Take a glance at the Major League Baseball standings, and what do you see?Well, Milwaukee's on top of the National League Central. The D-backs and Rockies are first and second, respectively, in the NL Wild Card race, despite Colorado's seven-game losing streak.Over in the American League, the Twins and Rays
Take a glance at the Major League Baseball standings, and what do you see?
Well, Milwaukee's on top of the National League Central. The D-backs and Rockies are first and second, respectively, in the NL Wild Card race, despite Colorado's seven-game losing streak.
Over in the American League, the Twins and Rays are tied for the second Wild Card spot. The Astros are comfortably out front in the AL West.
MLB has been stressing parity in the game -- payrolls notwithstanding -- and the results underscore the claim.
Sure, there's a bit more than half of the season remaining before the postseason spots are finalized. But consider what's going on right now, and then reflect on what has happened in the past decade in particular, but since the advent of the Wild Card in 1995 in general.
In the past decade, every team except the Marlins, Padres and Mariners have advanced to the postseason. Seven teams have won a World Series in the past 10 years, including the Giants in 2010, '12 and '14 and the Red Sox in '07 and '13. San Francisco went into Wednesday with a 29-51 record, worse than every other team except the Phillies (25-51).
In the past 20 years, six Wild Card teams have won the World Series -- the Marlins in 1997 and 2003, Angels in '02, Red Sox in '04, Cardinals in '11 and Giants in '14.
And this year ...
The Brewers are coming off back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the NL Central, with a combined 141-183 record the past two years. This season? They stumbled early, losing three of four to the Rockies to open the year. However, they reached .500 on May 7 (16-16), and they haven't slipped back below since. Thursday was the 41st morning of the season they were in first.
The D-backs haven't had a winning record since 2011, and they have lost 90-plus games in two of the past three years. They haven't been below .500 this season. They entered Wednesday 50-28, the second-best record in the NL, and the third best in baseball. They tallied 18 days in first place.
The Rockies notched six consecutive losing seasons, finishing those seasons an average 23 games out of first place in the NL West. They went into Wednesday's game in San Francisco having lost seven in a row, but they still had a sizable lead on a Wild Card bid. They have never been below .500 and spent 67 games atop the division before falling from the top spot a week ago.
The Astros were a Wild Card team in 2015 and won 84 games last year, but they finished 11 games out in the AL West. In the four years prior to '15 they lost a combined 416 games, dropping more than 100 in three of those seasons. This year, they have the best record in the big leagues (52-26), and they are 12 1/2 games up on the Angels and Rangers. They have spent 82 days atop the division.
The Twins are coming off a 59-103 season, their fifth losing record in six years. They haven't been more than two games below .500 this year, and they have spent 50 days atop the division, slipping out of first place most recently on Monday.
The Rays are coming off three consecutive losing records. Their season low this year has been three games below .500. They haven't had a losing streak exceeding four games.
There are no guarantees about what is going to happen in the second half of the season. There is, however, hope for franchises that have hit on hard times in recent years.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.