In order to convert it, I looked at season series as “games.” For divisional matchups, each division opponent played twice, with the home series determining one win, and the road series determining the other. So, a 5-4 win in the season series at home counted as a win every bit as much as a 8-1 season series win, just as a 20-17 win counts as a win the same as a 38-10 victory. For non-divisional matchups, I had to get a little more creative. In baseball, teams play every team in the conference at least one series, and often more. In football, teams don’t play every conference opponent.
Rather than create schedules and ignore certain series, I used a weighted approach. Think of it like the electoral college. The Yankees earned 10 wins by beating both the Mariners (6-4) and the Athletics (9-1), but only 3 wins for beating Arizona (2-1). If teams played an even number of games and tied on record, then the win went to the team with the better head to head run differential. I added all season series wins against non-division opponents, divided by the total number of non-division games, to determine the winning percentage assigned to the team in non-divisional games.
Here are the results for the American League:
Tampa Bay actually translates to a 14-2 team in football. This is not to say that every 95 win team equals a 14 win football team, because the New York Yankees had the same number of wins but finished at 11-5. The difference was the Rays’ close series wins, as they swept the Yankees by winning 5 games in both New York and Tampa. If these were football teams, we would be talking about how the Yankees just couldn’t win the big one against the Rays by losing two close games at the end, but since it is baseball, we just view them as equals. The Chicago White Sox (88 wins) and Cleveland Indians (69 wins) were separated by 19 games in the baseball standings. They both finished 7-9 as the White Sox blew out teams when they won series, but lost a lot of close ones. As a result, the playoffs (if it was a football playoff structure) would have Tampa Bay as the #1 seed and Minnesota as the #2, while Texas (#3) would play Toronto (#6) and the Yankees (#4) would host the Red Sox (#5).
Here are the results for the National League:
San Diego was eliminated from the playoffs on the final day of the season with the loss to the Giants. Here, they win the division because they had already completed a season sweep of San Francisco. Chicago actually finished with a worse record than Pittsburgh thanks to being swept by the Pirates and some other bad luck. At the top, Philadelphia earned the #1 seed based on tiebreakers, while San Diego would have also had a first round bye. Colorado would have snuck into the sixth spot over Milwaukee based on head to head tiebreakers, with the matchups being Cincinnati (#3) vs. Colorado (#6) and Atlanta (#4) vs. San Francisco (#5). [photo via Getty]