This project came about after I asked Fantasy Expert Scott Cullen a simple question back in January about the math he employs to do his rankings.
I wanted to know if he could use the formulas to determine if the 1992 Blue Jays would win a seven game series with the 1993 team. He said "sure" and this all began.
When Scott began crunching the numbers, I was certain the result would be a win, maybe not a convincing win, but a win for the 1992 team. I have contended, pretty much from the time the ball Joe Carter hit off Mitch Williams landed in October of 1993, that the 1992 team was better. When Scott told me his findings gave the 1993 team the advantage it was a shock. I have learned to trust Scott's methods, we have worked together for a while and he is usually right... but not this time.
It has been a few years, but I still have my "Why 1992 Was Better" speech pretty much down. Countless arguments with pals sharpened my case back in the day, although a few of them are on the record as wanting to take Christian Laettner over Shaq with the top pick in the 1992 NBA Draft so maybe I didn't have to work that hard convincing them.
Anyway, my reasoning went like this, the 1992 team was superior on paper because of pitching. Simple right, pitching and defence win championships and that team could do both. The overall depth of the pitching staff was the big advantage. When the playoffs began, the starting five was David Cone, Jack Morris, Juan Guzman, Jimmy Key and Todd Stottlemyre.
Key, one of the top left-handers in baseball, was the fourth starter. Despite a bit of a lesser role, Key pitched well in the playoffs and was brilliant against the Braves in the World Series, beating Tom Glavine in a classic duel in Game 4 (Key - 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K | Glavine - 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K). When Key wasn't starting, he was a factor out of the bullpen.
While the starting staff was deep, the real weapon the squad had was on the back end of the bullpen. The 1992 Blue Jays had the valuable ability to shorten games, at times to six innings, thanks to the one-two punch of Duane Ward and Tom Henke.
It has been a proven method for success in the postseason; a dominant set-up man/closer combo is tough to beat. The 2002 Angels had it with Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival, 1996 Yankees had it in Mariano Rivera and John Wettland and the 1992 Jays had it with Ward and Henke.
If Ward pitched the seventh and eighth and Henke took the mound in the ninth, the Jays could potentially hold the opposition off the board over the last nine outs.
"It was great, teams would look at us from the other side and say we got a seven inning ballgame here. Because if they weren't ahead by seven innings, if we had a one run lead, or even tied or ahead by two they knew they had no chance." manager Cito Gaston told TSN in March.
I had this discussion with Scott and he pointed out that over a seven game series, Ward would not be pitching 14 innings. He's right, no question, but Ward could potentially throw six, seven or maybe even eight.
They did not have the firepower of the 1993 squad, but the 1992 team did score 780 runs and hit 163 homers. They could put runs on the board.
I consider Pat Gillick's opinion that the 1992 team was the superior club to be proof positive in the case. The veteran GM has three World Series rings and his record over his 26 seasons is 2,276-1,993. His clubs have only had seven losing years in that span (Toronto 1978, '79, '80, '81, '82, '94 and Baltimore '98). If anyone knows winning teams it would be him.
The back end of the bullpen, starting staff depth and overall balance to the 1992 World Series Champions gives them the edge, not a distinct one, but an edge none-the-less.