MLB Postseason Talk

Baseball Analysis with SI.com's Tim Marchman

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  • 11:45 AM ET  11.04
Chase-utley-1104
Chase Utley has blasted five home runs in five World Series
games, much to the delight of the Phillie Phanatic.
Nick Laham/Getty Images

By Sky Andrecheck, HardballTimes.com

Chase Utley has put on a massive display of power in the first five games of the World Series.  On Monday, he tied Reggie Jackson’s record for home runs in a single World Series with five bombs.  While Utley isn’t being called Mr. October yet, how does Utley’s feat compare with the legendary Jackson’s?

While they each hit five homers, Utley performed his feat in just five games and 21 plate appearances, while Jackson homered five times in six games and 23 plate appearances.  By that measure, it would seem that Utley's performance was slightly more impressive.

However, 2009 is much more power-friendly than 1977 was. Additionally, the '77 Dodgers pitching staff was superior to the '09 Yankees staff. The '09 Yankees gave up a dinger in 2.9 percent of all plate appearances, while the ’77 Dodgers gave up a long ball just 1.9% percent of the time.

If you use these home run rates, the probability of an average player hitting at least five homers in 21 plate appearances against the 2009 Yankees is just 0.0028 percent.  In other words, there’s only a 1 in 3,500 chance of doing so.  How does this compare to Jackson’s feat?  Because of the depressed home run era in which he played and the excellent Dodger pitching staff he faced, Mr. October earns his nickname.  The odds of hitting at least five home runs in the 1977 World Series were nearly five times as great, at 16,000 to 1.  So, while Utley may have matched Jackson’s World Series record, his feat was significantly easier.

Going into hypotheticals, what happens if Utley gets another eight plate appearances and jacks another homer to give him a record six World Series home runs?  Will his feat then be more impressive than Jackson’s?  In fact, no. The odds of hitting six homers in 29 plate appearances against the 2009 Yankees are about one in 7,000, meaning that Reggie’s accomplishment was still twice as tough. To match Mr. October’s feat in terms of difficulty, Chase would have to hit seven homers, in which case the odds of the accomplishment are one in 65,000. I’d love to see him get a chance to do it.

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