Nationals vs. Astros: Road team wins all seven games of 2019 World Series to make history and defy odds
The road team outscored the home team by margin of 49-14 in the 2019 Fall Classic
First and foremost, the Washington Nationals win over the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night gave them their first championship in franchise history. That's the most important thing. Notable nonetheless, however, is that in the 2019 World Series the road team went undefeated. Indeed, for the first time in MLB history the road team went 7-0 in the World Series. Just two other World Series -- the 1906 and 1996 editions -- saw the road team win the first five games, but never has the first six or even all seven been won by the squad in road grays (or navy blues in this instance).
The Nats entered the series as 2-to-1 underdogs against the 107-win Astros. Despite that, the Nats took Games 1 and 2 in Houston, and then they headed back home in enviable position. Specifically, teams up 2-0 in a best of seven postseason series and headed home for Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) go on to win the series in question 88.5 percent of the time. The Nats, though, lost the next three games and then went back to Houston. At that point, the odds were long for Washington once again. Teams down 3-2 and headed out on the road for Games 6 and maybe 7, as the Nats were, lose the series 77.6 percent of the time. That, however, didn't happen. The Nats won the next two and took the series.
This sort of sums it up. Over the four games in Houston, the Nationals scored a total of 30 runs. In the three games at home, the Nationals scored a total of ... three runs. Yes, the champion Nats averaged 7.5 runs per game at Minute Maid Park while averaging 1.0 run -- yes, singular -- at Nationals Park. The Astros, meantime, averaged just 2.8 runs per game at home but 6.3 runs per game on the road. In all, the road team outscored the home team by margin of 49-14. That's nothing more than short-run weirdness/randomness, but at the same time it's never happened before.
In baseball, the home team wins roughly 54 percent of the time. By extension, the road team wins about 46 percent of the time. So if we assume that the road team in this series had a 46 percent chance of winning each contest, what are the odds of that road team winning all seven games? In quick-and-dirty terms, you're looking at about 0.44 percent chance of something like this happening. Given that such a thing required the superior team -- the 107-win Astros -- to lose at home four of the seven times, the odds are probably even longer than that.
Really, though, we're being too narrow in emphasizing the unlikely nature of this. MLB, the NBA, and the NHL have combined for more than 1,400 best-of-seven postseason series. This is the first time the road team has won seven games in any of those series. It's no exaggeration to characterize what happened in the 2019 World Series as a sports miracle.
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