04 June 2007

The First Place Series

by Joshua Worley

The three Dodger wins in the Pirate series are the kinds of games the Dodgers will have to win to be a first place team. Some teams are first place teams because they outscore their opposition by plenty. Those teams are the elite teams. Other teams are first place teams because they outscore their opposition by a decent amount and do really well in close games. Those teams are magically scrappy. The Dodgers are magically scrappy. Seriously, this isn't meant as a put-down of them. All kudos to them for pulling it off so far. It's a fun way to be in first place. It's also a dangerous way to be in first place, because it's not certain that they can keep it up. Now a GM should think that it won't keep up. A fan doesn't have to think that way, though.

Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New York (N), Los Angeles of Anaheim and San Diego have all outscored their opponents by plenty, and all are in first place or in the wild card position. They are the elite teams. Below these 6 elite teams are 7 teams who have outscored their opponents from anywhere between 35 and 15 runs. That range of run differential a third of the way into the season is a hit or miss sort of thing. You're just as likely to have a losing record as you are to be in first place with this kind of run differential. Here are all the teams that have outscored their opposition by between 15 and 35 runs:

34 - 23 --- Los Angeles
34 - 24 --- Arizona
29 - 27 --- Oakland
28 - 27 --- Minnesota
27 - 29 --- San Francisco
24 - 31 --- Chicago (N)
24 - 31 --- New York (A)

Having a decent run differential could get you in first place, or it earn you a place as one of the season's massive disappointments. There are five teams in this group, more than half, who are well out of a playoff spot right now. There's no room for error when you don't outscore your opponents by that much.

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