|(Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)|
The Atlanta Braves made the playoffs 14 seasons in a row from 1991 to 2005, but only won the World Series one time and were considered a disappointment because of it. With eight teams making the playoffs, on average, a team will win once every eight times it gets in there (slightly more if they’re better than the average playoff team, slightly less if they’re worse). Fans and baseball analysts usually grossly overstate this “slightness”. More on that in a minute. Anyways, the Braves would have been expected to win 1.75 times out of those 14. If they had won twice they would have actually exceeded the expected.
But, if they were always the best team in the league surely they should have won more often, you may think. But not necessarily. As I alluded to above, most people overestimate the advantage a better team has over an inferior one. Sure, the better team is more likely to win, but the advantage is typically small. It’s rare in a playoff series to have a team be expected to win with more than a 60% probability.