College World Series Runner-Up

With Mississippi State baseball ending the season as the College World Series national champion runner-up, I thought it might be interesting to see what are their chances, statically, of eventually winning the national championship under the guidance of John Cohen.

Warning: If you get confused by a lot of numbers, you may want to skip this opinion piece.

Just for the sake of not having to deal with too much data and confusing you too much, I'll only go back 25 years to 1989.

Of the College World Series baseball runner-ups from 1989 to 2013, ten of the twenty-five have eventually gone on to win the national championship. That's means, based on historical data, there is a 40% chance of it happening for MSU.

Think about that - MSU now has a 40% chance of eventually winning a national championship in baseball.

If you don't care about who those runner-ups were and when they won their national championships, you can skip the next section and go directly to the next one.

The first team to go from runner-up to national champion during that 25-year period was Texas, who was runner-up in 1989 and then won the national championship in 2002, 13 years later. They won another national championship three years later in 2005.

Cal State Fullerton was the next runner-up to win the whole thing, losing to Pepperdine in 1992, then winning the national championship in 1995, three years later. They added a second championship ring in 2010.

Southern Cal did the same thing as Cal State Fullerton, going from a runner-up to a national champ in 3 years (1995 to 1998).

Miami was the next runner-up who eventually won a national championship. Like the two previous runner-ups, it took them three years to earn it. They added a second national championship two years later.

From 1997 to 2001 none of the runner-ups have gone on to win a national championship. They include the likes of Alabama, Arizona State, Florida State, and Stanford (twice). They are all still looking to replace their runner-up trophy with the national championship trophy.

In 2002 South Carolina burst onto the College World Series scene as a runner-up, then won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011, 8 and 9 years after being runner-ups.

Two years later, in 2004, Texas was the runner-up. The following year they won it all.

Once again, there was a drought of runner-ups not winning a national championship from 2005 through 2009. Florida, North Carolina (twice), Georgia and Texas ended up being the bridesmaid but not the bride since then.

UCLA was runner-up in 2010, then won the entire thing in 2013, defeating Mississippi State.

In 2011 and 2012 Florida and South Carolina were runner-ups. Both are waiting to win a national championship since bringing home that runner-up trophy.

Sadly, as we all know, Mississippi State was the runner-up in 2013. But happily, we also now know there is a 40% chance MSU will eventually win that coveted national championship trophy.

Now that we know 40% of the runner-ups have eventually gone on to win a national championship, the next question is long will it likely take for MSU to win that elusive price?

Of the 10 runner-ups who won national championships, one won it in 1 year, four won it in 3 years, one in 5 years, one in 8 years, one in 9 years, one in 12 years and one in 13 years.

Based on those stats, there is a 20% chance of it happening within 3 years and 24% chance within 5 years. The chances get much lower after 5 years.

We now know the percentages of MSU eventually winning a national championship and how many years it might take. But what about the question of how often will MSU appear in the College World Series now that they have been a runner-up? Does that mean it becomes more likely they participate in the College World Series more often than they have in the past? The answer, based on historical data, is yes, they should appear in the CWS more often but not by much?

There is an 80% chance that the runner-up will appear in the College World Series at least 4 times during the 25 years following their runner-up appearance, which means MSU should appear in the CWS at least once every six years.

The most MSU has appeared in the CWS during any 25 year period in their entire history is 5 times, and they have done that twice.

Ok, you say that's fine and good but it's nothing that MSU hasn't done in the past. What about the next 10 years? How many times can we expect MSU to be in the CWS during the next ten years?

In the case of 10 years, you can only use the first 15 years of runner-ups, from 1989 to 2003, because all the others haven't gone through a ten year cycle yet.

Of those 15 runner-ups, 10 have appeared in 3 or more CWS during the following ten years. To take it a step farther, 6 of the 15 have appeared in 4 or more of the next 10. The team with the most CWS appearances the following ten years after being the runner-up was Miami with 8 in 10 years following their 1996 runner-up appearance.

If you look at MSU's history, the best that they have done is three CWS appearances in ten years, and they did that three different times. With them being a national runner-up, there is now a 40% chance they will do better than that.

And one final question, what are the chances that MSU will make it to the CWS next year? Based on historical data of the past 25 runner-ups, 10 of the 25 have appeared in the following CWS, a 40% chance.

Ok, so that doesn't sound as good as you hoped. But there is good news in the silver lining because 8 of the past 14 runner-ups have gone on to earn a spot in the next CWS. That's a 57% chance of it happening for next year's Bulldog team.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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