Is it better to be lucky or good?
That age-old question was one that researchers at Bookies.com were hoping to answer this offseason.
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The Bookies.com team of researchers examined every single MLB team since 1995 that won at least 60 percent of their regular season games, but did not go on to win the World Series.
That intiial criteria helped widdle down the field of eligible teams down to 47, and the researchers then implemented a point-based algorithm in order to determine which team over the last 27 years would be chosen as "the most unlucky team in MLB history."
Each team received one point for every regular season win, a point for each postseason win, a point for each All-Star that was on the roster from that specific year, as well as each current and projected future Hall of Famer.
After that, researchers examined actual moments in playoff games to determine if these teams with the highest point totals were actually unlucky (injuries, bad calls, bad bounces, etc.) or beaten by a better team.
Here are the final results:
As you can deduce yourself from the data, having the most wins or the most talented roster doesn't always equate to winning World Series championships. Over the last 27 years, the team with the best overall record in baseball at the end of the regular season has gone on to win the World Series just seven times. One of those teams of course is the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers that were 43-17 in a 60-game COVID-19 shortened season.
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It should come as no surprise that the 2001 Seattle Mariners were named the most unlucky team in MLB history. Seattle won an MLB record 116 games that season and were the overwhelming favorite to win the World Series that year. They didn't just beat teams, they blew them out, recording a record 59 wins by four runs or more. However, that dominance didn't translate to the postseason where after squeaking by the then-Cleveland Indians in five games, they lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the ALCS.
The 2019 Houston Astros landed in the No. 2 spot on the list, and we're not sure if that's because of bad luck or bad karma. The 2017 Astros famously cheated to win the World Series over the Dodgers that year. That Dodgers team finished tied for third on the list.
Many believe that the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers were one of the best teams of the last decade. They finished the season with 104 wins, and lost only one game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. That team featured six All-Stars in eventual Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, the 2016 Rookie of the year winner Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Alex Wood, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen. The team acquired Yu Darvish at the trade deadline and had a lethal starting rotation of Kershaw, Rich Hill, Darvish and Wood. Not to mention a bullpen featuring Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow, and Jansen.
The 2017 Dodgers won the first game of the World Series, and blew a lead in Game 2 when Jansen surrendered back-to-back homers in the 9th. The series shifted back to Houston tied 1-1, where the Astros sign-stealing scheme was in full effect. Knowing which pitches were coming against Darvish and Kershaw, the Astros took 2-of-3 games at home before the Dodgers won Game 6 in LA to force a Game 7. Darvish gave up 5 runs in the first two innings and the Dodgers never recovered.
The Dodgers are featured again in the top 10 list of most lunlucky teams in MLB history, with the 2021 iteration ranked eighth.
The 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers were arguably more unlucky than the 2017 team that lost to the Astros in the World Series. The team tied a franchise record with 106 wins, but finished second in the NL West behind the San Francisco Giants who won a franchise-best 107 wins.
In the offseason, the Dodgers signed reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer to a three-year contract, but the pitcher faced off-the-field accusations of sexual assault and was placed on administrative leave for the remainder of the season and playoffs on July 2. In total, he would miss 81 games including the postseason.
The Dodgers acquired Trea Turner and Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline to help fill the void in the rotation left by Bauer. However, after closing Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants, Scherzer would deal with "dead arm" for the entirety of the NLCS against the Braves and was unable to pitch again in the series after struggling in Game 2.
In his final start of the regular season, Clayton Kershaw left the game early with left bicep and elbow soreness. He did not pitch again and missed the entire playoffs. On the last day of the season, first baseman Max Muncy was involved in a collision at first base and tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He would also miss the entire postseason.
After falling in Games 1 and 2 against Atlanta with some bad-luck at the end, the Dodgers won two of the next three in Los Angeles to send the series back to the South for Game 6. Once again Scherzer could not make his scheduled start in Game 6 with arm fatigue, and the Dodgers were forced to start Walker Buehler on short rest. Buehler pitched will before allowing a three-run homer to Eddie Rosario that proved to be the difference in the game.
For more information on the Bookies.com research, check out the entirety of their "unluckiest MLB teams" list here.