When Baseball started the World Series (WS) in 1903, (prior to that year the games were considered exhibitions) the NFL (1920) and NBA (1946) didn’t even exist. Since their inception, all of these Professional Leagues kept separate statistics for their regular season, inter-league playoff games and Championships. That is, until the granddaddy of them all, decided to lump Playoff stats and WS stats together and call them Postseason stats. Like adding a WS home field advantage to the All-Star Game, baseball has chosen to upgrade Playoff games to the equal of the WS in order to increase their value to TV broadcast networks, to the detriment of the sport.
By MLB actions, many of those members of the Hall of Fame (HOF) that did not have the opportunity to participate in Playoff games will eventually have their WS records relegated to the ash heap of history. During the Playoffs, and WS, TV broadcasters are evidently instructed to refer to all individual stats as Postseason.
For example, during the 2011 Playoffs, TV announcers told us that Jorge Posada of the Yankees had eclipsed a Postseason Yankee team record for Runs Batted In (RBI) previously held by HOF Mickey Mantle. The rub is that Mantle only has WS stats, because Playoff games didn’t exist when he played. This is not in any way to denigrate Posada, who had an excellent career, but the bulk of his stats came from American League Division Series (ALDS) and American League Championship Series (ALCS). “So,” you might ask, “what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that all those Playoff games were played against other AL teams that they play all year, every year, in cities and ballparks that were familiar. All WS games are played against teams from the other league at unfamiliar cities and ballparks, that except for, maybe, a few inter-league games each, they never see during the regular season. Since there were no inter-league games when Mantle played, he was always facing a National League (NL) team in the World Series that the Yankees never played during the regular season and that had earned their League’s Championship based on their regular season record, not winning Playoff games. Let me say that again – the teams with the best regular season record played each other in the World Series. It was the best against the best.
The result is that the way the Playoffs are presently constituted two teams could now conceivably play 13 games and three teams 12 games prior to playing seven WS games.
Mantle played in 65 WS games (40 RBI) and Posada in 29 (11 RBI) against the NL. However, Posada also played in 96 Playoff games (31 RBI) against AL teams, a total of 125 games; almost twice as many. It’s the basic apples to oranges comparison which skews all lifetime stats in his favor, both in number and familiarity with opponents. Please, Posada was not Mantle.
During the TV broadcast of a 2013 NLCS game the Postseason, On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage (OPS) of the St. Louis Cardinal’s, Carlos Beltran, was compared to the Postseason OPS of the Yankee’s HOF, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, evidently to hype the importance of Playoff Games. This comparison is way beyond the pale. Beltran, a very good player, had the excellent OPS in Playoff Games at that point, (1.160) but he had never participated in a WS game when the comparison was made. Ruth and Gehrig, two of the best hitters in Baseball history, only appeared in WS games.
In the 2014 American League Divisional Series (NLDS), during the second game between the Tigers and Orioles the broadcasters were comparing the Postseason Slugging Percentage (SLG) of the Oriole’s, Nelson Cruz and Beltran against Ruth and Gehrig. For the record these are the SLG and OPS WS stats for all four players: Ruth 10 WS, 41 Games (G) -.744/1.211; Gehrig 7 WS, 34 G -.731/1.208; Cruz 2 WS, 12 G -.444/.724; Beltran 1 WS, 6 G -.294/.694. Compare those!
At the beginning of the 2015 WS the announcers added pitching to the Postseason mirage. They were comparing the Postseason strikeout (SO) totals of the New York Mets starting pitchers to St. Louis HOF, Bob Gibson, who also only pitched in WS games. During the WS, Mets’ starters had a grand total of 25 SO over five games. Hardly dominating. In addition, Gibson had 8 Complete Games out of 9 WS starts with an ERA of 1.89 and 92 SO. The kicker is that the Mets had one (1) CG, by their oldest pitcher, Bartolo Colon (42) during the regular season, Playoffs and WS – none by the WS starters. Comparing Mets pitchers with Gibson? Really!
I don’t even have the words to describe how ridiculous it is to total the Playoff Game/World Series stats of today’s players and compare them to the WS stats of Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig, and Gibson, but disgusting is one that immediately comes to mind. When will Baseball stop diminishing the records of previous generations to promote the current game for the almighty dollar? Somewhere down the road, a price will be paid for their ham-handed promotion of the Game. A player’s WS stats should not be combined with Playoff stats, and should only be compared to another’s WS stats, PERIOD!