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Bigger MLB Collapse: Yankees in the 2004 ALCS or Red Sox in the 2011 Season?

The easy way out: the postseason matters more, DEFINITELY has to be the Yankees in 2004! Before you answer …

Number that may change your mind: 99.6%. That’s what Boston’s chances were to lock up a postseason berth on September 3 with 24 games left in the season, leading the Rays by nine games. Another staggering number: 95.6%. According to Fangraphs, that’s what Boston’s chances were Wednesday night in the ninth inning, leading the Orioles with two out and nobody on base.

The ridiculous numbers keep on coming. From Nate Silver:

Trailing 7-0 in the 8th inning, the Rays’ winning chances were all the way down to 0.3 percent — about 300-to-1 against — before they scored 6 runs in the bottom of the inning.

This set of numbers will probably lead Red Sox fans to drink heavily all winter:

The Red Sox had just a 0.3 percent chance of failing to make the playoffs on Sept. 3.
The Rays had just a 0.3 percent chance of coming back after trailing 7-0 with two innings to play.
The Red Sox had only about a 2 percent chance of losing their game against Baltimore, when the Orioles were down to their last strike.
The Rays had about a 2 percent chance of winning in the bottom of the 9th, with Johnson also down to his last strike.

Multiply those four probabilities together, and you get a combined probability of about one chance in 278 million of all these events coming together in quite this way.

Yes, the 2004 ALCS collapse was epic. The Yankees led the series 3-0, and were up a run in the bottom of the ninth inning with the greatest relief pitcher in MLB history looking to lock down the series and send the Yankees back to the World Series (they lost in 2003 to the Marlins). But Boston was at home. The Yankees and Red Sox were 1-2 in payroll. And the Yankees, best I can tell, were never at 99% to win the series.

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