The Wacky NL Central

What a gosh darn awful division. Or, you could say that it is the best division. Either way works for me. I’m going to show you the facts, and then you decide.

The winner, the Cardinals, had the least amount of wins of any division winner. Well, sure, there’s only 6 divisions. But, still.

The Pirates were the 2nd best last place team, second to only the 70-92 Padres. The Pirates finished 69-93, so it was pretty close. The next team up, the Reds, were 2nd among second to last teams at 75-87, trailing only the 81-81 Phillies. The Cubs were also second in third place teams, but the Brewers were second to last. Of course, having the worst first place team doesn’t help too much. But, then of course there’s some other facts too.

There was an average of 40 games won between the first place team and the last place team in 2019. The NL Central was too good for that. The difference between the first place Cardinals and the last place Pirates was 22. The closest competitor was the NL West, which was a 36 win difference. It was obviously the closest division, and even though the Cardinals weren’t too good, it was still pretty fun to watch. In fact, there was also a collapse, a very lucky team, and a pretty average Reds team. Let me explain.

Let’s do the collapse first. If you want a full version of me explaining what happened, just check out the Downfall of the Cubs. But let me take a quote out from the second part, the Cubs in 2020.

“The date is September 21, 2019. The Cubs have an 8-7 lead over the Cardinals in the top of the ninth, with 0 outs. This is the first pitch of the ball game for Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel. Yadier Molina took advantage of a meatball right over the middle, and he smashed it. Craig Kimbrel looked shocked. The fans stared on in disbelief. But it’s not over yet, right? 8-8 with 0 outs, and a not very good pitcher in. On the very next pitch, Paul DeJong hit a long fly ball. It kept going. And going. And going. And then, it was gone. That game put the Cubs 3.0 GB for the NL Wild Card, and they had a losing streak of 5 games going for them. This game perfectly sums up the Cubs season, and it showed that they would not make the playoffs. Their losing streak would amount to 9 games at one point.”

I think that this one play sums up the collapse. A 9 game losing streak, seriously. Who does that? But that’s not it. There’s more.

On August 8th, 2019, the Cubs were sitting on a 3.5 game lead. Although it wasn’t ideal, they were pretty far from falling out of the playoffs. Believe it or not, this was when the Cubs NL Central lead would peak. That shows that they weren’t a great team, or at least not as good as expectations. Anyway, on September 17, 2019, the Cubs were sitting 2 games back, and then they would lose 9 straight. That’s a collapse to me.

Let’s take a look at the very lucky team. It’s the Brewers. But first, let’s take a look at what Pythagorean luck is.

Pythagorean luck is a team’s Pythagorean W-L record minus a team’s real W-L record. It shows how lucky a team got. In fact, the Brewers were the luckiest team in baseball. Their luck rating was -8, so that’s 8 games that they should have lost rather than won. They got pretty lucky.

And of course, those average Reds.

First of all, their run differential was 0.1, which is VERY close to 0. Actually, this was supposed to be a joke, but when I looked at the stats, it showed that they were pretty average. And their Pythagorean W-L was 80-82, which is very close to 81-81. So yeah, even they were average.

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