Coolstandings.com Releases Historical Ranking of Baseball's Greatest Comebacks and Collapses

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The most improbable baseball comebacks and most dramatic collapses are now ranked at coolstandings.com, which has simulated every Major League Baseball season going back to 1903 to determine the historical playoff chances for every team.

1951 Brooklyn Dodgers Postseason Chances

It's fascinating to explore all the past seasons and relive pennant races through the standings and teams' playoff chances

Baseball. The game has linked generations of fans for more than a hundred years, encompassing thousands of games, dozens of teams, and a score of truly memorable pennant races. Many of the teams that have stood the test of time are those that were involved in the greatest regular season collapses and the most remarkable comebacks.

But which collapse was the worst of all time? For that matter, which comeback was the most improbable?

To quantify and rank the top collapses and comebacks, coolstandings.com has modeled every season going back to 1903, the year that concluded with the first World Series. Using game scores maintained by retrosheet.org, and factoring in such variables as team performance and strength of schedule, coolstandings has simulated the remainder of each season 10,000 times for every day of every season to determine each team's daily playoff chances, now posted on the site.

"It's fascinating to explore all the past seasons and relive pennant races through the standings and teams' playoff chances," comments CTO and co-founder Sean Walsh.

To determine the greatest comebacks of all time, coolstandings has analyzed all teams that have made the postseason, and ranked them by their lowest playoff chances during the season.

Using this method, two comebacks are tied for the number two spot. The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals found themselves in 8th place in late July, 10 games out of first, with only a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs. Led by new acquisition Lou Brock, the Cardinals worked their way back and took advantage of the dramatic Phillies "Phold" in September to claim the pennant on the last day of the regular season.

The 2005 Houston Astros also found themselves with only a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs, getting off to a terrible 15-30 start. But they slowly climbed back into the race and claimed the National League wild card, becoming only the second team to make the postseason after being 15 games under .500.

The first team to accomplish that feat tops the list of most improbable comebacks, rallying from less than a 0.1% chance of making the postseason after finding itself in last place, 15 games out of first. From that point the team went 68-19 to win the pennant by a whopping 10.5 games.

Analyzing the teams that failed to make the playoffs, coolstandings has ranked the worst collapses of all time by sorting peak playoff chances held by a team during the season.

Two summers ago, the New York Mets squandered a 7 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with only 17 games to play, and failed to earn even the wild card as the Rockies won 14 of their final 15 games. Mets fans lamented that the end of the 2007 regular season was the worst collapse of all time. But in fact, it was only the third worst collapse of all time, as the Mets blew a 99.5% chance of making the playoffs.

The Brooklyn Dodgers held a 13 game lead over the second place New York Giants in August of 1951, giving the Dodgers a 99.7% chance of making the postseason. But the Dodgers went cold as the Giants mounted a stirring comeback, and the teams ended the regular season tied to force a three game playoff. Bobby Thomson's ninth-inning homer, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World", clinched the pennant for the Giants in the third and deciding game.

Only one team pulled off a worse collapse than the 1951 Dodgers, failing to make the postseason after reaching a stunning 99.9% chance of making the playoffs. Was it the 1978 Red Sox? The 1969 Cubs? Or another fateful team that disappointed the baseball gods?

Check out the complete list of historical comebacks and collapses at coolstandings.com to relive some of baseball's greatest memories, where you can also continue to track your favorite team's 2009 playoff chances.

About coolstandings.com

Coolstandings.com projects the playoff picture for baseball, football, and basketball, calculating the chance of each team making the playoffs - updated daily - by simulating the remainder of the season millions of times. The model takes into account strength of schedule, home and road performance, and various other factors to determine each team's playoff chances, and has been optimized using historical data going back to 1903.

Coolstandings.com - find out where your team really stands!

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Greg Agami
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