So Which Team ‘Should’ Win the World Series, Anyway?

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If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to the World Series, to discussion on the World Series, or to baseball in general over the past few days, you’ve undoubtedly wandered across this ESPN article about how 2014 features “the worst World Series ever.” Both the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants were fairly mediocre in the regular season — both of them barely edged out over .500, not exactly the records you’d suspect from the two teams that are supposed to represent the best of baseball. You may have come to the conclusion that there was going to be no winner of the 2014 MLB World Series, that everyone would forget that it happened, and that it’d instead be awarded to the Red Sox or the Yankees or the Cardinals or some other team.

That’s not going to happen, and the fact that the “best” regular-season teams in baseball didn’t manage to make it all the way to the game’s biggest stage is more of a testament to the excellence of the game, right? This is Major League, this is The Sandlot. This is, metaphorically speaking, that speech from Bull Durham and all that other Grantland Rice ephemera that makes people listen to Bruce Springsteen and make other terrible life decisions in the meantime. It doesn’t get any more baseball-y than having two scrappy teams make it all the way on a couple of miracles, even if San Francisco’s not really that bad and Kansas City just figured out that if you forget how to lose all that’s left to do is win, or something.

The fact that literally no one predicted a Royals-Giants World Series should be an encouraging reminder that guesswork is just only that, and that there are still some numbers we can look at to see which team should come away victorious. Because, clearly, “should” has served everyone so well so far.

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It’s important to note that we’re going to shy away from the moral imperative behind “should,” since (in the interest of full disclosure) we should note that we’re not fans of the Giants or the Royals. We’ve got no dog in this fight as to which team deserves it more — even if the Giants have won the Series more recently than the Royals, and so they probably deserve it more — and which team would be a more karmically “correct” winner, even if the answer to that is probably Kansas City, if you’re into the arbitrary sort of fairness. No, instead, we’re going to compare Pythagorean Wins between the two clubs, see which one overachieved more, and then see if there’s a difference.

By that standard, it’s the Giants, who were projected to win anywhere between two and 10 more games than their Kansas City opponents. That doesn’t mean that they will win, mind you, since the true outcome of this movie could boil down to which team has a better Cinderella story as told to the Illuminati — or, if you’re unimaginative, which team plays better baseball — but as it stands, by the numbers, the Giants should win the World Series. Which means about as much as you think it does.