Quality control

To be the best in October, you have to beat the best all summer long

Updated: October 6, 2010, 12:16 PM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine
Getty ImagesThe Phillies won it all in 2008, and they are in good position to do it again in 2010.

"My s--- doesn't work in the postseason." That's how A's GM Billy Beane once famously explained why his Moneyball tactics fail in the fall. So what does work? In attempting to predict MLB playoff winners, analysts have tried to find out which stats correlate with postseason success. But here's an easier way: Find the team that has proved it can crush weaker opponents ... then bet against it. Why? Because clubs that play well against the elite during the regular season do better in the postseason than teams that beat up on also-rans.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.