Not sure what the comparison is. The Braves lost a lot in the postseason, sure, but they played in many World Series. Unlike the Twins and A's, the Braves took a lot of series to the last out of the 7th game.
Twins and A's are One and Done Central.
Nate Silver did a study of this and found just 3 factors which had predictive value for making the WS, assuming you make the playoffs:
- A power pitching staff, as measured by normalized strikeout rate.
- A good closer, as measured by WXRL.
- A good defense, as measured by FRAA.
We can cite anecdotes supporting any argument we want, but people have tried to tease this out. You can give yourself a slight edge above & beyond what your won/loss record would suggest your chances are, but only a slight one.
Bottom line is your chances of making the WS if you don't make the playoffs is zero. If you can build and sustain a playoff caliber team, then you can start worrying about tweaking the composition of that team to better your odds in the playoffs. But you have to get there first.
Yes, the goal is to win championships. But worrying about tweaking the composition of your team to up your WS odds slightly before you even have a playoff caliber team is like debating what color to paint your house before you have a blueprint.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.
Yes, I get the whole playoff randomness thing. But the Twins are 3-16 in the playoffs in the last 18 years. That's not being on the bad side of the odds of winning a playoff series.
Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David
Sure, 3-16 is horrible. But that doesn't necessarily make your specific explanation any more accurate.
What are the odds of a playoff caliber team going 3-16 against equal or better competition? Good teams have bad stretches, bad stretches of 20 games even, especially against very good competition. A poor W-L is one thing. Naming a specific cause supported only by anecdote is another thing entirely, regardless of how much sense the story makes. I'm sure I could look at their team and come up with another logical explanation.
I'm not sure that you (and most people for that matter) appreciate how randomness looks. Even given a completely random sample, a few observations are going to appear to result from something other than luck.
Let's agree that having 2 great starters makes you more likely to advance in the playoffs. The question becomes: how much of an advantage is it? Is it worth chasing a 2 ace model even if it decreases your chances of making the playoffs in the first place? What if it only means decreasing your chances of making the playoffs in the future? These aren't easy answers. Given the choice, give me the playoff team with 2 aces. But I'm going to be MUCH more focused on building an organization that is capable of sustaining 85+ wins before I'm going to chase an ace at any cost.
There's a reason the Twins haven't gone the 2 ace model. It's nearly impossible to do on a mid-level (or less) budget. The Diamondbacks just about destroyed their franchise going that route. It worked, but they've averaged 74 wins a season since Schilling left, made one decent run in the Brandon Webb era and aren't anywhere close to being a playoff caliber team today -- largely because they have next to no organizational depth.
Again, my point remains, 2 aces are better than 1. But it's an irrelevant detail if you aren't in the playoffs to begin with. Trying to build a specific type of team instead of just one that wins a lot is part of the reason this franchise has stunk for the last decade.
There are some teams that are built for the playoffs and some that are not. It is not about regular season winning percentage, it's not just about what WMR talks about, deep starting pitching. It's more about having a dominant bullpen and closer.
You can pick which teams will go deep in the playoffs by looking at their bullpen. It's what killed the Braves for so many years. So many stories of teams struggling in the playoffs, then they get strong pen, and then viola, they make the Series. If you can turn a game into a 6 or 7 inning affair, you stand a great chance of winning a 5 or 7 game series.
Just look at the teams that made the Series over the last 20 years, that is what unites them all. Not TOR pitching, but a dominant pen. With a dominant pen, teams have been able to toss the 25% theory out the window and make the World Series more often. And likewise, teams with an average pen (maybe a good closer but nothing else) never make it past the first or second round.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein