WHY DID THESE TEAMS LOSE SO MANY PLAYOFF SERIES THAT THEY WERE FAVORED TO WIN?

The Atlanta Braves had the best rotation in the game and won the division annually (minus the 1994 strike shortened season). They also won pennants in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999. Despite all this success, they only won the World Series in 1995. The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and actually had increasingly better teams every year until 2011, but were eliminated earlier in the playoffs each season. In 2011 they had the best record in the game and the best in franchise history.

1991-1999 ATLANTA BRAVES

SERIES THAT THEY WON

Team ERA: 2.41

Team BA: .254

Team OBP: .334

Team HR on Average (Best of 7): 6

Team HR on Average (Best of 5): 4

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 7): 45

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 5): 28

SERIES THAT THEY LOST

Team ERA: 3.07

Team BA: .245

Team OBP: .315

Team HR on Average (Best of 7): 4

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 7): 44

There’s little difference in the statistics that they accumulated between the series that they won and the ones that they lost. Obviously they were slightly worse in the latter, but not to the point where it was a difference that you could point to. So why did they lose so many playoff series that they should’ve won?

Bobby Cox.

Cox’s all-time win-loss record in the 15 playoff series in which his team was eliminated is 24-53. Cox’s record in elimination games at Turner Field is 0-8. The 1996 Atlanta Braves became the first team in history to lose four straight World Series games (with three at home). That’s after they were beating the New York Yankees 2-0 as the favorites and after winning both games in New York. He even did poorly while managing the heavily favored Toronto Blue Jays against the Kansas City Royals in the 1985 ALCS, blowing a 3-1 Series lead and losing 3 games in a row. Cox was uncreative, overused his pitchers, overworked his position starters and barely used his bench players. The reason for Atlanta’s failure to win more titles is Bobby Cox.

2008-2011 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

SERIES THAT THEY WON

Team ERA: 2.73

Team BA: .253

Team OBP: .345

Team HR on Average (Best of 7): 8

Team HR on Average (Best of 5): 3

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 7): 37

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 5): 28

SERIES THAT THEY LOST

Team ERA: 4.06

Team BA: .223

Team OBP: .300

Team HR on Average (Best of 7): 7

Team HR on Average (Best of 5): 3

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 7): 56

Team Strikeouts on Average (Best of 5): 45

It’s pretty clear that the pitching and hitting was the culprit in their series losses. Unlike Atlanta, they simply were worse in the playoff series that they lost. So which players were especially bad during their series losses? I’m not including the 2009 World Series, as they weren’t the favorites to win it.

2010 NLCS: Philadelphia lost 4-2 to the San Francisco Giants. 2B Chase Utley batted only .182/.333/.227 during the series, despite batting .275/.387/.445 during the season. RF Shane Victorino batted a decent .259/.327/.429 during the season, but a terrible .208/.296/.250 during the series. SP Roy Halladay went 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA during the series, after going 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA during the season.

2011 NLDS: Philadelphia lost 3-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals. 1B Ryan Howard batted a terrible .105/.143/.263 during the series, despite batting .253/.346/.488 during the season. RF Hunter Pence batted a very good .314/.370/.502 during the season (split between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia). He batted .211/.286/.211 during the series. SP Cliff Lee went 0-1 7.50 in 6 IP during the series, after going 17-8 2.40 during the season. SP Roy Oswalt also went 0-1 7.50 during the series, after going 9-10 3.69 during the season.

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