ESPN recently ranked all of the 115 World Series of history from worst to best. Not surprisingly, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2011 win ranked highly.
Now nine whole years ago, the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals began a historical World Series run by first overcoming huge odds to even make the playoffs. Catching the Braves on the last day of the season after being down 10.5 games in the standings on August 24th.
However, the fun was only beginning. We know how it went the rest of the way. The huge NLDS Game 5 complete game shutout by Chris Carpenter, outmuscling the powerhouse Milwaukee Brewers, then all of the fun in the World Series that led to the team winning their 11th World Series victory.
Of course, it was Game 6 and David Freese‘s heroics in the World Series that specifically gave the World Series fame, but we’ll come back to this.
As the leader mentions, ESPN.com (specifically Sam Miller) recently ranked every single World Series in modern baseball in a monster of a piece. How in the world do you rank different World Series reliably? Miller used four different methods to weigh the rankings.
First, Miller used Baseball Reference’s Game Leverage Index. It is fairly self-explanatory, but the more a game swings farther back and forth, the higher the leverage index. Second, he used The Baseball Guage’s Championship Leverage Index. This takes a similar look, but in regards to the series as a whole. Third, Miller considered how memorable a series was, and then lastly he looked at the historical context of it.
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It seems like a lot, and that’s because it was. This was no small task and Miller did a fantastic job digging through all the history. The Cardinals had 10 of their 11 titles scattered throughout the list, with their lowest being at number 100 (2006 win over the Tigers).
However, their 2011 title was all the way at number five overall. According to Miller, the 2011 World Series ranked fifth in Series Leverage and 19th in Game leverage. It’s no surprise, but there were seven major shifts of momentum in “just the final hour” of Game 6, all starting after Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz got the first out of the 9th inning up 7-5.
Miller goes through and lists all seven major shifts. I think we all forget just how crazy the end of Game 6 was. “In the bottom of the 10th inning, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pinch hit for his pitcher with a pitcher — and then pinch hit for the pinch-hitting pitcher with a different pitcher,” wrote Miller. It was among the most memorable games ever, and was definitely the best moment in Cardinals’ history.
Ahead of the Cardinals’ 2011 win was the 1986 Mets’ win over the Red Sox in seven (thank you Bill Buckner), the 1924 Senators over the Giants in seven (tied 1st in series leverage), the 1991 Twins over the Braves, and finally, in first place is the 1975 Reds over the Red Sox.
In that ’75 World Series, Carlton Fisk did his legendary wave to keep his Game 6 homer fair, thus creating the action shot. This series was also tied for 1st in Series Leverage Index, so I guess I can’t complain.
The 2011 World Series can always be first in our hearts as the best World Series we have watched, but having it ranked 5th overall out of every year in the past 115 also is a great compliment.
Check out the piece for yourself, Miller does a fantastic job of capturing the magic of all the biggest moments. Ideally, we have another World Series to talk about in St. Louis soon, but for now, looking back is all we can do.