Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
With 32 games left in the season and a 10-game lead in the National League West, it looks like the Los Angeles Dodgers, barring a major collapse, will be playing in the post-season.
What’s interesting about the Dodgers run to the playoffs this season is that the team has shot to the top of their division without playing well within their division. The Dodgers are 23-27 (a .460 winning percentage) against division foes this year. What has helped has been solid performances against those teams outside their division; they are 22-11 against NL East teams, 19-8 against NL Central opponents, and 12-8 in interleague play.
Usually, teams that win divisional title don’t play under .500 within their division. In fact, since 1969 when baseball went from playing with no divisions within each league to two divisions per league (and eventually three divisions in each league which is the current format), only a handful of teams have won a division title after playing under .500 within their own division.
Here’s a look at those teams;
1974 Pittsburgh Pirates: Won the N.L. East with a 44-46 record versus division foes. Were 44-28 against N.L. West opponents.
1994 Texas Rangers: Won the A.L. West with an 8-22 record versus division foes. Were 21-20 against A.L. East opponents and 23-20 against A.L, Central teams. (Note: This was a strike-shortened season.)
1996 Texas Rangers: Won the A.L. West with an 18-21 record versus division foes. Were 42-20 against A.L. East opponents and 30-31 against A.L. Central teams.
2006 St. Louis Cardinals: Won the N.L. Central with a 39-42 record versus division foes. Were 16-15 against N.L. East opponents and 23-11 against N.L. West teams.
In addition, three teams played exactly .500 within their division and won division titles. The three: the 1972 Detroit Tigers (won the A.L. East with a 42-42 record against division teams and were 44-28 against the A.L. West); the 1983 Los Angeles Dodgers (won the N.L. West with a 45-45 record against N.L. West teams and were 46-26 against N.L. East teams); and the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks (won the N.L. West with a 36-36 record against division teams and were 24-9 against the N.L. East and 22-20 against the N.L. Central).
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