In the wake of the Cardinals’ latest victory and the Tigers’ sweep, we are close to witnessing a 2006 World Series rematch, one that St. Louis won in five games.
Several Cardinals still remain from that championship season: Chris Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Skip Schumacker, and Adam Wainwright.
On the Tigers, only Omar Infante and Justin Verlander are still on the roster, and the former spent time in Atlanta and Miami before coming home in July.
Interestingly, both teams emerged from the regular season with a mere 88 victories and .542 winning percentage, which would be a new low for combined winning percentage in a World Series matchup. The teams who have entered the Fall Classic with a worse regular-season record are few — the Cardinals in 2006 (83, .516), the Indians in 1997 (86, .534), the Twins in 1987 (85, .525), and the Mets in 1973 (82, .509). The 1918 participants, the Red Sox and Cubs, won only 75 and 84 games respectively but posted .595 and .651 percentages. (Boston played 126 games that year. The North Siders played 129.)
The Tigers finished seventh in the American League. They had a worse record than the two AL wild-card teams, the Orioles and Rangers, and finished behind the Rays and Angels as well, neither of whom made the postseason.
Over in the Senior Circuit, the Cardinals grabbed onto MLB’s new second wild card, finishing with the fifth-best record.
To be fair, Detroit had a .579 winning percentage in the second half. They took advantage of a White Sox collapse and post an 8–2 record to close out the season. General manager Dave Dombrowski solidified the middle infield and rotation after trading for Infante and Anibal Sanchez.
And while St. Louis did not finish on a hot streak, its 93 Pythagorean wins indicate that Mike Matheny’s club played better than their actual record.
Of course, much of this data will be rendered moot if the 94-win Giants wake up and stage a three-game comeback.