Tuesday, May 05, 2009

On Tempering April Excitement

Eric Stephen over at True Blue LA did a fine job detailing how the 2009 Dodgers are off to their third-best start in LA Dodger history (technically, there are three 19-8 starts including 2009), and how all of the others at least won their division if not the World Series. But before we cue the parade, consider this article that SoSG AC found in the Wall Street Journal:

Since 1900, just 40% of teams in first place at the end of April went on to win their divisions, according to data compiled by Sean Forman of Baseball Reference. Nearly as many finished in third place or worse. The typical April champs' winning percentage was 14 percentage points lower during the rest of the season.

It's become easier to finish in first place as Major League Baseball has expanded from two divisions, to four, then to six. But even since the last realignment in 1994, just 47% of teams that led their divisions at the end of April finished the season in first, and 10% of April leaders finished in fourth or fifth place. What's more, 30% of these early leaders couldn't even play .500 ball the rest of the season.

The article has an accompanying graphic highlighting the five division-leading teams who finished the worst, since 1996. And #4 was the 2005 Dodgers: first in April with a .652 win percentage; fourth by years' end with a .438 win percentage. Ugh.

Hey, I want to be excited. I want to believe! But I'll know more after May 20, when we complete a nine-game span against non-NL West teams (I am discounting the two upcoming games against the Nationals).


Chappy said...

The better they do the harder it is for me to remember it's still far too early to get excited.

Gotta take one game at a time!

Eric Stephen said...

I do not accept this Negative Nancy column!!! :)