Lots of things happen in September. Kids who haven’t already gone back to school go back to school. We celebrate Labor Day by wearing white and seersucker for the last time. The autumnal equinox occurs. Retailers set up Halloween displays. Many financial crises commence. And baseball enters the final full month of the season, its stretch drive.

We all like a comeback. Usain Bolt’s 100 at Rio, the Music City Miracle, Texas A&M against Northern Iowa, Truman vs. Dewey. They’re all famous because of the improbable outcome. (Well, maybe not Bolt. But the rest.) What baseball teams have come on strongest in September?

To answer this, I selected every team from 1913 through 2015 that won at least two-thirds of their games in September (and, where appropriate, October.) I used two-thirds as my cutoff…well, because. That’s a pretty good month! It equates to a 108-54 season.

Since 1913, 210 teams have won two-thirds of their September/October games, from the 1913 Cubs, who did not win the pennant, to the 2015 Cubs, who did not win the pennant. (Just trolling you, Cubs fans! But it’s true.) They can be broken into three groups.

Group 1: They Were Gonna Win Anyway
As you’d expect, teams that are good enough to have a winning percentage of .667 in a month are usually teams are good enough to have a high winning percentage in other months as well. Of the 210 teams to win two-thirds of their September/October games, 119 played in the postseason, 57 percent. Of those 119, 66 were in first place on August 31. Another 21 were close, less than three games from the top. So a lot of the clubs that had an outstanding final month waltzed into the postseason. Five stand out, with Secretariat-at-Belmont closing months:

1. The 1995 Indians were 80-35 at the end of August. They led the Royals in the Central by 21.5 games. They went 20-9 the rest of the season to bury the division by 30 games in a strike-shortened season.

2. The 1943 Cardinals had opened up an 11-game lead over the Reds by the end of August. They went 24-6 to close out the season, one of the best September/Octobers on record, to win by 18.

3. The 1983 White Sox were the only American League West team with a winning record the morning of September 1, leading the Royals by 10.5. They matched the 1943 Cardinals’ 24-6 over the rest of the year, finishing 20 ahead of Kansas City.

4. The 1929 Athletics had a 12.5 game lead over the Yankees at the end of August. A 17-6 September, best in the majors, expanded that lead to 18 games.

5. The 2011 Tigers had a 5.5 game lead on the Indians and 6 on the White Sox as September began. They went 20-6 over the season’s final month, the best in the majors, as the other two teams had losing records. Detroit finished with a 15 game lead.

Group 2: No Cigar, Often Close
Of the teams to win two-thirds of their September/October games, 43 percent didn’t play in the postseason. By and large, they were good teams that fell a little short. But there were exceptions. The 1926 Braves were in last place, 48-77, 25 games behind the Cardinals before they caught fire, going 18-9 in September. Their .384 winning percentage entering September is the worst ever for a team to win two of three September games. The 1951 Athletics were 53-77, 28.5 games out of first, with the second-worst record in baseball, going into September. They went 17-7 that month, the best record in the American League, but they still finished 28 back of the Yankees. More recently, the 2008 Royals ended August with a 57-79 record, the second worst in the American League, 20 games behind the Central-leading White Sox. They went 18-8 the rest of the way, the best record in the majors, but still finished 13.5 games out. In all, 29 teams that ended August with a losing record won two thirds of their remaining games, and only three of those teams, all in the divisional era—the 1973 Mets, the 1995 Yankees, and the 2008 Dodgers—played into October, the Yankees as a wild card.

But some of the teams that didn’t make it came really, really close. Here are my picks for the five strong finishers who came up heartbreakingly short:

The 1977 Red Sox and Orioles were each four behind of the Yankees through August. And each won 71 percent of their remaining games, going 22-9. Had New York gone 18-12—a respectable .600 winning percentage—over that time, the Red Sox and Orioles would have made up a rainout, with the winner playing a game against the Yankees for the division title. Instead, New York was the third AL East team to win two thirds of its September/October games, going 20-10, finishing 2.5 games up on its rivals.

Long before the Yankees became their arch nemesis, the 1924 Brooklyn Robins ended August four games behind the other New York team, the Giants. The Robins had a league-best 20-8 record in September and pulled even on September 22, with four games to go. But Brooklyn split two games with the Cubs and two with the cellar-dwelling Braves while New York went 4-1 against the Pirates and Phillies to win the pennant.

The 1982 Orioles were in third in the American League East, five behind the Brewers and half a game behind Boston, at the start of September. They were 22-10 the rest of the way, the best record in the American League. They pulled into a tie with the Brewers on the second to last day of the season, winning an 11-3 blowout. But they were in turn blown out 10-2 by Milwaukee the next day, losing the division by a game and ending Earl Weaver’s last shot at a seventh postseason.

The 1928 Giants were 6.5 behind the Cardinals on the morning of September 1 and two behind the Cubs. They caught fire, going 25-8 over the rest of the season. They were only a game behind going into a four game series at home starting September 27. They dropped three of four and finished two behind St. Louis.

The 2001 A’s had the second best closing month in history, going 23-4, an .852 winning percentage, topped only by the 1935 Cubs’ 23-3. Unfortunately, Oakland chose to do it the year the Mariners went 116-46. So even though Oakland picked up three games on Seattle over the final month, the Mariners still won the division by 14. The A’s won 102 games, the sixth most this century, but blew a two games to none lead over the Yankees in the Divisional Series.

So we’ve examined teams whose strong finish allowed them to stretch their first-place lead, and those whose strong finish still left them short of the postseason. Early next week, we’ll examine teams whose September hot streak vaulted them into October play.

Thank you for reading

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*sigh* Thanks for reminding me of the 2001 A's, Rob. My early 20s were set to the backdrop of the dizzying highs and monumental disappoint of those early-aughts Oakland teams.
I feel your pain, man. I remember watching one of those games while out with my wife at a restaurant with a TV tuned to the game. I literally lost my appetite watching it.