So, I searched the web until I found the statistics I needed to do the calculations myself. I also calculated the expected number of wins using two different exponents in the formula. The original formula uses 2 as the exponent, while a revised version uses an exponent of 1.83, which is what I used here.
For more on the formula, go here.
As I expected, this year's Orioles team is one of the 20 luckiest teams of all time. I was surprised to see them 5th overall though. The first place entry is kind of amazing - a team outscored by almost 100 runs in a season, and they still finished above .500. When I looked at that season in a bit more detail, I saw a team that lost by a lot quite often, but managed to win the closer games. Sort of like this year's Orioles.
It is interesting to note that 6 of the top 20 lucky seasons have occurred in the 21st century.
|2004||New York Yankees||162||101||61||897||808||0.548||88.7||12.3|
|2008||Los Angeles Angels||162||100||62||765||697||0.542||87.9||12.1|
|1984||New York Mets||162||90||72||652||676||0.483||78.3||11.7|
|1972||New York Mets||156||83||73||528||578||0.459||71.6||11.4|
|1955||Kansas City Athletics||155||63||91||638||911||0.343||53.1||9.9|
|1997||San Francisco Giants||162||90||72||784||793||0.495||80.2||9.8|
|1917||St. Louis Cardinals||154||82||70||531||567||0.470||72.4||9.6|
|1936||St. Louis Cardinals||155||87||67||795||794||0.501||77.6||9.4|
A few things stand out in this list. The 2004 Yankees are the only team in baseball history to lose a playoff series after leading 3 games to none. But, if they had won the 89 games they were expected to win, the Red Sox would have won the division, and perhaps the Red Sox would not have won their first title since 1918.
The 1970 Reds team went to the World Series, where they lost 4-1 to a 108 win Orioles team. The 1972 Mets didn't go to the World Series, which saw the A's beat the Reds, but in 1973, the Mets did go to the series, where they also lost to the A's.
It's amazing to think how bad the 1943 Braves should have been. And the 1955 Athletics should have lost 100 games.
The 1961 Reds did go to the World Series, but they were beaten easily by the Yankees, who were led by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, who combined for 115 home runs that season.
The 1936 Cardinals were two years removed from their 1934 Gashouse Gang championship, but in 1936, they finished 5 games behind the Giants.
Not one team in this list won a World Series. The Reds, twice, are the only team in this list to have even gone to the world series.
And, given their overall statistics, I do not expect this year's Orioles to make it to the world series. But, in short series, anything can happen. The 1988 Dodgers were clearly the worst team in the playoffs, yet they beat a much better Mets team in the NLCS and came within a Mark McGwire home run of sweeping the A's in the series. The great thing about baseball is that anything can happen.
For the sake of completeness, here are the unluckiest teams of all time according to the same formula:
|1993||New York Mets||162||59||103||672||744||0.454||73.5||-14.5|
|1905||St. Louis Browns||156||54||99||512||608||0.422||65.8||-11.8|
|1939||St. Louis Browns||156||43||111||733||1035||0.347||54.2||-11.2|
|1999||Kansas City Royals||161||64||97||856||921||0.467||75.1||-11.1|
|1924||St. Louis Cardinals||154||65||89||740||750||0.494||76.1||-11.1|
|1993||San Diego Padres||162||61||101||679||772||0.442||71.5||-10.5|
Not surprisingly, none of these teams won a world series, or even went to the series. And, in 1904, there was no series, but Cleveland in 1904 finished only 1.5 games behind the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox), so they clearly should have been AL champions that year.