The San Diego Padres were one of baseball's biggest stories at the All-Star break. They were on top of the National League West standings despite starting the season with a $37 million payroll, the second lowest in the major leagues behind the Pittsburgh Pirates' $34 million.
Two weeks into the season's second half, the Padres are still quite the story. They continue to lead the NL West, up by three games on the San Francisco Giants, and have improved their probability of making the postseason, which would be their first playoff berth since 2006.
According to Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report, the Padres' chance of qualifying for the playoffs has risen from 52.5 percent following the games of July 11, the final day of play before the break, to 75.9 percent. The gain of 23.4 percent in that two-week span is the largest in the major leagues. They lead a top five that looks like this:
|Team||Odds on 7/25||Odds on 7/11||Net Gain|
It is not surprising that the Padres and Giants are the two biggest gainers because their fellow NL West rivals the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers are among the five biggest losers in the past two weeks. The Giants have gone 9-2 since the All-Star break, while the Padres are 7-2, the Rockies are 2-8 and the Dodgers are 4-7.
Madison Bumgarner (1.13) and Matt Cain (1.20) both went 2-0 in two starts for the Giants, who led the NL in that span by allowing just 2.45 runs a game, while Jonathan Sanchez had no-decisions in both his outings but posted a 2.25 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12 innings. Buster Posey has been the hot hitter, batting .439/.467/.610 in 45 plate appearances since the All-Star break, bringing his hitting streak to 18 games.
The Cardinals went 8-3 as Matt Holliday hit .375/.487/.562 in 39 PAs. Adam Wainwright pitched 12 scoreless innings in two starts while going 1-0 and Chris Carpenter was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts.
The White Sox have gone 4-6 since the break but still improved their playoff chances because their American League Central rivals, the injury-ravaged Tigers, have posted a 2-9 record while scoring an AL-worst 3.09 runs a game. Gordon Beckham has batted .455/.471/.667 in 34 PAs for the White Sox and John Danks has won both starts while posting a 3.95 ERA.
The Twins have also been aided by the Tigers' swoon and they've managed a 7-4 showing in the second half. Carl Pavano (1.00) and Francisco Liriano (1.23) have won both starts, with Liriano striking out 16 in 14 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, the five biggest losers in the past two weeks:
|Team||Odds on 7/11||Odds 7/25||Net Loss|
The Rockies have stumbled since the break as Ubaldo Jimenez, the starter for the NL in the All-Star Game, has gone 0-2 in two starts with a 12.27 ERA and nine walks in 7 1/3 innings. Jason Hammel has also lost both starts with a 5.14 ERA and Jorge De La Rosa is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two starts with eight walks in 9 1/3 innings.
Brennan Boesch is a big reason why the Tigers' offense has ground to a halt—along with injuries to Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez—as he has hit .094/.194/.094 in 32 plate appearances.
The Mets are the lowest-scoring team since the break, averaging 2.09 runs a game while going 2-9 as David Wright has hit .175/.222/.275 with 14 strikeouts in 43 PAs and Jason Bay has a .229/.308/.257 line with 13 punchouts in 39 trips to the plate.
The Red Sox are 4-7 in the second half.
Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton got the save for the NL in the All-Star Game but isn't doing much to save the Dodgers' playoff chances as he has gone 0-2 with a 12.37 ERA in three games since, giving up five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .