It feels like former Mariners succeed in big postseason moments shockingly often. However, I could just be a bitter fan. Maybe I only notice when former Mariners do great things, but never when they struggle.
I am going to put my assumption to the test with what I am calling the Former Player Pain Index (FPPI).
FPPI works rather simply. It is entirely based on WPA, the perfect stat for FPPI because it recognizes that a game-tying home run in the ninth alters a team's chances of winning much more than a home run in the top half of the first inning. Higher WPAs correlate to the big moments I think of in my head when I remember former Mariners in the playoffs.
Essentially, a team's FPPI is the sum of the WPAs of former players for that team. Not all WPAs are weighted equally though, because not every former player is the same. It's one thing for a player to spend one year with a team, and another for them to spend a decade. Recency counts too. The more recently the former player was a current player on a team, the more it stings to watch them succeed elsewhere. The loss is still fresh. FPPI accounts for these two factors by multiplying WPAs by a bonus factor. It is calculated simply by adding up all the seasons a player played for their former team and subtracting how many years it has been since they played for their former team.
For instance, Raul Ibanez played a total of 10 seasons with the Mariners, and it had been 3 seasons (before this one) since he played for the Mariners. Thus, his bonus factor is 7. Ibanez also played multiple seasons for the Royals, but so far in the past that they receive no bonus factor.
The standings through games one and two of the ALCS and game one of the NLCS are below. Click on the graphic to enlarge it. Some analysis follows after the jump:
There really might be something to the former Mariner experience we go through every October. Nobody came close to former Mariners over the weekend in championship series play. Ibanez's heroics were huge without a doubt (he is the main reason the Phillies and Royals also grace the top five) but it wasn't just him. Doug Fister turned in a monster start. Ichiro and Rafael Soriano came up big too, although in losing efforts for the Yankees.
The Nationals are the only team without any of their former players to appear in either championship series so far, hence their blank rating wedged right between the positive and negative FPPI ratings. It is pretty remarkable when you think about it that they are the only team without a former player to appear in either championship series.
Teams with green FPPI rankings are ones that have negative sums. In other words, their former players have decreased their current teams' chances at winning.
The Tigers have the best of both worlds, given that they are two wins away from the World Series and their former players are harming their current teams.
I don't know what it says about the Astros that they were MLB's worst team this season, and even their former players are causing harm. At least Houston isn't a farm team for others?
My goal is to update these standings at some point in the middle of the week, and then again with the final rankings at the end of both championship series. We'll see where it goes. It adds some sort of level of intrigue for the 26 teams not participating in these championship series - except for the Nationals I guess.
For now, nobody touches the wrath of former Mariners.