Explaining The Suffering Index


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ASSOCIATED PRESS/JOHN MINCHILLO



In the latest Sully Baseball video, I talked about my new stat, The Suffering Index.

It is designed to quantify fan suffering among baseball fans. I wanted to put a number to a fan base’s suffering. When I came up with the formula, I did not know what order the fan bases would fall into in terms of least suffering to most suffering. But the final results pretty much lined up with what I would have expected.

The formula is this.

(Number of Years Since a Team’s Last World Series Title)
+ (Number of Years Since a Team’s Last Pennant ÷ 4)
+ (Number of Years Since the World Series Title BEFORE the Last one ÷ 8)
+ (Number of Years Since a Team’s Last Post Season Appearance ÷ 16)
+ (Number of Deciding or One Game Playoffs LOST since last World Series title x 10)
– (Number of Deciding or One Game Playoffs WON since last World Series title)
= THE SUFFERING INDEX TOTAL

Here is my thought process behind the formula.

Number of Years Since a Team’s Last World Series Title

This is clearly the biggest and most important factor. We just entire franchises by this. As a Red Sox fan sitting in Yankee Stadium during the Joe Torre years, I heard my share of “19-18 clap clap clap clap clap clap” chants. This remains the big number. The purpose of the Suffering Index is to beyond simply this one number.

Keep in mind, if a team has never won the World Series, I use the year the team first played as the number. For example, the Astros have never won the World Series, so I use the first year of their existence, 1962, as the demarkation.

Number of Years Since a Team’s Last Pennant ÷ 4

If a team has been waiting a long time for a pennant, that should add to the misery of a fan base. The Cubs pennant was their first since 1945. Orioles and Dodgers fans waiting to even play in a World Series since the 1980’s increase their misery index. So do Pirate fans still grasping at the We Are Family Pirates of 1979.

But other teams get some relief, like the Mets, Rangers, Tigers and Indians who have suffering fans but at least have participated in the World Series and have recent memories of pennants clinched.

I divided it by four to make sure a pennant does not weigh as much as a title.

(Number of Years Since the World Series Title BEFORE the Last one ÷ 8)

The purpose of this element of the formula is to take into account teams that have had a lot of recent success. The Giants, for example, have 3 World Series titles in this decade. So their 2014 title means their fans have not been waiting long. The 2012 title shows those same fans have had a lot to cheer for recently.

Conversely, if a team has a recent title but the championship BEFORE that was a long time coming, that will hurt their score. Case in point? The Chicago Cubs, who have 1 year since the most recent title and 109 years since the previous one.

It is divided by 8 to not have it count as much as last World Series or pennants.

(Number of Years Since a Team’s Last Post Season Appearance ÷ 16)

If a team has trouble even making the playoffs, that should certainly add to the fan base’s misery. Teams like the Mariners and Marlins have been shut out of October for over a decade.

Meanwhile some of the most suffering fan bases, including the Indians, Astros, Pirates and A’s, have been in the playoffs over the last 3 seasons. So making it to October does not remove suffering, but should count for something.

Again, dividing it by 16 weighs it properly. The euphoria for a Wild Card Game appearance should not have the strength of a pennant or title.

Number of Deciding or One Game Playoffs LOST since last World Series title x 10

Besides losing a title, nothing increases misery like specific chances lost. It is important to remember that these are the deciding games AFTER their last World Series title. As a Red Sox fan, I can say that the World Series loss to the Mets and the Aaron Boone game were devastating. But they were wiped out with 2004. Likewise, the Cubs failures to the Padres in 1984 and the Marlins in 2003 no longer factor in Cubs misery.

Meanwhile the 2 Game 7 losses to the Braves and the pair of Wild Card losses all still weigh on a Pirate fans’ mind. So do the many Game 5 Division Series losses by Oakland and Atlanta since their last titles (in 1989 and 1995 respectively.)

One game playoffs, Wild Card Games, Division Series Game 5’s and World Series Game 7’s lost since a team’s last World Series title all count here and can compound quickly.

Because these games weigh so heavily in the minds of fans, this number is multiplied by 10.

Number of Deciding or One Game Playoffs WON since last World Series title

Now some teams have had memorable post season victories in years where they came up short in the World Series. The aforementioned Braves winning Game 7’s against the Pirates and Cardinals come to mind. So do the Red Sox having dramatic playoff wins in 1986, 1999 and 2003 but coming up short for the main prize.

These do not have the same weight emotionally as the Do or Die Games LOST since a title, but they should be factored in as at least positive memories for fans. The Giants, whose recent years have been an embarrassment of riches, include a Wild Card Game victory in 2016.

No multiplying or diving this number. It weighs as 1/10th the value of a Game 7 loss emotionally.

As the formula states, add every number save for the Deciding Games won, which you subtract from the total.

That will equal The Suffering Index number.

I run down the teams final numbers and some thoughts in the video. But from Most to Least, here are the final results for the 30 Franchises.

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As I explained the video, the gap between 1908 and now is the only thing that kept the Cubs from having the lowest score.

Also as I discussed in the video, if I include the entire history of Washington baseball, including the two Senators franchises, and not just the Nationals who moved to Washington in 2005, then Washington fans would have the biggest Suffering Index total, even over Indians fans.

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Hopefully this makes sense and remember, these numbers will all change once the World Series is over. Whether it will be a dramatic change like the Cubs title last year or a mundane change like a fourth Giants title remains to be seen.

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