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Articles Tagged Pennant Race 

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September 16, 2007 12:00 am

Every Given Sunday: Brewing up a Stretch Surprise?

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John Perrotto

Can the Brewers finish what they started? Plus job security on Chicago's South Side contrasts with change in the Twin Cities and Pittsburgh.

Ned Yost is in the midst of his first pennant race as a major league manager but his talking like someone who has been here many times before. The Brewers skipper has been insisting all season that he has not paid any attention to what other teams in the National League Central are doing. Now that just 15 days remain in the season and the Brewers, who haven't been to the postseason since 1982, and the Chicago Cubs are locked in a duel for the division title, Yost says he is still not scoreboard watching.

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August 21, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: The 2007 Replacement Level Killers

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Jay Jaffe

These guys just slay their employers' ambitions, but it's not too late for teams to change gears.

In a pennant race, every edge matters. The late-season heroics of one individual may turn a close race into a tale of success writ large, but it's the failures writ small, the weak links on a team, that commonly create that close race in the first place. All too often, for reasons rooted in issues beyond a player's statistics, managers and GMs fail to make the moves that could help their teams, allowing subpar production to fester until it kills a club's postseason hopes. Nowhere is the value of the replacement level laid more bare than when the difference between playing into October and going home is simply a willingness to try something else.

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August 19, 2007 12:00 am

Every Given Sunday: Settling into the Stretch

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John Perrotto

If you could sit down and watch a bit of every playoff race, where would you go? John's the man with a plan. Plus records, rumors, and more.

Jim Leyland has always insisted that the pennant races don't begin until August 15th. While Leyland has never given a definitive reason for why he has arbitrarily picked that date, the Tigers' manager understands pennant races, having lead Pittsburgh to three straight division titles from 1990-92 back when the Pirates still mattered, guided the Florida Marlins to the World Series title in 1997, and taken the Tigers to the World Series last year.

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July 11, 2007 12:00 am

Looking Ahead

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John Perrotto

A quick overview of what to expect from all 30 ballclubs.

It has already been the year of the milestone in baseball. Trevor Hoffman became the first reliever ever to reach 500 saves. Sammy Sosa hit his 600th home run and Frank Thomas belted his 500th. Craig Biggio got to 3,000 hits, and Roger Clemens reached 350 wins. The biggest milestone of all is just around the corner-Barry Bonds has 751 home runs, four away from Hank Aaron's all-time record.

Aside from personal achievements, a number of interesting races are developing in the two leagues and six divisions. Now that the All-Star Game is behind us, here is a division-by-division look at what to expect in the second half of the season:

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October 1, 2004 12:00 am

You Could Look It Up: Tell Me Why...

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Steven Goldman

Current events inspire questions about the game's history. Steven Goldman has more answers than a box of Trivial Pursuit cards.

Bottle-throwing is as much a part of the fabric of the national pastime as peanuts and Crackerjack. From the game's earliest days, bottle-throwing was the bane of players, umpires and the more civilized fans. Beer was always a big part of running a ballclub, especially in the 19th-century American Association, which was seemingly owned entirely by brewers. Unfortunately, it is axiomatic that if you put a missile in the hands of a "fan" he is going to throw it. The introduction of paper cups helped curb some of the violence, but it was only in the 1930s, when the umpires began making bottles a labor issue, that the sale of glass items in ballparks was addressed in a serious manner.

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You either love the wild card or you hate it. But has anyone ever really looked at it?

The thing is, neither side has any idea what it's talking about. While I can point to specific examples of the wild card killing divisional races, MLB can point to, say, this year's National League wild-card race as an example of the concept creating interest where there would otherwise be none. Those are just examples, offered up in support of an argument, as the saying goes, rather than illumination. It's a visceral argument, not a rational one.

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September 5, 2003 12:00 am

They Wuz Robbed

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Mark Armour

There has never been a season when Barry Bonds was obviously the league's best player that he did not win the MVP award. Were he to lose the award this season (he is currently leading in VORP by 17 runs over Albert Pujols) it would be his first real injustice. If Bonds has not been mistreated by MVP voters though, several stars of the past have been. Although it has been 80 years since anyone has hit like Bonds has the past few years, there have been occasions when a player has dominated his league for several years and been ill-served by the voters. The rest of this article briefly discusses a few of the more famous cases. Ted Williams' problem was that he played in a time when it was difficult to win the award without winning the pennant, and his team finished second every year. From 1941 through 1954, Williams led the league in VORP every season that he wasn't either in the military (five years) or hurt (1950). He won two awards: 1946, when the Red Sox finished first, and 1949, when they finished one game behind. Let's run through a few of the more interesting losses:

Leaving aside the 2003 race, which is, after all, still ongoing--and which Bonds might very well win--let's turn our attention to how Barry has been mistreated in the past. To begin with, we have to deal with the fact that Bonds has won the award five times, two more than any other player in history. This is not necessarily a contradiction, of course--if Bonds is the best player in the league every year, then the writers have a responsibility to give him the award every year. Given this, how many MVP awards should Bonds have won?

As you have no doubt gathered, I make no distinction between the "best" player and the "most valuable" player. What could be more valuable than "greatness," after all? The distinction is often used as a crutch; rather than trying to make the case that a candidate is really the best player, one can instead try to cloud the issue with grammatical semantics. We won't do that here.

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August 27, 2003 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: August 19-24

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Christina Kahrl

David Eckstein's miserable season for the Angels runs into injury. The White Sox add Scott Sullivan to a good-looking bullpen. The Expos grab Todd Zeile in their desperate attempt to fill the third base void. Cliff Floyd's injury allows the Mets to look at Jeff Duncan. The Giants could get crushed if they start Dustin Hermanson in the playoffs. These and other transaction news and Kahrlisms in this edition of Transaction Analysis.

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March 17, 2003 12:00 am

The Impossible Dream

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Mark Armour

Growing up in New England, it was an article of faith that the 1967 Red Sox won the American League pennant with the help of divine intervention--that it was an "Impossible Dream." With the passage of time, this depiction has become less satisfying, if for no other reasons than that it gives short shrift to the people who actually built the team. Ken Coleman and Dan Valenti, in 1987's otherwise enjoyable "The Impossible Dream Remembered," wrote: "The real miracle of 1967 is that it happened, not as the conscious effort applied to a preconceived plan, but in spite of just about everything." Notwithstanding this supposed lack of either effort or a plan, Dick O'Connell, the team's architect, won the Sporting News Executive of the Year award. Suffice it to say that no one saw it coming. Perusing several 1967 preseason publications, most of them envisioned the Red Sox finishing either ninth (as they had in 1966) or 10th in the 10-team American League. Sports Illustrated came the closest to expressing optimism, saying: "If [manager Dick Williams] can find some pitching, too, the 1967 Sox may revive baseball in Boston."

Growing up in New England, it was an article of faith that the 1967 Red Sox won the American League pennant with the help of divine intervention--that it was an "Impossible Dream." With the passage of time, this depiction has become less satisfying, if for no other reasons than that it gives short shrift to the people who actually built the team. Ken Coleman and Dan Valenti, in 1987's otherwise enjoyable "The Impossible Dream Remembered," wrote: "The real miracle of 1967 is that it happened, not as the conscious effort applied to a preconceived plan, but in spite of just about everything." Notwithstanding this supposed lack of either effort or a plan, Dick O'Connell, the team's architect, won the Sporting News Executive of the Year award.

Suffice it to say that no one saw it coming. Perusing several 1967 preseason publications, most of them envisioned the Red Sox finishing either ninth (as they had in 1966) or 10th in the 10-team American League. Sports Illustrated came the closest to expressing optimism, saying: "If [manager Dick Williams] can find some pitching, too, the 1967 Sox may revive baseball in Boston."

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NL East | NL Central | NL West

Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' predictions for 1998. We'll go division by division and each of our staff members will tell you what they think about the races. Remember, there's a reason we don't print this stuff in the book; there is no good way we know of to predict what a team will do before the season begins. Consider these teamwide WFGs, take them with a grain of salt, and enjoy.

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