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What makes a successful season for a team?


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I was thinking about how that question may change depending on perspective.  First, I am not addressing next year specifically, but just generally.  There are 30 team in MLB.  Only one wins the World Series.  Two teams win their respective league.  Six teams win their divisions.  12 teams make the playoffs. Most fans look at anything less than a World Series win as success.  However, I remember after the second half of the 90's being terrible team each year, when we finally won the division we thought that was success. 

Then, after having many years of winning division, but not winning a series, and now on a run of now winning a playoff game, we felt like our season was a failure.  Then we had our run of 100 loss seasons, only to again make the playoffs and people were happy again, despite not winning a playoff game.  So is it a matter of meeting or exceeding expectations that makes success?  

It seems to me, if a team is considered rebuilding, if they compete for a playoff spot, like Baltimore last year, they were expected to be terrible, but competed for a playoff off spot late in the year.  Was that success?  They failed to make the playoffs, but did better than many expected.  If they repeat the same this season, will people feel the same, or will they say it was a failure? Clearly if there is regression that is a failure, similar to Detroit did last year. 

What if a team wins more games than the year prior, but their competition did even better and team misses the playoffs?  Did they fail?  That is less likely to happen these days, with all the wild card teams, but it could.  For teams like the Dodgers, and Yankees, who are expected to make playoffs each year, is it WS or bust?  What about teams that do not make the playoffs most years, should they also see only a WS as a successful season? 

The next time the Twins make the playoffs, should we be happy with just winning a game, as it has been forever since that happened?  Some teams have never won a WS in their whole history.  Have they ever had a successful season? 

Personally, I think it is a matter of perspective.  If you are meeting and exceeding expectations, then you are being relatively successful.  If you are not expected to make playoffs, which is much easier to do now, it was more of a feat a few years ago, then you had a good season.  Even the better team loses a series all the time in baseball.  However, if you are expected to make playoffs each year, then you need to advance and at some point win it all.  I also think it should be over a span of years you look at.  If you win only 1 WS over a few years after having multi times being in playoffs, that should still be successful, but looking back at Twins in the 2000s, that was not successful, even as it may have started out that way, but we never built on that and never even advanced to WS.  

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