Sullivan: The Red Sox were the best, despite their best

From SABR member Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on October 29, 2018:

We talk all the time about whether or not the playoffs crown the best team in baseball. Is it more important to be the best team for six months, or is it more important to be the best team for one month? What are we even celebrating, anyway? When you look at the playoffs too hard, and when the playoffs tell a different story than the regular season, it can be difficult to know what to think. You can start to think about these things more than they were ever intended to be thought about. It’s deeply unfulfilling. I can speak from experience.

This year, we get a break. We get a break from having to overthink the tournament, and having to compare it against everything we saw before. The Red Sox won the World Series in five games over the Dodgers. The Red Sox had led all of baseball with 108 wins. In the first two playoff rounds, they eliminated the two other teams that reached triple digits. My favorite standings fact: For true talent, I prefer to look at run differential, or BaseRuns. The four best teams in the regular season were the Astros, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Yankees. The Red Sox knocked out the Yankees, the Astros, and the Dodgers, in order. They lost only one game in each round. Their playoff record was 11-3. Only three champions in the wild-card era have lost fewer games. The Red Sox did that against incredible competition.

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Originally published: October 30, 2018. Last Updated: October 30, 2018.