How Much Does Momentum Matter in the MLB Playoffs?

With last night's loss in Kansas City, the Minnesota Twins are now on a four game losing streak, and appear to have lost the edge that carried them to the AL Central Division title last week. But even with the four straight losses, the Twins record in September stands at 16-8 thanks to a torrid 12-2 stretch to start the month. So there's still plenty of momentum leading into the playoffs next week. And with a 92-64 record, the Twins will end up with between 92 and 98 wins during the regular season. How does the Twins September and overall record compare to the last ten World Series Champions?

Year
Team
Sept-Oct. W-L
Overall W-L
Final GB
2009
New York Yankees
20-11
103-59
+8.0
2008
Philadelphia Phillies
17-8
92-70
+3.0
2007
Boston Red Sox
16-11
96-66
+2.0
2006
St. Louis Cardinals
12-17
83-78
+1.5
2005
Chicago White Sox
19-12
99-63
+6.0
2004
Boston Red Sox
21-11
98-64
-3.0
2003
Florida Marlins
18-8
91-71
-10.0
2002
Anaheim Angels
18-9
99-63
-4.0
2001
Arizona Diamondbacks
14-13
92-70
+2.0
2000
New York Yankees
13-18
87-74
+2.5

Average
16.8-11.8
94.0-67.8

It appears that the Twins record, both overall and in September is right in line with these champs. And in the case of the 2006 Cardinals and 2000 Yankees (also the only two champs with less than 90 wins), a lack of September momentum did not prevent them from winning the World Series title. In three cases, a wild card team ended up as champion, and only two (2009 Yankees, 2005 White Sox) won their division title by a comfortable margin as the Twins have already done.

What does this tell us? Not a ton, given the tournament-like crapshoot nature of the MLB Playoffs. But it does tell us that the Twins records, both overall and over the last month, are comparable to recent World Series Champions.

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