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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Minnesota Twins eliminated by Houston Astros as postseason losing streak hits 18 games

The Minnesota Twins’ postseason losing streak has reached a stunning 18 games—and now their 2020 season is over. The Houston Astros eliminated the Twins with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday at Target Field in Minneapolis, a disappointing finish for a team that had rallied to win its second consecutive American League Central title and finished with the best home record in the majors during the 60-game regular season.

The Twins’ playoff streak is not only a major league record, but is the longest in U.S. sports history. The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks lost 16 straight playoff games from 1975 to 1979. Before the Twins, the previous MLB record belonged to the Boston Red Sox, who lost 13 playoff games in a row starting with the infamous Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

“We haven’t been successful in the playoffs lately, at all. That’s a reality for all the fans and for everyone who follows the organization and cares about the Twins,” second-year manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I’m aware of it now. The day I showed up here ... I had no idea that was even a thing. I didn’t know it existed. I hear about it from people who care about this team. And you know what? We want to do better. We want to do better for ourselves, we want to do better for the organization and we want to do better for the fans, too.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 30, 2020 at 10:29 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, twins

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2020 at 01:56 AM (#5980130)
The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks lost 16 straight playoff games from 1975 to 1979.

Yikes, I don't remember it being that bad. Looking it up on, that was a period when the Hawks were in weak division in a weak conference. They finished basically 500 in 74-75 and snuck into a "WC" slot. In 75-76 they again finished basically 500 and won the division. The next year they managed to get in on a 26-43-11 record which is just ridiculous; the Blues won the division at 32-39-9. They at least snuck over 500 the next year in winning the division but the 2nd place Rox made the playoffs at 19-40-21. They wrapped up another division title on 29-36-15 the next year. In short, there was certainly no reason to expect the Hawks to actually win any of those series but, sure, you'd think they'd squeak out a win here or there.

By the way, how nuts was the NHL in those days? For 74-75 and 75-76, the California Golden Seals were in the same division as Buffalo, Boston and Toronto. Shockingly enough, the Seals moved to Cleveland in 1976. The LA Kings were in the same division as Montreal, Pitt, Washington and Detroit. When the Canucks came into existence for 70-71, they were put in the East Division. I suppose this was still the aftermath of the (probably overly aggressive) 67-68 expansion from 6 to 12 teams, then 14, 16 and 18 by 74-75. Not that any of that stopped the creation of the WHA and eventual merger and 21 teams in 1979-80. Anyway, that initial expansion created some very lopsided divisions that I suppose they spent the next 12 years trying to balance out in a sensibly competitive format regardless of how silly the travel was.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: October 01, 2020 at 09:01 AM (#5980146)
Before the Twins, the previous MLB record belonged to the Boston Red Sox, who lost 13 playoff games in a row starting with the infamous Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
Intrinsically, only the first game (or 2) of these types of streaks is likely to be a big bad heartbreaking loss, individually. The rest are just parts of sweeps. Cumulatively, of course, it is a different story.
   3. bunyon Posted: October 01, 2020 at 09:25 AM (#5980151)
Maybe they should turn the A/C on.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 01, 2020 at 01:49 PM (#5980240)
The odds of the Twins losing 18 post-season games in a row.

1. 163 games over 500 in 9 seasons =
[8*162+60 (Total games played)]=1356
1356/2 = 678 (.500 record over that time)
(678+163)/1356 = #MNTwins winning percentage (.620)

2. If #MNTwins winning percentage was .620, their losing percentage was .380
Odds that a .620 team loses 18 straight would be .380^18th power (just as odds of a quarter landing heads three in a row is .5^3)
.380^18 = 0.0000000273 OR a .00000273% chance

3 To express that other ways 99.999998% of the time this wouldn't happen. Or it is a 1:5,000,000 chance.
   5. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5980252)
WP would be versus the field, not versus other playoff teams. Twinkie Town put it at 1 in 176,860.
   6. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 01, 2020 at 02:34 PM (#5980254)
#4 -

That doesn't seem to take into account the ability of the other team - that's assuming each game is a 50/50 proposition.
   7. Karl from NY Posted: October 01, 2020 at 03:31 PM (#5980270)
Remember the multiple-endpoints effect too. We're not looking at just the Twins. We're observing the entire league population. It's 30x as likely that this happens somewhere in the league. We only notice the Twins after the fact because it's them that it happened to, while we ignore all the other cases where it didn't happen.
   8. spycake Posted: October 01, 2020 at 04:32 PM (#5980308)
Here is an estimate based on the betting odds for each game, converted to winning percentage — 1 in 28,000 odds:
   9. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 01, 2020 at 05:36 PM (#5980321)
By the way, how nuts was the NHL in those days?

Very. The NHL screwed the pooch on expansion/realignment right from the get-go in the 60s. First, they should've expanded more gradually -- say, two new teams a year for three years -- but, no, they had to double the size of the league overnight. (This was partly because they facing a threat from the Western Hockey League, who threatened to sign a US TV contract and declare themselves a major league.)

Then, they put all six new teams in the new West Division, despite the fact that Chicago and Detroit were (and are) quite a bit west of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. A better idea would be to put the Hawks and Wings in the West and the Pengos and Flyers in the East -- unbalanced divisions, obviously, but a lot better than what they actually did, which was (literally!) six of one and half-dozen of another. This ensured that a crummy West Division team would be in the Stanley Cup Finals every year, something the Canadiens and Bruins took full advantage of.

In 1970, the NHL added Vancouver and Buffalo, moving Chicago to the West and putting both the Canucks and the Sabres in the East (wait, what?). A more logical move would have the left the Hawks alone and put Buffalo in the East, too...of course, that would've created a West Division consisting of not six but seven squads of absolute crap. Two years later, the league added the Islanders (take that, WHA!) and the Atlanta Flames. This would've been the perfect time to switch the Flames (placed in the West) and the Canucks (still stuck in the East), right? Wrong. Stay put, guys. Don't ask why.

In 1975, the NHL finally had a chance to do it right, adding two more teams in Kansas City and Washington (who won a combined total of 23 games that season) and expanding to four divisions. The WHA had 14 teams that year, adding up to a bloated total of 32 major league hockey franchises, a number that will finally be equaled next year when Seattle becomes the NHL's 32nd club. (Speaking of Seattle, the Penguins almost moved there that summer, while the Seals were threatening to move to Denver. Didn't happen.)

A logical realignment would've been:

West: Vancouver, LA, California, St Louis, Kansas City
Midwest: Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto
Northeast: Montreal, Boston, Buffalo, NY Rangers, NY Islanders
Atlantic: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta

The NHL...did not do this. Or even come up with logical division names (you know, with friggin' directions). Instead, they went with the Adams, Norris, Patrick and Century Divisions, with teams located God-knew-where. (Ha, fooled you: the Century Division was actually used in the NFL in the 60s! Psych...!)

It wasn't until after the merger with the WHA in 1979 they finally untangled this and put teams where they belonged, and it wasn't until 1993 they finally ditched Adams, et. al. and went with geographical division names. (As Gretzky put it in his autobiography, "We have enough trouble just explaining the blue line to people. Just call the conferences East and West.") Then they added some more teams and went to six divisions for a while, but I think we're all pretending that didn't happen, right? Right.

And now, 32 teams...assuming the Second Wave of You-Know-What doesn't hit too hard...
   10. Srul Itza Posted: October 01, 2020 at 05:51 PM (#5980324)
By the way, how nuts was the NHL in those days? For 74-75 and 75-76, the California Golden Seals were in the same division as Buffalo, Boston and Toronto.

How long was Atlanta in the NL West? over 30 years?

Dallas is still in the NFC East

And people wonder why US Students are so bad at geography. ..

   11. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 01, 2020 at 06:52 PM (#5980351)
How long was Atlanta in the NL West?

And Cincinnati, too, don't forget. The Braves and Reds were in the NL West for 25 years, from 1969-93; this was because the Cubs and Cardinals insisted on being in the East, with the Mets and Phillies.

Dallas is still in the NFC East

The Cowboys have been in the same division for 50 years, with the Giants, Eagles and The Team That Dare Not Speak Its Name. (There's really no logical place to put Dallas, really. New Orleans is the closest NFC team geographically, but the Southern Division [with Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay] is already full. You can't put them in the West, since there's no longer any room now that the Rams have moved back to LA, and you can't break up the Lions-Packers-Vikings-Bears quartet in the North. So, the East it is.)
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: October 01, 2020 at 07:17 PM (#5980360)

The Cowboys have been in the same division for 50 years,

And for more than a quarter of that time, they weren't the westernmost team.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2020 at 07:31 PM (#5980362)
I sorta liked the NHL naming divisions which avoided the question of "why is Vancouver in the East?" Why are the Braves/Reds in the Mays division is a question that never would have been asked.

The math in #4 is well-off from the start. First we start with the claim "163 over 500 in 9 seasons" then multiply 8*162 ...

I don't know if 8 or 9 is correct but even so ... that's at most (about) 20 games over 500 per season which is a 91-71 record which is a 562 WP, just a bit short of >620. The way they've done their math, they've created a team 326 games over 500 over 8 years. I think we'd have noticed if the Twins regularly won 100+ games.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2020 at 09:24 PM (#5980389)
Boy #4 has me scratching my head even more ...

The 18-game losing streak is across their last 7 playoff series which is neither 8 or 9. Across those 7 seasons, I get 149 games over 500. They did make the playoffs in the previous 2 seasons so maybe include those as a better estimate of their "true playoff talent"? Even so, add the 8th year and they're at +167; the 9th year puts them at +194. FWIW, basically any of those put them at "typically" +21 in playoff seasons. Note they played 163 in 2009 (year 5 going back in time) and 161 in 2002 (year 9).

Now, what in the world is the 60 games? They played the 18 playoff games but what are the other 42 games? If you go back to year 9 that adds 15 more games. If you go back to the Twins' entire disional playoff history, I get another 30 games, not 27 ... besides that gives us 13 playoff seasons.

Anyway, 91.5/162 (average +21 games) is a 565 WP. Add on 19 to 7*162(+1 for sticklers) or 23 to 8*162 or 33 to 9*162 or ... at a 500 pace then you bring that down a bit. And then yes we get to the point that their "true" playoff WP wasn't anything close to 565 ... and the number we want to raise to the 18th power is their true playoff WP (or expected probability of winning each of those games against those opponents with those starting pitchers, etc.) Now realistically that couldn't have been worse than about 400 because rarely does any team surpass a 600ish WP against the league as a whole and so surely even less likely they'd reach much less significantly surpass 600 against other good teams in their league. Similarly, given their regular season WP, it's hard to imagine the Twins could have had a general WP above maybe 530 for good teams.

Anyway .5^18 is still a very small number ... but a good bit larger than .38^18. Further as we seemed to always have to point out back in the early days of primer ... That's the probabiliy of a specific team losing 18 straight or (perhaps clearer) the probability that a true 565 team will lose its next 18 games. But we're coming at this after a lot of "play 18 playoff games" experiments have been run. We didn't randomly select the Twins, we selected them because they happened to be the bad-luck team. The probability that a specific team will lose 18 straight playoff games is very, very low. The probability that at least one team would have experienced an 18-game playoff losing streak is much higher than that -- it's still gonna be mighty low but nothing like 1 in 5 M.
   15. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 02, 2020 at 09:27 AM (#5980508)
#13 & 14 -

Not sure if you are aware but due to a global pandemic (scary stuff) the Twins only played 60 games this year. So over their last 9 playoff seasons, 2020 included, there's 8 seasons of 162 games + this year's 60 games (2002, 03, 04, 06, 09, 10, 17, 19, 20).

[8*162+60 (Total games played)]=1356

the little factoid could have been hashed out a bit better, but hey, that' twitter for you.

2020 record keeping is going to be a major pain in the ass.

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