So the Giants decided they wanted to sweep the World Series. Where does such ambition originate? That would be nice to know, but that's not what we're here to discuss today. What we want to know is, as World Series sweeps go, how does the 2012 installment rate on the all-time scale?
The euthanizing of the Tigers marks the 21st time that a team has been swept since the World Series began in earnest in 1903. Not all sweeps are created equally, of course. Sometimes, the vanquished party slugs it out with its conqueror a couple of times or takes them to extra innings. Other times, they roll over on their backs and get kicked in the ribs for four games running.
Let's crank up the Sweep-O-Meter and see what happens. Here's how it works:
Every sweep starts with 100 points as its grand total.
Run differential: For every run that the vanquished team is outscored by the winner, add a point to the grand total.
Number of leads held by the vanquished team: For every lead the vanquished team managed to get, subtract three points from the grand total. There can be more than one in a single game.
Percentage of World Series during which the vanquished were allowed to hold leads: Divide the number of innings in which the vanquished team was ahead by the total number of innings in the World Series. Multiply that number by 100 and subtract it from the grand total.
Percentage of World Series during which the vanquished were allowed to remain tied: Divide the number of innings in which the score was tied by the total number of innings in the World Series. Multiply that number by 50 and subtract it from the grand total.
Number of leads the vanquished team was allowed to erase either by tying or going ahead: Multiply by two and subtract from the grand total.
Number of shutouts: For every shutout victory in the Series, add three points to the Grand Total.
So, how did the just-completed fair show compared to the other sweeps?
With a Sweep-O-Meter reading of 91.4, it was kind of middle of the pack, to be honest. The two shutouts helped, but allowing the Tigers off the mat in Game 4 detracted a great deal. By coming back twice in that last game and taking a lead for the first time in the Series, the Tigers avoided one of the more humiliating defeats in World Series history. Instead, that honor belongs to these teams:
1989 - A's over Giants (Sweep-O-Meter reading: 116.2)
The Giants never held a lead and were only tied with the A's for two innings. They did manage to erase one deficit but were outscored 32-14, the second-most runs allowed in a sweep. While San Francisco's 14 runs is tied for second-most among the swept behind the 1932 Cubs, their failure to ever take control or pull even makes this Series especially lopsided.
2004 - Red Sox over Cardinals (111.6)
Why does this Series rate so high? Because the Red Sox broke out on top in the first inning of each and every game and never allowed the Cardinals to have a lead. In Game 1, however, they let St. Louis draw even after taking a 7-2 lead before prevailing 11-9. That means the Red Sox led in all but one inning of the Series.
2007 - Red Sox over Rockies (109.8)
For the second time in four years, Boston thoroughly dominated the Series. The difference between this and the '04 contest was that the Rockies managed to have one lead. It came in Game 2 and lasted for three innings.
1966 - Orioles over Dodgers (104.7)
The Dodgers famously scored their last run in the third inning of Game 1. Their two-run total is the lowest in Series history. What holds this Series back on the Sweep-O-Meter is that Claude Osteen and Don Drysdale held the O's to only a single score in each of the final two games, limiting the overall run differential.
1964 - Dodgers over Yankees (101.4)
For the first time in World Series history, one of the teams went through play without ever holding a lead. Series MVP Sandy Koufax surrendered three of the Yankees' four runs. Had the Dodgers scored more, this one would rate higher.
These were the least-dominating sweeps:
2005 - White Sox over Astros (62.6)
Houston fans can take heart in the fact that their team put up the most spirited fight among swept teams. The Astros held the lead on three separate occasions, were tied with Chicago for 16 innings and erased five White Sox leads. Why, it's almost as if they'd taken it to seven games!
1914 - Braves over Athletics (69.3)
Boston outscored Philadelphia by the same count as San Francisco just did to Detroit: 16-6. The big difference is that the A's and Braves were tied for half the Series and the Mackmen held three separate leads.
1922 - Giants over Yankees (73.8)
Only the 1999 Braves (against the Yankees) held the lead for longer than the Yankees did in this Series; they had four separate leads totaling eight innings. It can be argued at that Series (as well as 1907, which was a much harsher sweep) should not count as sweeps at all because each contained a tie. The stats for the tie games (Game 1 in 1907 and Game 2 in 1922) were not counted in this study. So, if you would prefer it, we can subtract another 10 points from their score which, in this case, would make the 1922 Series the second-toughest sweep. Or we can chuck them off the list. After all, we're making up the rules here.
The Sweep-O-Meter readings:
116.2: A's over Giants, 1989
111.6: Red Sox over Cardinals, 2004
109.8: Red Sox over Rockies, 2007
104.7: Orioles over Dodgers, 1966
101.4: Dodgers over Yankees, 1963
97.3: Reds over Yankees, 1976
95.4: Cubs over Tigers, 1907 (contains tie)
92.6: Yankees over Cubs, 1932
91.5: Yankees over Cardinals, 1928
91.4: Giants over Tigers, 2012
91.1: Giants over Indians, 1954
87.5: Reds over A's, 1990
85.3: Yankees over Cubs, 1938
85.1: Yankees over Phillies, 1950
84.1: Yankees over Braves, 1999
83.0: Yankees over Padres, 1998
82.7: Yankees over Pirates, 1927
75.0: Yankees over Reds, 1939
73.8: Giants over Yankees, 1922
69.3: Braves over A's, 1914
62.6: White Sox over Astros, 2005