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, Tampa, and Toronto.  It blows my mind just a little bit that the Giants, Dodgers, and Mets have never faced the Tigers in the World Series.  Everyone else isn’t all that surprising given that they came into existence after New York ceased to be a three-team town.
  • Of cities that have had or currently have multiple franchises simultaneously, Boston, LA, and Philadelphia didn’t get to revel in a cross-town title tilt; Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and the Bay Area all have.
  • While the Braves franchise has managed to win 3 championships, only one has come in Atlanta; if you remember the team’s run in the ’90s, that helps explain why the city is a disappointing 1-6 in the Fall Classic.
  • No big surprise that Miami, Toronto, and Phoenix are the only cities to have contested a World Series without a loss; the former two are 2-0, the latter 1-0.
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