John Smoltz and the 1995 World Series From WhatIfSports.com image

Smoltz's Hall of Fame nod has us asking what-if?

What-if Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz pitched for the Tribe in '95 World Series

WhatIfSports.com
January 8, 2015

John Smoltz needed 75 percent, he received 82.9.

Even when elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Smoltzie over-delivered. The former pitcher joins Atlanta Braves mound-mates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the Hall. The trio's inclusion in the Hall of Fame also recalls moments of nostalgia and nightmares for the 1995 Cleveland Indians and their fans. Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz started the first three games of the 1995 World Series - the Indians first since 1954 - which the Braves ultimately won in six games.

At WhatIfSports, we thought it would be a fun exercise to revisit the seven-game series. Not to pour salt in any remaining wounds of Tribe fans, but to increase the seven-game sample size by 51 series and then flip the four-man starting rotations and simulate the series 51 times again.

That's right, using our MLB Dream Team feature, we simulated the 1995 World Series with Maddux (29 years old), Glavine (29), Smoltz (28), and Steve Avery (25) pitching for the Indians, while Orel Hershiser (36), Dennis Martinez (41), Charles Nagy (28), and Ken Hill (29) took the bump for the Braves. Both bullpens remained the same.

How does our MLB simulation engine work?

Our MLB simulation engine uses the statistical DNA of each team. We remove the bias of personal opinion and let the stats tell the story and generate the simulation projections.

As a refresher, in case you haven't brushed up on your 1995 Indians and Braves team stats, the Tribe's offense led MLB in runs scored (840), hits (1461), homers (207, ahead of COL), RBI (803), and BA / OBP / SLG triple slash (.291 / .361 / .491). Their pitching staff led in Wins (100) and Saves (50). Led by Cy Young Award winner Maddux (19-2, 1.63 ERA), Atlanta's staff topped MLB in ERA (3.44) WHIP (1.25) and strikeouts (1087).

1995 World Series: Original Lineups and Rotation
MatchupWin %4-Games %5-Games %6-Games %7-Games %
Braves51.05.95.915.723.5
Indians49.09.87.813.717.6
Simulate 1995 World Series: Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians
Simulation ERAs
Team ERA
Greg Maddux 2.87
Tom Glavine 5.62
John Smoltz 5.60

Despite raking at a .291 clip (AVG.) during the 51 World Series simulations, the Tribe fell to the Braves 51 percent of the time with the most common series needing seven games (41.2 percent of the simulations). As you can see in the table to the left, the Braves' Hall of Fame trio got banged around a little more than they were accustomed to during the 1995 regular season; a testament to the powerful Indians potent offense.

It's no surprise, Maddux was the most dominant hurler possessing the only starting pitcher ERA under 3.00 and averaged better than seven innings per World Series simulation start.

In the end, great pitching edged out great hitting by the slimmest of margins when the sample size was increased.

1995 World Series: Starting Pitchers Change Teams
MatchupWin %4-Games %5-Games %6-Games %7-Games %
Braves with
Indians SPs
11.82.00.02.07.8
Indians with
Braves SPs
88.219.635.323.59.8
Simulate 1995 World Series: Braves w/ Indians SPs vs. Indians w/ Braves SPs

Well, that escalated quickly! By adding the Braves' rotation to the Indians' stacked lineup and creating an MLB superpower, the Tribe crushed the Braves more than 88 percent of the time with the most common result of the Indians taking the Series in five games (35 percent of the simulations). The light-hitting Braves could only manage a .245 batting average, while their new rotation of Hershiser, Martinez, Nagy, and Hill posted an ERA north of 6.00.

What Simulation is Next?

What-if in exchange for their starting rotation, the Braves received three or four Tribe hitters to upgrade their lineup? You can make it happen and perfect your own 1995 World Series roster by using WhatIfSports.com's Dream Team feature. You can also simulate any MLB team - past or present - using our MLB simulation engine.

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Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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