The Astros are overwhelming favorites to win the 2019 World Series, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers and pretty much everyone on Twitter who doesn’t live in our nation’s capital. Officially, they’re the heaviest favorite since 2007, when the Red Sox were -240 favorites to beat the Rockies, and Boston finished that less-than-classic World Series in four games, outscoring Colorado 29-10. The Astros opened at -235.
But history tells us that the odds are often wrong, that presumed favorites still have their work cut out for him. Hell, World Series history in Washington, D.C., tells us that.
I wanted to see what was written in the pages of The Sporting News magazine about the Fall Classic the last time it was played in the capital, so I looked up the Oct. 12, 1933, issue. That year, the National League champion New York Giants beat the American League champion Washington Senators in five games.
WYLLYS: Nats-Astros World Series could shift MLB’s pitching debate
On the front page, there was a column from Denman Thompson, eating crow.
“The writer picked Washington to give New York a sound walloping in the World’s Series and the best Joe Cronin’s boys could do was win one of the five games needed to determine the champion. My only solace is that I sank with plenty of company. This year’s Series proved that millions of America’s guessers could be wrong.”
That year, the Senators (who left D.C. after the 1960 season and became the Minnesota Twins) won 99 games, outpacing the Yankees — still with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the heart of the lineup — by eight wins. They were the first AL team to reach the World Series other than the Yankees or Philadelphia A’s since 1925.
Not that WAR was a statistic back then, but nine Senators had a WAR of 3.0 or better, from Joe Cronin’s 7.2 down to Goose Goslin’s 3.2. Even though they might not have had the fancy numbers to back it up, everyone knew how good the Senators really were.
The Giants won 91 games and the NL crown. They had Carl Hubbell — the NL MVP — atop the rotation and 24-year-old future Hall of Famer Mel Ott anchoring the lineup. Still, they apparently weren’t given much of a chance. Again, from Thompson’s column:
“Up to the day the Series started none who made the American League club the favorite could see where the National League standard bearer had a chance. For them, the series was played in reverse. Throughout the classic, American League sympathizers wailed that Washington got none of the breaks. Perhaps it didn’t. But it lacked more than luck. It lacked base hits. Which makes the old contention that pitching is the telling factor in a short series such as that for the world championship stand out like a sore thumb. The Giants had great pitching, a lot of it. The Senators had great pitching in one game, good pitching every once in a while in the others — but not often.”
Maybe there was a bit of league bias at work. The AL had won five of the previous six World Series titles: the Yankees in 1927, 1928 and 1932, and the A’s had won in 1929 and 1930. Only the Cardinals, in 1931, broke the mold, beating the A’s in seven games. In those five AL titles, the Yankees and A’s combined to go 20-3 against the NL squads. So, yeah.
“On championship season records, the Senators stood to thump solidly a lot of box artists who had made shiny records in a supposedly weak-hitting league. The Giants, rated mediocre batters in the main, loomed as marks for pitchers who had repeatedly checked the American League fence-busters. Those season records proved no good. The Giants in the World’s Series maintained the batting stride they had followed in their league pennant campaign all right. But the Senators never got swinging vigorously enough to work up a good circulation of runners around the base paths.”
BERNSTEIN: The Astros are what the Yankees, Dodgers wish they could be
The Giants took the first two games, winning 4-2 and 6-1 at home. The Senators won Game 3, 4-0, but the Giants won Games 4 and 5, both in extra innings, to clinch the crown. Hubbell was brilliant, allowing zero earned runs (three unearned) in 20 innings covering two starts. Ott clubbed a pair of home runs — including the go-ahead 10th-inning solo home run in Game 5 that proved to be the clincher — and batted .389 for the series.
“In no department of play did the American League champions excel their rivals in baseball’s fall classic. They barely missed matching them in fielding, but fell far behind the Giants offensively and were greatly outclassed on the pitching peak. In every way, the Giants fully deserved their victory. They were the class of the Series and luck played no part in their success. The National League champions triumphed through sheer ability.”
So what does that mean for the 2019 World Series?
Nothing directly, of course. Maybe just this: Instead of just focusing on how great the American League team is, take a few minutes to consider the strengths of the team from National League, too.
Source: Read Full Article