Quillz

Three-way division ties in baseball

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Last year's ties in the NL West and NL Central got me thinking.

 

Given a three-way tie is possible but not likely, how did baseball determine it in the 1969-93 format? I was thinking about this earlier and I couldn't figure it out. I would assume a round robin tournament, but that still leaves the possibility of all three teams ending up 1-1. At that point, what stats are taken into account to break a tie? The National League used to do a best-of-three playoff, but that only happened once and only involved two teams.

 

Under the current playoff format, I don't think the same issues occur because more teams make the playoffs. 

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They would probably use some stat to determine the 2 best teams like run differential and have them play a 1 game elimination game.

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12 minutes ago, dont care said:

They would probably use some stat to determine the 2 best teams like run differential and have them play a 1 game elimination game.

I suppose. Would be the easy way out.

 

I was thinking if you have three teams, you do something like:

 

A plays B.

B plays C.

C plays A.

 

If A wins both games, they are 2-0 and thus will be guaranteed to move to another one-game playoff. B and C would then wind up 1-1 and 0-2, the weaker team being eliminated and the other going on the road for the one-game playoff. Only in the event all three teams go 1-1 would run differential be taken into account.

 

I don't think this ever happened in baseball but I wish it did at least once for precedent purposes. Last year's ties weren't that interesting because the losers still made the playoffs, although I wasn't sure how home-field advantage for one-game playoffs was determined.

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20 minutes ago, Quillz said:

I suppose. Would be the easy way out.

 

I was thinking if you have three teams, you do something like:

 

A plays B.

B plays C.

C plays A.

 

If A wins both games, they are 2-0 and thus will be guaranteed to move to another one-game playoff. B and C would then wind up 1-1 and 0-2, the weaker team being eliminated and the other going on the road for the one-game playoff. Only in the event all three teams go 1-1 would run differential be taken into account.

 

I don't think this ever happened in baseball but I wish it did at least once for precedent purposes. Last year's ties weren't that interesting because the losers still made the playoffs, although I wasn't sure how home-field advantage for one-game playoffs was determined.

Stats are used to determine first selection. Best winner of tiebreakers can choose to be A B or C, second between the two, and third with whatever is left.

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As I recall, the procedure for three-way ties in the four-division era 1969-1993 involved no ranking according to tie-breakers such as head-to-head play. The procedure was to draw lots to select which team gets a bye, and then to have the other two teams play (at a location selected by a coin flip) for the right to meet the bye team.

 

Drawing lots or flipping a coin might seem like an odd way of deciding things. But that is how home field was decided in the case of two-team ties such as the Yankees and Red Sox in 1978 and the Dodgers and Astros in 1980. (The book about the 1985 Yankees and Mets, Doc, Donnie, the Kid, and Billy Brawl, by Chris Donnelly, notes that the Mets and Blue Jays had won the coin flips, and would have hosted the Cardinals and Yankees, respectively, if tie-breakers had been necessary that year.)

 

1 hour ago, Quillz said:

The National League used to do a best-of-three playoff, but that only happened once and only involved two teams.

 

It is true that, before divisional play began in 1969, the National League's procedure for breaking a tie for the pennant was by means of a best-of-three series, in contrast to the single game which was used in the American League. But this happened four times (all involving the Dodgers):

 

1946: Cardinals-Dodgers

1951: Giants-Dodgers 

1959: Dodgers-Braves

1962: Giants-Dodgers

 

In 1969, the National League switched to a one-game playoff for first-place ties in a divisional race.

 

This best-of-three system created its own potential oddity, by virtue of the games counting as regular-season games: one of the teams that finished in a tie for first could end up in third place after the conclusion of the playoff series.

 

This would require a team to finish the normal schedule one game behind the two tied teams.  So let us imagine that the Giants and the Dodgers finish tied, with the Braves finishing one game back.

 

__________W_L__Pct. GB
Giants.....95 59 .617 —
Dodgers..95 59 .617 —
Braves.....94 60 .610 1

 

Now let us imagine that one of the tied teams sweeps the playoff series two games to none; let's say that the Giants sweep the Dodgers. We then have this:

 

__________W_L__Pct. GB
Giants.....97 59 .622 —
Braves.....94 60 .610 2
Dodgers..95 61 .609 2

 

In this scenario, the Dodgers, having been swept in the playoff, fall to third place, with a winning percentage that is lower than the winning percentage of the team that had been in third place at the end of the regulation schedule, the Braves.

 

If the scenario described above had played out, it would have been very strange. But it is a necessary consequence of considering these playoff games to be regular-season games. 

 

This turn of events would have created a crisis, not only for the historical record, but also because the players' shares of the World Series money were significantly higher for the second-place finisher than for the third-place finisher. The National League would surely have had to make a ruling on the matter. To see how this would have played out would be very interesting.

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12 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

but also because the players' shares of the World Series money were significantly higher for the second-place finisher than for the third-place finisher

I don't understand this. The Giants go the World Series in this scenario, why would the Braves and Dodgers get any money?

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28 minutes ago, goalieboy82 said:

Hmm, it's a bit simpler than I thought then. They even accounted for a four-way tie. That would be interesting to see. I didn't realize they valued the series after the All-Star Break more than before, although it's noted you do add pre-All-Star Break games if necessary to break a tie.

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3 minutes ago, Quillz said:

I don't understand this. The Giants go the World Series in this scenario, why would the Braves and Dodgers get any money?

 

That's the way they do it. Before 1969, players on teams finishing in the first division (the top half of the league) got shares of the World Series money, decreasing with finishing position.

 

After 1969, the top three teams in each division got shares, with the formulation being further adjusted with the coming of realignment and the wild card.

 

You can read more about it here.

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Just now, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

Before 1969, players on teams finishing in the first division (the top half of the league) got shares of the World Series money

Oh, I didn't know this. So really just try to be in the top four.

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