AS the White Sox slip further and further behind the Tigers despite having the third best record in baseball and a .602 winning percentage, I went back and found all the teams that have played .650 baseball or better over a full season since World War II. There aren’t many. Right now, the Tigers .677 would be the sixth best in all of baseball since 1946.
Teams that have played .650 or better since World War II:
2001 - SEA 116 46 .716
1998 – NYY 114 48 .704
1998 - ATL 106 56 .654
1995 - CLE 100 44 .694
1986 - NYM 108 54 .667
1975 - CIN 108 54 .667
1970 - BAL 108 54 .667
1969 - BAL 109 53 .673
1961 - NYY 109 53 .673
1954 - CLE 111 43 .721
1954 - NYY 103 51 .669
1953 - NYY 99 52 .656
1953 - BRO 105 49 .682
1946 - BOS 104 50 .675
Now does anyone in their right mind think the 2006 Tigers are as good as the 1953 Dodgers, 1954 Indians, 1995 Indians, 1998 Yankees, or 2001 Mariners? Of course… Well actually, they do sort of remind ya of the 2001 M’s don’t they? Not a great offensive team, but a pretty good one. And they’re getting amazing pitching on top of it. And they can’t seem to lose even if they try. But like the 2001 M’s, when you look at their roster, you’re left scratching your head… ‘sure this team is good, but…’
I’m not sure what gives, there’s no doubt the Tigers are having a magical season, one where they’re playing great baseball every day… but no one could have predicted them being 67-32 and about to run away with the division despite having the White Sox and Twins playing pretty good baseball themselves.
But back to when I looked up those teams above, the goal was to see how hard it is to play .650 baseball from start to finish. And clearly it's pretty hard since only 14 teams have done so over the past 57 seasons (not counting 1994 or 1981). So, can the Tigers keep this up?
They’ve got a shot there’s no doubt. They have to go 39-24 the rest of the way, which is only .619 baseball. They’ve had two four game losing streaks, but those were back in April and May. The Tigers are a tad worse (52-29 .642) against the American League, still fantastic, but probably a tad more telling. And as we all know, pretty much every team ever will go through a bad stretch, usually about two or three weeks long. The Tigers haven’t had that yet, besides a 2-8 stretch back in late May and early June, they’ve had smooth sailing all the way.
If the Tigers are going to ‘slump’ it’s going to start, probably, in the next week or two. They go up to the Twin Cities this weekend, then down to Tampa (who as always are a pretty good home team). Any sort of ‘slump’ there leads into a series with the Tribe, followed by the Twins, then off to Chicago and Boston, back home for the always dangerous to pitching staffs Rangers, then four with the White Sox before going to Cleveland and New York to finish off the month. That’s going to be 33 games in 35 days… during the Dog Days… and considering that the White Sox are hitting rock bottom right now, a slip up from the Tigers (say they go 17-15) is going to make September all the more interesting.
Of course, they really could be the 2001 Mariners all over again, and they’ll finish with 110 wins. Time will tell. I bet the Tigers finish with something like 102 wins and it’s enough to hold off the White Sox.
A very interesting post from a very good blog (seriously, check out his Harold Reynolds stuff, it’s fantastic) about the “Reopening” of RFK this weekend.
As I said in the comment section, the Nats are going to be a 'bummer' and disappointment as long as they continue to have, for lack of a better word, lame fans. I'm sorry, but the place is filled with about 10,000 fans rooting for the opposing team for the first pitch, then by the third inning about 20,000 National ‘fans’ suddenly show up dressed as only a square white man can dress (either pressed polo, tucked in with kakis and a ‘Nats’ hat bought about five minutes earlier or dress shirt with tie, usually not loosened). They have a 'beer' and try to talk about baseball for about ten minutes, only then to either end up talking about the fierce battle going on in the 7th district Georgia State Senate race or some bizarre law subject for the next four innings. Everyone gets up, sings TMOTTBG and leaves; once again there are 10,000 fans rooting for the opposing team.
It's not RFK that’s the problem, and sure the 'act' MLB pulled for a year and a half didn't help, but it's the fans. Until new ownership can create a few people who care more about the Nationals, than say, Maryland basketball, it’s going to be a disappointment every time you go to a game.
In fact, having lived in DC for five of the last six years, let’s do a quick landscape of the sports scene at this moment:
5) Maryland Hoops
7) Nats (but it's close with the Wiz)
8) Georgetown hoops
9) Terps football
10) Caps (but they are rising, Ovechkin gets a lot of love around here)
11) Virginia Tech Football
When you don't live around here I don't think many realize or understand how HUGE Maryland basketball is. I was floored when I first moved out here and even this year a bad Maryland team was talked about all the time. But the Terps are the #2 team in DC, as amazing as that might seem.