If the Chicago Cubs can get at least one win on the road this weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers they will become the third team in the N.L Central Division to reach 95 wins in the 2015 season. This would be the first time since 1994 (when baseball went to a three-division in each league format) that three teams from one division won 95 or more games in a season.
From 1994-2014 there were 13 times when two teams from the same division won 95 games. It last happened in 2010 when the Tampa Bay Rays (96) and the New York Yankees (95) each reached the 95-win mark that year.
Here’s a look at the 13 times when two teams from the same division won 95-plus games since 1994.
1999: N.L. East (Atlanta 103, N.Y. Mets 97)
1999: N.L. Central (Houston 97, Cincinnati 96)
2002: N.L. West (Arizona 98, San Francisco 95)
1997: A.L. East (Baltimore 98, N.Y. Yankees 96)
2001: A.L. West (Seattle 116, Oakland 102)
2002: A.L. West (Oakland 103, Anaheim 99)
2003: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 101, Boston 95)
2004: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 101, Boston 98)
2005: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 95, Boston 95)
2006: A.L. Central (Minnesota 96, Detroit 95)
2008: A.L. East (Tampa Bay 97, Boston 95)
2009: A.L. East (N.Y. Yankees 103 Boston 95)
2010: A.L. East (Tampa Bay 96, N.Y. Yankees 95)
In eight of these 13 occasions listed above, one of the teams from that division made it to the World Series that season. Only three won the World Series that year (Anaheim 2002, Boston 2004 and N.Y. Yankees 2009). The five teams that lost in the World Series that year were Atlanta-1999, San Francisco-2002, N.Y. Yankees-2003, Detroit-2006 and Tampa Bay-2008.
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For the sixth time in the last 20 years, three teams from the same division will win 90 or more games. This year the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds, all playing in the National League Central Division, each won 90-plus (through games of 9/27/13, Cardinals had won 95, the Pirates had won 92 and the Reds had won 90). Major League Baseball went to a three-division format in each league in 1994.
This is the third consecutive year that three teams from the same division have won 90 or more games. Here’s a look at the five previous times this has happened:
A.L. East, 2012: Yankees (95), Orioles, 93, Rays (90)
A.L. East 2011: Yankees (97), Rays (91), Red Sox (90)
A.L. Central, 2006: Twins (96), Tigers (95), White Sox (90)
N.L. West, 2002: Diamondbacks (98), Giants (95), Dodgers (92)
A.L. West, 2002: A’s (103), Angels (99), Mariners (93)
With three teams in the N.L. Central winning 90 games this season, the N.L. East Division is the only division that has not had three teams win 90-plus in the same year since the three-division format began in ’94.
One final note: Of the five previous times when three teams in a division won 90-plus games, none of those teams that won the most games of the three 90-win teams made it to the World Series that year. Ironically, three of the teams that had the second most wins of the 90-win trio made it to the World Series (2002 Angels, 2002 Giants and 2006 Tigers). Could that be good news for the Pirates this season?
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
We’re not even to the midway point of the 2012 season, but that won’t prevent us from trying to analyze the 2012 season and what is going wrong with the Brewers.
Obviously the team has not played up to its capabilities (and the expectations that people had for them based on last year’s playoff run). The decline in play can be traced to several factors: the free agency loss of Prince Fielder, the season-long slump of Rickie Weeks, the slow start of free agent Aramis Ramirez, an inconsistent bullpen, and injuries to three Opening-Day starters (Lucroy, Gonzalez and Gamel). We can only hope that Shaun Marcum missing a turn in the rotation due to tightness in his elbow is not more than a one-time issue.
The season is obviously not over, and with 95 games left on the schedule the Brewers certainly have time to make up the seven-and-half game deficit they face in the NL Central. They have yet to string together a long streak of victories (the longest win streak this season has only been four games) and have been fortunate to not have a losing streak longer than four games.
That having all been said, there are still concerns from the Brewer faithful. The team has a 31-36 record (.463 winning percentage). When you compare it to the .593 winning percentage of last season, that is a .130 decline over last year. If the season ended today, that would be the second largest one-season decline in Brewers history.
Here’s a look at the largest one-season declines in team history.
Greatest one-year decline in win pct. in Brewers history
1992 (.568) to 1993 (.426) .142 decline
1983 (.537) to 1984 (.416) .121 decline
2001 (.420) to 2002 (.346) .074 decline
2008 (.556) to 2009 (.494) .062 decline
1979 (.590) to 1980 (.531) .059 decline
Looking at each of the five biggest declines above, a few of them involved managerial changes. It’s doubtful that ownership with make a change in managers, but it is interesting to note that drops of this magnitude do signal changes.
The Brewers .130 point drop in their winning percentage over last year is not the largest drop in the majors. In fact, the Philadelphia Phillies have seen a much larger decline in their winning percentage over the 2011 season. The Phils, who won 63 percent of their games in 2011, are at .456, a decline of .174 percentage points.
Following are the biggest drops in winning percentage from last season (through games of June 18).
Team, 2011 win pct./2012 win pct, Difference
Philadelphia: .630/.456 .174 decline
Milwaukee: .593/.463 .130 decline
Detroit: .586/.485 .101 decline
Chicago Cubs: .438/.343 .095 decline
Arizona: .580/.493 .087 decline
San Diego: .438/.353 .085 decline
Colorado: .451/.385 .066 decline
Boston: .556/.500 .056 decline
St. Louis: .556/.507 .049 decline
It’s interesting to note that the four teams that played in the National League playoffs last year (Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Arizona and St. Louis) are each on the list above. Add in Detroit, which played in the American League playoffs in 2011, and we have five of the eight playoffs teams from last year having a winning percentage decline of 049 or more points as of June 18.
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Prior to the beginning of the 2011 MLB season, six teams had never led their division on September 1 since 1994 when baseball went to three divisions in each league. The six: Toronto, Kansas City, Florida, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Colorado. The Milwaukee Brewers, however, will wake up tomorrow, September 1, and find themselves in the unfamiliar leader slot in the NL Central with one month remaining in the 2011 season.
In the 102 races since 1994 (17 years times six divisions), 82 (80.4%) of the teams that led their division on the morning of September 1 went on to win the division that year. Ironically, last year three teams that had the division lead the morning of September 1 did not win the title, the first time three September 1 leaders failed to win the division in a season since that first year of six divisions.
(WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the three teams that led their division on September 1 last season but did not win the title? Answer at the end of the blog.)
Here’s a look at how far division leaders were ahead of their closest pursuer on September 1 and if they won the division that year. Based on the numbers below we see that of the 56 teams that had a lead of five or more games on September 1, 55 of those won the title that year. The only blemish was in 1995 when the California Angels had a 7.5 game lead in the AL West on September 1 but lost out to the Seattle Mariners for the AL West crown.
Sept. 1 leader games ahead in standings Times Titles
0.5, 1 or 1.5 games ahead 16 10
2 or 2.5 games ahead 9 2
3 or 3.5 games ahead 10 6
4 or 4.5 games ahead 10 8
5 or 5.5 games ahead 10 10
6 or 6.5 games ahead 8 8
7 or 7.5 games ahead 11 10
8 or 8.5 games ahead 6 6
9 or 9.5 games ahead 0 0
10 or more games ahead 21 21
(Note: In one division race, 2007 NL West, two teams (Arizona and San Diego) were tied for the lead on Sept. 1. Arizona won the division.)
TRIVIA ANSWER: The three teams that had division leads last year on September 1 but did not win the title were the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres.
Did you know: Of the 30 teams that had a division lead of three games or less on September 1 since 1994, 16 did not win the division that season.