Heading into the Playoffs

Harrisburg Senators
How much does momentum really affect the playoffs? If a team has to play out of its mind to reach the postseason, do they carry that over? Or is it a matter of all teams being equal once again?

As the Senators are on the precipice of another playoff appearance, I wanted to see if there was any correlation to how a team played down the stretch and how they fared in the playoffs. I used the last five years of data in the Eastern League to gather, organize, and draw conclusions on.

First, I looked at the 20 teams who made the playoffs in the last five years and their record from August 1st to the end of the regular season:

month
Playing bad baseball in August doesn’t translate to the postseason
• Six teams compiled a record under .500 from August 1st to the end of the regular season
• Three of those six teams won their semi-final playoff matchup
• None of them, however, won the Eastern League Championship

Playing good baseball in August doesn’t translate to the postseason
• Of the five teams who had the best record from August 1st to the end of the regular season amongst the playoff teams each year, only one has won a semi-final playoff series
• That team, the 2009 Akron Aeros, also won the EL title
• The teams with the best records from August 1st to the end of the regular season the last three seasons (Bowie in 2012 and Harrisburg in 2011 & 2010) were all defeated in the first round

Maybe not in the first round, but the better teams win championships
• In the ten semi-final matchups, the team with the better record since August 1st has won four and lost five (with one pitting teams with identical records against each other)
• In the five championship finals, the team with the better record since August 1st has won four and lost one

So, how do the four presumed playoff teams look into late August?

Binghamton 17-11
Trenton 15-11
Erie 15-13
Harrisburg 14-12

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Next, I looked at the 20 teams who made the playoffs in the last five years and their record during the last ten games of the regular season:

last10
Middle of the road play gets mixed results
• Four teams compiled a record under .500 for the last ten games
• Two of those four teams won their semi-final playoff matchup
• Neither of them, however, won the Eastern League Championship

A good last week carries over to the playoffs
• Of the seven teams who had the best record over the last ten games amongst the playoff teams each year (two years are represented by two teams because of a tied record), four have won a semi-final playoff series
• Three of those four teams won the EL title
• The teams with the best record for the last ten games during the last two seasons (Bowie in 2012 and Reading in 2011) were both defeated in the first round

Maybe not in the first round, but the better teams win championships (Pt. 2)
• In the ten semi-final matchups, the team with the better record in the last ten games has won four and lost six
• In the five championship finals, the team with the better record in the last ten games has won four (with one pitting teams with identical records against each other)

So, how do the four presumed playoff teams look in their last ten games so far?

Harrisburg 5-0
Trenton 3-1
Binghamton 3-2
Erie 2-2

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