Exactly how NL western could possibly be best race that is tight

Last month, after the Padres acquired Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Ha-seong Kim — but before they’d traded for Joe Musgrove, or the Dodgers added Trevor Bauer, or the Rockies dealt away Nolan Arenado for little return — FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system and came away with dual 98-64 projections for the two behemoths out West, noting at the time that “this is the best divisional race ZiPS has ever projected, going on two decades of prognostications.”

Best ever? Before those moves that are extra? Give consideration to us intrigued.

We have not heard of updated figures yet, which will now add Musgrove, Bauer and a Colorado that is weakened team will face the Padres and Dodgers a combined 38 times, but we’d guess they’re better. Maybe “pair of 100-win teams” better, even. Maybe it doesn’t matter; “100” sounds nice, but it’s not really functionally different from 99.

But what we do know is this: The NL West has, at worst, two of the three best teams in baseball, and they can’t both win the division. Since it’s likely we’re not going to have an expanded postseason in 2021, there’s a far greater emphasis on getting to place that is first avoiding that one-game crazy Card Game. Getting place that is first a lot. There’s two teams that are great to have it. You can view where this might be going. We are maybe not likely to determine today who’s likely to really win the western, though we are positively circling “Padres at Dodgers, Sept. 28 through 30” within the series that is next-to-last of year on our schedule.

We’re more interested in this: Could this be the greatest 1-2 race that is divisional further back than Szymborski alluded to? We will need to use results, maybe not projections, but let’s imagine those two groups perform also they are likely to. Just what would take place if a Dodger that is 101-win team out a 100-win Padre team, or vice-versa? Is only the outcome important, or what happens along the real method?

How … can you also measure that?

We can’t, very first, overstate the value of winning the unit, waiting in the home and resting your hands, in the place of to arrive 2nd. It isn’t that a Wild Card group can not or does not ever win the global world Series; the Nationals did it as recently as 2019. It’s just that it’s a complete lot harder. Because the crazy Card was initially introduced in 1995 (it had been a team that is single league through 2011, then two from 2012-’19), there have been 66 Wild Card teams prior to 2020. Just seven have won the global world Series. There is a lot of value to avoid that coin that is one-game, and the likelihood of that playoff system as compared to the 2020 expanded field might have motivated the Dodgers to keep adding to a great team in the first place.

They might not be done, either. They still don’t really have a baseman that is third. Possibly that is the return of long-time celebrity Justin Turner, nevertheless a agent that is free. Maybe that’s a trade of Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin for Matt Chapman, or someone like him. Regardless: They’ll be great if they do if they don’t make a move, and great. Therefore will the Padres. It will likely be an race that is incredibly entertaining. What might it look like, historically?

Let’s begin here. There have been 10 teams in Major League history to win 100 games and not finish in first. That would seem to be a decent point that is starting

2018 Yankees (100-62, 8 games behind Red Sox)
2001 A’s (102-60, 14 games behind Mariners)
1993 Giants (103-59, 1 game behind Braves)
1980 Orioles (100-62, 3 games behind Yankees)
1962 Dodgers* (102-63, 1 game behind Giants)
1961 Tigers (101-61, 8 games behind Yankees)
1954 Yankees (103-51, 8 games behind Indians)
1942 Dodgers (104-50, 2 games behind Cardinals)
1915 Tigers (100-54, 1 game behind Red Sox)
1909 Cubs (104-49, 6 games behind Pirates)

“Being tied up with 101 victories after 162 games, needing a playoff” as those ’62 Giants and Dodgers had been, may seem like a pretty spectacular race that is pennant. But do all of these really count as exciting races? For example: The 2001 A’s and Mariners were both excellent. But finishing 14 games out, as the A’s did, hardly seems like an race that is exciting. At the start of August, once they had been 20 games out, it had beenn’t also a race at all.

Maybe we must have a look at one thing more specific to ‘great events.’ let us look just at events where teams that are multiple contention with one another had a .600 winning percentage, which is a 97-win pace over 162 games and 92 wins over the old schedule that is 154-game. Dating back again to 1945, there have been 27 races that are such and we’ll knock out the five that ended up being decided by more than five games. We’re left with 22 races that are great

But that is simply end for the period. We are greedy. We would like excitement for half a year, because neither the Padres nor Dodgers are out-of-nowhere groups; they are each likely to be great from begin to end. Clearly there has to be additional credit provided for a fantastic competition between great groups that plays away within the season that is entire. Right?

To that end, let’s sort those races by how many of their games they ended within five games of one another. That is, the 2001 A’s and Mariners were within 5 games of each other at the final end of only 10 games — all arriving at begin the growing season — that isn’t a lot of a race. (Seattle got as much as a 10-game lead on April 25 and invested each day the remainder period with a double-digit lead.) The 1962 Dodgers and Giants invested 160 games no longer than five games aside, that will be amazing.

Basically, we are maybe not finding this:

So we seemed through every one of those events to obtain the people which were the closest all long year. That excluded some of history’s best comebacks, like that ’93 Braves/Giants race (San Francisco blew a lead that is 10-game plus the ’51 “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” Giants/Dodgers competition (Brooklyn blew a 13-game lead).

We discovered many that have beenn’t that right at all. We discovered a few — like two yankees/Indians that are different in the 1950s — with just a few days of being more than 5 games apart. August the ’62 Dodgers/Giants race had two days, and only ever so slightly; the Dodgers were up by 5.5 games for two days in early. We discovered three which had 0 days that are such

1948 AL (Yankees / Red Sox / Indians)
1950 AL (Yankees / Red Sox / Tigers)
1977 AL East (Yankees / Red Sox orioles that are/

Interestingly, all three had been three-team events, all arrived into the United states League, and all sorts of — shocker! — showcased the Yankees and Red Sox. That ’77 three-teamer seemed such as this, if you’re wondering just how tight that has been. The yankees (100 wins) beat the Red Sox and Orioles (97 wins) by 2.5 games at the end. (Yet still didn’t have the best record in the league, since Kansas City won 102 games.)

While we actually really like what the rebuilding Giants are doing right now, they’re clearly not in the league that is same the Dodgers and Padres are, if you’re into great three-team pennant events, you won’t discover that in the nationwide League West in 2021.

Either method, two of the three occurred years prior to the notion of divisional play. If you should be finding the maximum 1-2 full-season race that is tight two great teams, we might put our money on that ’62 Dodgers-Giants race, given that it did end in a tie. But if you’re looking for something in the era that is divisional the closest we are able to aim you to is 1985, whenever Cardinals (98 victories) topped the Mets (97 wins), though with 17 various cases of the groups being significantly more than five games aside. (That 1993 competition, once more, while seen as classic, was not constantly that close before the end.)

So, if the Dodgers and Padres each post an absolute portion in excess of .600 — completely reasonable on both counts — and if they do in a way where they are frequently neck-and-neck, could this be the ideal 1-2 divisional battle?” We are perhaps not ready to say “ever,” because some pretty things that are classic since 1969. But in the era that is divisional? It’s a go. These groups are that good. They are that close.

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