Nationals Baseball: Print them out, dammit!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Print them out, dammit!

The Nats can wait on sizing their heads for the NL East crown.  No one wants to scream "No Comeuppance!" only to be comeupped, and potentially, I guess, they could somehow stumble through the remainder of the season while the Braves tear it up and end up losing the crown by a few games.  But miss the playoffs? Seriously? If the Nats haven't left that territory yet they are showing their passports to the border patrol as we speak.

I like to think this is just soulless automaton Harper speaking, but maybe this has a lot to do with where I'm coming from. I'm not a DC sports fan and I don't know your trauma. (I've been exceedingly lucky in my sports fandom - you may vomit if I spell it all out).  I don't expect the other shoe to drop, not on a team that's as talented as the Nats. But similar things have happened, like Jamie Mottram told you over at Mr. Irrelevant, so I guess expecting the worse is understandable.

Then again, if we concentrate on just the playoffs, the Nats are in. Do you know how many NL teams 20 games over on July 27th have failed to make the playoffs in the Wild Card Era?  Zero. (Last team to do it was the 1993 SF Giants) And that's with one wild card. It has happened a few times in the AL, most notably last year with the Red Sox, but that brings up something that you need to consider when looking at other teams that have failed. What exactly was their situation?

The 2011 Red Sox bombed out, in part because there were two excellent teams in their own division, which meant games they could lose that would directly help someone that was going to take their spot. They would go 4-5 to the Yanks to end the year, and 2-8 versus the Rays. Even then they'd need a 7-20 September overall AND a loss in the last game of the year and a Rays win to lose that spot. Are there two excellent teams in the NL East? Maybe, if you really like a healthy Phillies team, but Philadelphia is 9 games under. (Tampa was 3 over at the time they got hot) Maybe they can win a lot and beat up on the Nats but you don't turn around 9 games under into the playoffs. Looking at another way the Nats are not one of these teams, a team like the 2007 Mets, who blew their lead, were a good team but only good. At this point they were a 12 game over .500 team. They had spent June and July playing middling baseball after a super hot start. The Nats are 20 games over, and have been consistently very good. They are much better than that Mets team.
 
The Nats are not merely leading the NL East. They are one of the best teams in baseball leading their division.  In order to miss the playoffs the Nats would not only have to play 5+ games worse than the Braves, but also at least 5+ games worse than the Pirates AND 7 games worse than the Cardinals (or 7+ worse than the Dodgers after that it's like 11 games and I'm going to go out on that limb and say the Nats aren't playing 11 games worse than a team currently at .500 or worse for the rest of the year)  So if the Nats go 32-32 that means the Braves go 37-27(or the rough equivalent, I'm not counting up actual games here), the Pirates go 37-27, and the Cardinals go 39-25.  Could it? I guess. Will it? Not likely.

In fact I'll just say no. No the Nats will not miss the playoffs.  The collapse would have to be so extreme that I just don't see it happening, not with the talent the Nats have, not with the lack of talent we see across most of the NL. Start clearing October now.

14 comments:

Positively Half St. said...

I'm in. I'm even starting to regret the second Wild Card. I don't think the Nats need it to get in.

+1/2St.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

I depise the 2nd wild card. A one game playoff is a crap shoot. That is why the NATS have to win the division to be sure of obtaining a real series. But I agree with Harper, start taking ticket orders!

WiredHK said...

This is way off in our wildest dreams (but getting more vivid each day), but personally, I'd love for the Nats to play the Pirates in the NLCS. It would be good for the game and great for both cities. Imagine that Washington vs Pittsburgh for a league title was the Nats and Pirates before it was the Caps and Pens? Unbelievable...

Hoo said...

I like the second wild card b/c it's a huge disadvantage to the first wild card and a reward to the best team in the conference.

I agree the playoffs are a crapshoot but it'd be better if the regular season champs had more success in the playoffs instead ofa wildcard winning the world series.

bdrube said...

As a member of a season ticket holder group only guaranteed to get playoff tickets if there is more than one home game, I am definitely in the win the division or bust camp. It's funny, but they have turned expectations around so dramatically that a mere WC berth would a disappointment at this point.

The Fox said...

The Nats should be fine as long as the Starting pitching stays healthy.

As for the wild card I was against it at first because in baseball you had to win something to get into the playoffs. It's not like the NBA where you have to play 80 games to eliminate Cleveland ;).

The extra wild card may make it harder for the original wild card to make it to the WS which would be a good thing. I think that no wild card team should get to play a home game. This will never happen but that would make it fair in my book.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to Harp's point, BP has the odds of the Nat's making the playoffs at 95%

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/odds/index.php?dispgroup=div&standings_sort=ppct

Harper said...

+1/2 st : Selig says no backsies.

Sec 204 / Hoo / Fox - I don't despise it. My opinion is more like Hoo's, division winners should get precedent. Of course I would prefer single AL and NL divisions but that's not gonna happen.

WiredHK - I think that's the neatest match-up though certainly not the one the networks want. Too bad it can't end with a WS vs the Royals. Maybe next year.

bdrube - Well it's not even expectations, it's reality. Big lead at the end of July should have you thinking pennant.

Anon - Yep up from 88% just a few days ago. From ok maaybe to no way in my book.

Steven Biel said...

If they lose a 1 game playoff it'll feel like they were never in. gotta beat the Braves.

bsimon24 said...

I'll just say one thing to this...KNOCK, ON, WOOD.

nats super fan said...

I definitely agree.

May I bring up our two weak spots. Sandy Leon and Henry Rodriquez need to go now.

Section 222 said...

Love the second wild card. Division races now really mean something, as does having the best record in the league. If the Nats win their division and have the best record in the league, they get to face a team that has already used its ace on the 1 game play-in. That's incentive the keep the gas on all the way to the end of the season.

DezoPenguin said...

I agree with Hoo as well. The second wild-card simultaneously allows more teams into the playoffs (meaning more meaningful baseball down the stretch as well as more interest in improving teams via trade) AND gives more significance to winning a division title. It's a win-win for the game overall. Of course, if the Braves could lose some games here and there to anyone except us, that would be nice. ^_^

Donald said...

It definitely feels like we're playing play-off baseball. I'm so glad we have Davey Johnson at the helm. It's not just about the players. Having one of the best managers in the game makes a huge difference. You can see how he's nursing Storen along. In a month, he's going to be fresh and at the top of his game. And then Werth will be back. Once the 40 man roster opens up, it'll get really fun.