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Thread: Indians, Nationals, and Astros eliminated from 2009 playoff chase...I guess

  1. #1
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Jun 2000
    The Bluegrass State

    Indians, Nationals, and Astros eliminated from 2009 playoff chase...I guess

    If history is an accurate indicator, the Indians, Nationals, and Astros should start thinking about 2010. The Red Sox, Brewers, and Giants (all 2-5 or worse as I type this) probably should, too.

    Notice that our Reds were one of the teams to overcome a 1-6 start and win the division (bolded).


    Yes, it’s time for the Indians to panic

    By Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports Apr 14, 11:04 am EDT

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Cleveland Indians reached the Panic Number on Monday.

    This is not some nebulous figure. The Panic Number is serious business. It portends doom for those unlucky enough to tumble into it. A sub-.500 record is almost a given. Playoffs? Say it like Jim Mora, because the chances are that slim.

    And the thing is, because teams reach the Panic Number roughly a week into the season, there’s a natural inclination to scoff at it, to laugh it off as some kind of reactionary hokum not worth discussing.

    So before burying the Indians with more than 95 percent of their season to play, allow us to present a few facts: Over the past 25 full seasons, 45 teams in Major League Baseball have begun their seasons 1-6 or worse. Of those 45, eight have finished the year with a better-than-average record. And of those eight, only one – the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies – made the postseason. In which they were promptly swept.

    See why we call 1-6 the Panic Number?

    It gets uglier when looking at the full seasons of the wild-card era. Since 1996, only three teams have finished above .500 after starting 1-6: the ’04, ’06 and ’07 Phillies, who seem to have a knack for reversing ugly starts.

    The Indians, on the other hand, have started 1-6 twice since 1982. They went 60-102 the first time, 61-101 the second. And after a 4-2 loss to Kansas City on Monday left them staring at that record and the grimy fate that almost always accompanies it, the Indians did what all teams that get off to bad starts do: They got defensive and said they’d turn it around.

    “What are we, seven games into the season?” Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach said. “I think we’re OK. Still got some time to make up some ground.”

    While that seems perfectly reasonable – after all, 155 games remain – recent history suggests otherwise. Teams that hit the Panic Number in the past 25 full seasons averaged 70.4 victories. They weren’t all historically bad – only eight 100-loss teams are in the group – but the across-the-board failure was too significant to ignore.

    (And since we’re in full-disclosure mode, it would be irresponsible not to point out that the Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central in the strike-shortened 1995 season after finishing 1-6. Two other Panic Number teams that year didn’t make the playoffs, and two more from the strike-canceled ’94 season wouldn’t have been in the postseason, either.)

    Washington and Houston hit the Panic Number this week, too. Though neither can thank its pitching staff – and, in particular, its starting rotation – quite like Cleveland. Fausto Carmona’s five-inning, four-run performance Monday lowered the rotation’s earned-run average from 11.62 to 10.91. Before Anthony Reyes gave up four runs in six innings Sunday in the Indians’ first victory, Scott Lewis led Cleveland’s rotation with an 8.31 ERA. Carl Pavano, the Indians’ starter on Tuesday, has an 81.00 ERA, which makes his teammates look positively Gibsonian.

    “Right now,” Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta said, “nothing is working.”

    The Indians’ bullpen did throw three scoreless innings Monday to drag the team ERA down to 8.24, and as the season progresses, it surely will drop a few more points. And yet, the question will fester: Is it too little, too late? Or perhaps more pointed: Did Cleveland really blow its season on a mid-April Monday in Kansas City?

    Well, teams that begin the season 2-5 certainly have a better shot at the postseason than their brethren one game back. Since 1996, seven teams that began with a record of 2-5 or worse made the postseason, accounting for 6.7 percent of postseason slots. One of those teams, the 2003 Florida Marlins, won the World Series.

    From ’82 to ’93, before the wild card, only two teams that started 2-5 qualified for the playoffs. The 1985 Cardinals went to Game 7 of the World Series. The 1991 Twins won Game 7 of the World Series.

    So while the success of 2-5 teams is minuscule in the grand scheme, they’re driving Bentleys compared to the 1-6 crowd that chugs alongside in a rusted-out Datsun.

    “We’ll get it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ll figure it out.”

    Perhaps he’s right. One particular factor plays in Cleveland’s favor: the AL Central looks like a wasteland. Minnesota desperately misses Joe Mauer. Kansas City can’t score. Detroit’s pitching is suspect, and it could pawn off its remaining talent this summer. And Chicago, the division’s defending champion, doesn’t inspire much fear.

    Maybe the Indians can spit in the face of the Panic Number. The talent is there, if Cliff Lee can find his reigning Cy Young self, and Carmona can regain his 2007 form, and Grady Sizemore and Mark DeRosa and Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo comprise the top of a potentially potent lineup.

    Those are a lot of ifs. And Wedge remembers the 2007 Tigers. They were the favorites to win the AL Central, like the Indians this year. Detroit started 0-7. It finished 74-88 and in the Central cellar.

    Still, Wedge won’t kowtow to what the Panic Number foretells.

    “I can’t do it,” he said. “Fans are allowed to. Other people, too. But I know where we are, and what we need to do, and it’s just matter of doing it.”

    Fair enough, and, really, now, Cleveland has suffered enough baseball disappointment, hasn’t it? No need to salt a wound.

    So … hey, Boston. Guess what? The Red Sox are 2-5.

    Not time to panic. But it’s pretty close.

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  3. #2
    Moderator cumberlandreds's Avatar
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    May 2003
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    Re: Indians, Nationals, and Astros eliminated from 2009 playoff chase...I guess

    The Gnats were eliminated before the season even began. They are horrible and may exceed their 102 losses from last season.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

  4. #3
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Oct 2000

    Re: Indians, Nationals, and Astros eliminated from 2009 playoff chase...I guess


    In six of the past seven years, MLB's final winless club ended up the season at least 14 games under .500. In four of the past seven years, MLB's final winless club lost at least 95 games.

    I'm sure you could PECOTA your way into proof that this is the dumbest use of numbers in baseball history, but here are the worst winless starts to a season of recent vintage, and those teams' final results. It's not exactly fodder for the optimists among us.

    * 2008 Detroit Tigers (Started 0-7, finished 74-88, tied for 21st overall.)

    * 2007 Houston Astros (Started 0-4, finished 73-89, tied for 21st overall.)

    * 2007 Washington Nationals (Started 1-8, finished 73-89, tied for 21st overall.)

    * 2006 Pittsburgh Pirates (Started 0-6, finished 67-95, 27th overall.)

    * 2006 Kansas City Royals (Started 2-13, finished 62-100, 29th overall.)

    * 2005 N.Y. Mets (Started 0-5, finished 83-79, tied for 11th overall.)

    * 2005 Colorado Rockies (Started 1-8, finished 67-95, tied for 27th overall.)

    * 2004 Seattle Mariners (Started 0-5, finished 63-99, 28th overall.)

    * 2004 Montreal Expos (Started 2-11, finished 67-95, 27th overall.)

    * 2003 Detroit Tigers (Started 0-9, finished 43-119, 30th overall.)

    * 2002 Detroit Tigers (Started 0-11, finished 55-106, tied for 29th overall.)

  5. #4
    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
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    Re: Indians, Nationals, and Astros eliminated from 2009 playoff chase...I guess

    Inferior teams are more likely to lose games at any given point of the season and therefore less likely to win championships.

    If you avoid "streakiness" and assume random distribution of wins, the probability of a .600 team winning 1 or fewer of 7 games is 1.88%. So expect one out of every 50 teams that go .600 on a season to start 1-6 or worse.

    Conclusion: most teams lose because they are bad, not because they are on a bad streak.

    Groundbreaking, huh?
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."


  6. #5
    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Back in Florida

    Re: Indians, Nationals, and Astros eliminated from 2009 playoff chase...I guess

    Oh...and 2-5 IS a lot better. The probability for a .600 team shoots up to 9.63%.
    (Five times more).
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."


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