Going the distance in DS isn't a recipe for success
Postseason ponderings: A five-game Division Series does not bode well for the winner for the remainder of their postseason. Since the permanent addition of the best-of-five Division Series in 1995, 17 of the series have gone the full five games. Only seven of those teams won their League Championship Series, and only three -- St. Louis in 2011, Arizona in '01 and the New York Yankees in '00 -- have emerged as World Series champions. However, the odds were certainly with St. Louis last year, and Arizona in 2001. Three of the four Division Series those years went the maximum five games. A seven-game LCS does not have any history of impacting the World Series winner. In the past 16 years, there have been eight LCS that went seven games. Four times the team has won the World Series championship, including 2003, when the Marlins beat the Yankees, and '04, when Boston beat St. Louis, with all four of those teams coming off seven-game LCS. In 2006, coming off a seven-game NLCS, St. Louis beat Detroit in the World Series, and in '07, Boston rebounded from its seven-game ALCS showdown with Cleveland to sweep Colorado. On the flip side, Atlanta lost to the Yankees in the 1996 World Series, and Tampa Bay lost to Philadelphia in the 2008 World Series. With the wins by San Francisco and Oakland on Tuesday night, baseball avoided a Division Series sweep for the second straight year, but only the third time in the 17 seasons. In addition to this year and 2011, there was no sweep in '03. There have been 27 sweeps since the permanent addition of the Division Series, including three sweeps in '09 and '07. Washington teen sensation Bryce Harper has gone 1-for-10 in the first two games of the NLDS, but he has been working at-bats. Harper went to a full count in four of the 10 at-bats and had six at-bats in which he saw six or more pitches. Harper has put the first pitch of an at-bat in play three times, including for his only hit -- a double in his fourth at-bat of Game 2. Harper is one of seven players with at least 10 at-bats and only one hit in this year's Division Series. Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder (who was limited to one hit in14 at-bats in 2008 with Milwaukee), San Francisco outfielders Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence and Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro are 1-for-12. Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick of Oakland are, like Harper, 1-for-10.
Steve Finley was held to one hit in 10 at-bats or more three times during a Division Series. He went 1-for-12 for San Diego in 1996, 1-for-11 for the Angels in 2005, and 1-for-10 with San Diego in 1998. There have been 109 other times prior to this year, according to Stats Inc., in which a hitter had one or no hits with at least 10 at-bats in a Division Series. Cincinnati's 0.96 ERA in its first three NLDS games against San Francisco would rank tied for third lowest in Division Series history. Atlanta had a 0.96 ERA in 1996. The New York Yankees had the lowest Division Series ERA at 0.33 in both 1998 and 1999. At the other extreme, Washington's 6.88 ERA after the first two games with St. Louis would rank as the seventh highest in Division Series history. The all-time record is 9.63 by Cleveland in 1999. The Yankees did not allow a home run in the two games at Camden Yards. Only six teams have gotten through a Division Series without allowing a home run -- Atlanta in 1996, the Yankees in '98 and 2009, the Marlins in '03, Boston in '07, and St. Louis in '06.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.