Sports Reference Blog

Was the 2012 LCS Round the Most Boring Ever?

Posted by admin on October 23, 2012

Probably yes.

If we use in-game leverage index (LI) to measure the amount of tension in each plate appearance, this was the least tense LCS round in LCS history. Leverage is centered at 1.00 with above 1.00 meaning high leverage (each PA has more potential impact on the game) and below 1.0 indicates below average leverage.

Five lowest average LI values.

| year_game | games | AvgLev   | AvgDiff | LeadChngPerGame |
|      2012 |    11 | 0.826291 |  2.3651 |             1.5 |
|      1974 |     8 | 0.830579 |  2.3295 |             1.5 |
|      1982 |     8 | 0.847806 |  2.2898 |             2.0 |
|      1992 |    13 | 0.865047 |  2.8925 |             2.3 |
|      1978 |     8 | 0.909473 |  2.0511 |             3.3 |

AvgDiff is the average score differential at each PA and LeadChngPerGame are plays in which the lead changed or the game became tied.

The highest leverage LCS's were in 1980 thanks to the crazy 1980 NLCS with four extra inning games in a best of five. (Trivia: in the decisive Game 3 of the ALCS the Royals' closer entered in the 6th inning and the Yankees' in the 7th.)

| year_game | games | AvgLev   | AvgDiff | LeadChngPerGame |
|      1980 |     8 | 1.387091 |  0.8576 |             3.9 |
|      1999 |    11 | 1.305528 |  1.6519 |             3.4 |
|      1995 |    10 | 1.191627 |  1.4218 |             2.1 |
|      1990 |    10 | 1.182584 |  1.1794 |             3.0 |
|      2009 |    11 | 1.180760 |  1.9648 |             2.8 |

The DET-NYY ALCS had plenty of tense moments and was slightly above average in leverage, but the NLCS was as boring as a 7-game series could be with the lowest leverage and the second fewest lead changes per game of any LCS at 1.4 per game.

| year_game | series | games | AvgLev   | AvgDiff | LeadChngPerGame |
|      2012 | NLCS   |     7 | 0.673890 |  2.8767 |             1.4 |
|      1974 | NLCS   |     4 | 0.711962 |  3.2690 |             1.5 |
|      2011 | NLCS   |     6 | 0.745095 |  2.7642 |             1.8 |
|      1992 | NLCS   |     7 | 0.745328 |  3.4726 |             2.3 |
|      2010 | ALCS   |     6 | 0.777280 |  2.7803 |             2.5 |

The highest leverage play of the NLCS (3.87) was in the 7th inning of game 3 when Mitchell Boggs struck out Hunter Pence for the second out with runners on 1st and 2nd and the Giants down by one. That isn't that high of a leverage as 37% of all 2012 games had a situation with higher leverage. On an average Saturday, you'll see 5-6 games with higher leverage situations than the highest leverage situation of the entire 7-game series.

If you go to all series, the 1989 World Series had the lowest average leverage at .565 and was a 4-game sweep to boot. Given what was happening off the field, that may have been for the best.

44 Responses to “Was the 2012 LCS Round the Most Boring Ever?”

  1. Brian Miracle Says:

    Pretty interesting article. I was just thinking as I watched last night that while it went a full 7 games, just as the Giants took their NLDS to a full 5, no game was too competitive (besides NLDS Game 3) or tense.
    It was no surprise to see the 1980 NLCS as the craziest. It really is greatest series that no one ever talks about.
    Is there any way you could post, or send to me, the WS with the highest/lowest leverage? Thanks.

  2. oneblankspace Says:

    The team that scored first in the NLCS went 6-1.

  3. Ray Hand Says:

    I guess the old bias kicks in and as a Giants fan, I don't like this applying the word boring to a series where a team fought back from elimination six times. Stats are fine, but when they surpass the human element in importance and the fact that there were some people on the edge of their seat, the game loses a lot that makes it special. Please allow some of us to enjoy the moment without throwing the boring word out there.

  4. Bill (Tigers fan) Says:

    Ray Hand - The anticipation of each game is the only thing that made the NLCS not boring. The games themselves were fairly one-sided. Especially the final three SF wins. 7-0 in the 3rd inning last night. I turned it off to watch the political debates

    Congratulations to the Giants, though. As they were the team on the winning side of those one-sided games.

  5. Harry Says:

    By numbers, you're right. But I also think you're quite wrong.

    You're missing the intangible of what the Cards had done in the Washington series (along with the previous post season) giving the perception that no lead was ever safe - especially given how vulnerable Zito and Cain looked in games 5 and 7, and Lohse and Cain both in Game 3.

    There were a lot of people sweating despite what should have been seen as a ridiculously safe lead last night, and there was also a lot of (irrational) hope in St. Louis.

    Add that in with the storyline of what the Giants accomplished, and it was a good series without any great games. If you cant appreciate that, then back to rotisserie league and simulations for you, since you don't appreciate what players and fans actually do.

  6. Keith Says:

    The problem with the "intangible" is that the Cardinals never really mounted a serious threat to the leads that the Giants compiled in the last three games.

    Yes, with what they did in Washington (and against Texas last year), the Cardinals did remind us that no lead is truly safe until the last out has been recorded. But they also started chipping away at Washington's lead almost immediately. The inning after the Nats went up 6-0, the Cardinals scored a run. Then they got two more the following inning, so by the end of the 5th, it was only 6-3.

    By contrast, the Cardinals scored a total of one run in Games 5, 6, 7 against San Francisco. Their two best scoring threats in Game 7 were in the top of the 2nd inning when it was still only 1-0 Giants, and then in the top of the 9th when it was 9-0. Runners on second and third is a scoring threat, but not a particularly dangerous one when you need two grand slams just to get the tying run to the plate, and you have only one out to get it.

    Personally, I thought it was a great series. But I'm measuring by only one stat - games won by the Giants. They're my team.

  7. Keith Says:

    Though I do share the objection to use of the word "boring." At some point, that is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?

  8. Earl Says:

    Wow, I guess it's all subjective. I found all of the NL postseason matchups to be some of the most exciting in memory: Come from behind victories (Cardinals battling through a 0-6 deficit), stellar pitching performances (Verlander, Zito, etc.), and the Giants making record comebacks after trailing in the series vs. the Reds and Cards. The AL postseason series between Detroit and Oakland was phenomenal, as was the Yankee, Oriole matchup. The only lackluster series, IMO was the Yankee/Tiger series, which was a sweep. Best postseason in recent memory, and I suspect more excitement around the corner with the Giants and Tigers.

  9. Tim Says:

    I guess it wasn't boring if you're a Tigers or Giants fan. I'm a Yankees fan. Sucky would be a better word to describe it. (PS - I can't believe you have a mathematically formula to determine boringness. I hope that can't be applied to people or I'm doomed)

  10. Michael Poplawski Says:

    I agree with the assessment of games having little tension, but what about having a look at series leverage?

    The NL LCS had a team facing elimination four times, the AL LCS, one, for a total of five. I presume there are plenty of LCS rounds where a couple times essentially cruised to victory, like in 2002. The games may have been closer, but only one team was facing elimination for one game.

    If the probability of winning a series were measured here, not just of individual games, there would be different results, possibly supporting our ideas of what makes series notable. Definitely series that are tied 2-2 will have at least two games of high-leverage situations, if not three.

  11. scott-53 Says:

    The Giants have survied 6 elimanation games so far out of 8 games played. That fact alone makes the tension & excitement level increase. Didn't follow along to close but based on results have to agree with #8 (Earl)

  12. scott-53 Says:

    @-11 Oops!! Giants have survived 6 elimination games out of 12 playoff games played (7-5). 6-0 in elimination games.

  13. scott-53 Says:

    RIght now at Live in game boxscore. Giants 1-0 top of the second inning.

  14. scott-53 Says:

    Not looking to good for the favorite (Tigers in 5 games). Looking much better for the longshot (Giants in 4 games). Right now Giants 4-0 bottom of the 4th inning. Verlander already past 85 pitches.

  15. Rich Says:

    The Giants fans here are really putting their biased hats on.

    The series was boring. Sorry if that somehow offends you, but it's true. Was it neat for the Giants and their fans that they came back down 3-1? Of course. Was it exciting? No, not really. As has already been pointed out, the final three games got out of hand pretty quickly.

    The 5th game was tense for 3 innings, then the Giants went up 4-0 in the 4th. The Cardinals never scored a run.

    Game 6 was 5-0 after 2.
    Game 7 was 7-0 after 3.

    There's nothing about that that isn't boring.

  16. scott-53 Says:

    @15- .673890 average leverage record might not ever be broken. Boring to watch all 63 innings. But exciting for morning after boxscore only watchers.

  17. Jeffster Says:

    Neither series was boring to me. I think it's very silly to judge boredom by statistics.

  18. Rich Says:

    It's not by statistics though. It's facts.

    Games 5-7 were OVER by the 4th, 2nd, and 3rd inning. I observed that by watching the game.

  19. pauley67 Says:

    Barry Zito throwing seven shutout innings to keep his team alive shouldn't be classified as boring, no matter what the score was. I suppose using this calculation game 1 of the 2010 NLDS was pretty boring as well, considering that Cincinnati never mounted a threat since no one was ever on base. One of the most exciting games I ever watched was game 7 of the 1985 World Series- a 10-0 shutout, yet a game with all sorts of carry over tension, explosions, ejections, team implosions, and Bret Saberhagen becoming a star (and I am nowhere near being a Royals fan.) By these numbers, game 1 of this years WS was probably pretty boring because it doesn't take into account a guy hitting 3 home runs in a game, 2 off the best pitcher in baseball. If you find that boring, you don't really like baseball very much.

  20. SocraticGadfly Says:

    As a Cards fan, by the end of Game 6, NLCS, I was thinking, this smells a lot like the 1985 WS. Substitute Pence's funky hit for Don Denkinger carry-over, and the parallel was complete.

  21. scott-53 Says:

    @19-- Even though the Giants did not need runs 5-6-7-8. The fans at the game sure did seem glad to get them. Surely there were some Tiger fans at the game.

  22. pauley67 Says:

    @20- just no Joaquin Andujar to really make things lively!

  23. Simon Says:

    Any chance we could see the same list for the 2012 regular season games -- ie most exciting games by average leverage index?

  24. Biff Says:


    Sure games 5-7 were "over", but that has as much to do with hindsight as anything. The Cardinals in the last 2 years playoffs had made enough comebacks to win when those games were presumed "over". Game 2 in the 2011 LDS against the Phillies and game 5 of the 2012 LDS against the Nationals (both on the road) are comparable examples. With that in mind, I can't see how anyone watching could have felt that the Giants had games 5-7 wrapped up by the 4th inning.

    I rarely get bored by 7 game series, especially when most people would have thought the Cards had their ticket punched to the WS after the 4th game. Had the Cards won NLCS in 5, wouldn't it have been more boring that what actually happened?

  25. Biff Says:

    Correction. I never get bored by 7 game series.

  26. scott-53 Says:

    Tigers can only win in 6 games or 7 games .Still 4 options left for the Giants. Giants in 4-5-6 or 7 games.

  27. scott-53 Says:

    @1-- I'd like to see (LI) since wildcard was added in 1995, but still a novice when it comes to using the tools at this site.

  28. Eeepers Says:

    Where does the 2001 WS rank on this list?

  29. TADontAsk Says:

    To argue post #15, we think of game 5 (4-0 in the 4th) and game 6 (5-0 in the 2nd) as boring in retrospect, because we know that the Cardinals never mounted any kind of comeback. But I think that at the time, with well more than half the game to be played and the Cardinals having come back before, I personally didn't find the games boring.

  30. Al Dimond Says:

    If you're going to talk about boring series, shouldn't we be looking at series-winning percentage and basing the LI on that? It would be interesting to see how a 4-game sweep consisting of nailbiters compared to a 7-game series of blowouts by that metric.

  31. Rich Says:

    Literally NOTHING like any of that happened in this series though. Sometimes games are boring. I don't know why everyone is getting offended at that idea.

    Going up by a lot of runs early is not hindsight. It's just law of averages. Sure, the Cards COULD have come back. But they would need the bases loaded to just make it kinda interesting/possible. Instead they were pretty much shut down. Game 2 of the NLDS they weren't down by that much.

    @29 I don't. I watched the games live. I WAS bored. There's nothing retrospective about it. I thought maybe Game 7 would be exciting but then the Giants got that huge early lead and it just took any tension out of it for me.

  32. mark szymcik Says:

    Rich, You were bored, others weren't. Can you at least accept the fact that is a matter of perception? Or are always bored by blowouts even if there is a late inning comeback?

  33. Scott-53 Says:

    Bottom of the 6th. Game 3. San Francisco 2-0 over Detroit. It's starting to look like the Yankees knew something. They have a very good record against the Giants in the World Series.

  34. Scott-53 Says:

    The last time the Yankees lost to the Giants in the World Series was 1922. Ninety years ago.

  35. Andrew Says:

    This is kind of ridiculous. Actually, this is precisely the sort of thing that people who don't understand sabermetrics and other types of statistical analysis always accuse "stat-heads" of doing: using mathematical formulae to determine exactly how enjoyable a sporting event was, rather than just enjoying the event.

    Whether or not something is "boring" is totally qualitative. Something that one person thinks is boring might be captivating to another person. For example: I think that watching golf is possibly the most boring activity a human being can engage in. There are numerous other people who take the exact opposite view. That's OK. Neither camp is right or wrong. There are no numbers or "facts" that have any bearing on a judgement call like that.

  36. Scott-53 Says:

    Based on series results only. 2007 would rank as a more boring overall postseason. There were 5 series sweeps.

  37. Scott-53 Says:

    2012 only had 2 series sweeps. Tigers swept the Yankees 4-0. Then the Giants swept the Tigers 4-0. There have been a total of 7 series played each year since the wildcard teams were added in 1995.

  38. Jeffster Says:

    Well said, Andrew. (Comment 35) That's what I meant was silly when I commented earlier. Trying to use a "leverage index" to determine boredom is pretty ridiculous. I'm fairly sure Giants fans weren't bored at all in their last 7 postseason games!

  39. Scott-53 Says:

    @38---How about television ratings?? This will most likely be the lowest rated televised World Series ever. Less than 14 million viewers per game. At least 3 World Series averaged over 40 million viewers from 1975 to 1980 according to (

  40. Scott-53 Says:

    @39 Correction : Television Ratings

    44.27 million viewers 1978 for Yankees/Dodgers
    42.30 million viewers 1980 for Phillies /Royals
    41.37 million viewers 1981 for Dodgers/Yankees

    Source (

  41. Rich Says:

    @ 32

    Yes, but I'm not the one struggling with it. The original blog post was about how, by the numbers, it was a boring series. Then people commented basically saying "not uh!" and I countered with it being boring even by the eye test.

    Obviously if I was a fan of the Cardinals or Giants, I would not find it boring at all. My point was I don't see how it could be anything else to someone not a fan of those two (or perhaps not a fan of one of their top rivals)

  42. Scott-53 Says:

    @41---The final results are in. Only 12.7 million average viewers for the2012 World Series. The lowest national television audience since at least the 1960's. The farthest back I've see Is 1968.

  43. Scott-53 Says:

    2012 was the first World Series between the NL West and the AL Central.

  44. Scott-53 Says:

    Tonight would have been game 6 in San Francisco. Should have been game 7 IMO. November World Series games????