Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The True Story About The Importance of The Standings In June

It makes me sad to think that there are college graduates reading this who were not alive when the above season ended.

If you pay attention to the coverage of Major League Baseball, you've likely heard folks talk about how the Red Sox have the AL East wrapped up and the rest of the AL East is playing for the Wild Card. There are a couple of things that bother me about this. One of them is that in NY, people say this because secretly they believe the Sox are going to blow the lead and when they do they will use this lead as ammo that the Sox "blew the lead." This is a common sports pundit move. It makes good copy to take a such a hard-line stance about something, plus you lower the expectations of your base so that if their team makes any kind of charge, it looks good. Being a Sox fan I am all too familiar with this ploy. The other problem I have with this talk is that a 10+ game swing in the standings from June to October is not all that uncommon.

Last year on June 6th, Minnesota was back 11.5 games from Detroit. On October 1, Minnesota was up 1 on Detroit. I don't think I heard about Detroit's "collapse" that year. Also last year, Texas was up 3.5 on Oakland on June 6th. As of October 1, Texas was 13 back of the AL West leading A's. Let's just say that the headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Sports Section on October 2nd was not RANGERS DROP 16.5 GAMES IN STANDINGS BETWEEN JUNE 1st AND OCTOBER 1st. In the NL West, Arizona was leading that division by a 1.5 games on June 6th. By October 1st, they were 13 games back. And the Sox themselves dropped 11.5 games in the standings last year between June 1st and October 1st. So to put that into context, of the 4 division winners who were not in first on June 1st, the team that eventually won the division last year ended up making up an average of about 13.5 games over the team that was in the lead as of June 1st. So it was more likely that a team in first as of June 1st would lose 10+ games in the standings to the division eventual winner than not. Essentially that means that the only teams mathematically eliminated are Kansas City and Texas.

So when you think about it, if the Yanks made up the (as of right now) 11 games, not only would it really not be that big a deal, it's almost predictable. It's more likely than not that the Sox will slip 10 games to the eventual leader by year's end. In fact, the Yankees would be an abject failure if they did not make up 13 games between now and October 1st. A joke if you will (see what I did there? If don't see it, re-read my first gripe about why the current standings are being talked about so much. Yes, I know. I'm very clever.).


LadyAndrea said...

I like this post, but I was hoping for a division-by-division breakdown. Interesting Yanks/Sox ploy talk, though. Good show.

Doberman Demeanor said...

Someone forward this to every member of the Brewers. The Cards have won 7 of their last 8 and Rolen, Edmonds, Eckstein and Pujols are heating up. And Carp and Mulder will be back by July. Fair warning, Milwaukee.

The Bucket said...

SO i was going to write this article, but you beat me to it! Haa, bravo. Good work, and thank you for this info