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There is a line between a fan's hope that dies only when his club is mathematically eliminated and what we know to be realistic chances of actually winning. After Wednesday's satisfying thrashing of the Yankees, the Jays are straddling that line. Shall we look a little closer?

After 113 games, the Jays are 57-56 and 6 and 1/2 games out of the wild card berth, currently held by Seattle, with Detroit and the Yankees a game back and the Twins 6 back. The Jays have a run differential of +39. Shall we go back over the last 50 years at some clubs that have made a late rush?

The '64 Cardinals

On August 12, 1964 after 113 games, the Cardinals stood at 60-53, with a run differential of +9. They were 8.5 games behind the Phillies, 4.5 behind the Giants, 2 behind the Reds and 1 behind the Pirates. They went 33-16 from there on out to nip the Reds and Phillies at the wire. The popular view is that Lou Brock's arrival triggered the Cardinal run, and it is true that he did hit well, but the Cardinal offence was not particularly hot down the stretch. The club hit about as well as they did the remainder of the season, which was not particularly well given the nature of Sportsman's Park. Rather, it was the pitching of Bob Gibson particularly, but also Curt Simmons, Ray Sadecki and young Mike Cuellar that was the key to their run. The Cardinals were also a little lucky, as the Reds were probably a slightly better club.

The '78 Yankees

On August 10, 1978 after 113 games, the Yankees stood at 64-49 with a run differential of +65. They were 7.5 games behind the Red Sox, and went 36-14 to catch the Sox (who actually went 28-23 down the stretch). It is not really a good comparison, because the Yanks were pretty clearly a better ball club than the Jays are this year.

The '04 Astros

On August 11, 2004 after 113 games, the Astros stood at 56-57 with a run differential of +37. They stood 6 games behind the Cubs for the Wild Card berth, and 4 behind the Padres, 3 behind the Giants and 2.5 behind the Phils. That is a pretty close comparison with the Jays' current situation. They went 36-13 the remainder of the way to capture the wild card berth. Carlos Beltran, who had been acquired in June from the Royals played a key role, but the Astros had been above .500 when he arrived and floundered for seven weeks before catching fire, with the offence playing a leading role.

So what about the 07 Jays?

Yes, they can. That of course does not mean that they will. What they have going for them is four starting pitchers in Halladay, Marcum, Burnett and McGowan, who if healthy can give them at least 6 good innings the great majority of the time, with sufficient offensive and bullpen support so that a 35-14 finish is possible. Unlikely, but possible. If they get to 92 wins, they've got a shot. Like the Cardinals of 64, they will need some luck though.

Realism | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Magpie - Thursday, August 09 2007 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#172801) #
Let's not forget my favourite Jays team of all time! On August 8, 1989 the Jays beat Texas 7-0 behind an outstanding performance by Mauro Gozzo (8 IP, 3H) making his major league debut. It was their third straight victory and it brought their record to - wait for it! - 57-56, as they went above .500 for the first time since their victory on Opening Day. They had a Run Differential of +38 by this point (510-472.)

Unlike this year's bunch, the 1989 Jays had the great good fortune to be in a very lousy division. Despite the mediocre 57-56 record, they were in second place, just two games behind the division leading Orioles. The Jays went 32-17 the rest of the way, and won the division by two games.

One of these days, I promise, I'm going to write a Magnum Opus about that team.
Magpie - Thursday, August 09 2007 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#172803) #
We should also, I suppose, remember the greatest in-season comeback ever. On August 13 1951, the New York Giants had a pretty decent 62-51 record. Especially decent when you note that they began the year by losing 12 of their first 14 games, and didn't make it above .500 to stay until  June 9 (26-25). Unfortunately, this still left them a full 12.5 games behind the Dodgers (72-36), with just 41 games left in the 154 game schedule.

All the world knows what happened next. (The Giants had just kicked off a 16 game winning streak - they would finish the season on a 37-7 run to wind up in a dead heat with the Dodgers, whom they would vanquish in a three game playoff.)

westcoast dude - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 12:46 AM EDT (#172817) #

the Yanks were pretty clearly better than the Jays are this year.

Ash and Jerry were talking about the '78 Yankees and figure this year's Yankees are better. I felt Ash had something important to add about Munson as a catcher but it was left hanging. They had Reggie, of course, but our Jays have a better rotation.  The Jays have taken the necessary first step of shaking the Yankee monkey off their back. If Stairs leads off and plays left field from here on in, it will happen. Believe it or not.

Magpie - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 12:55 AM EDT (#172818) #
The Cardinals were also a little lucky, as the Reds were probably a slightly better club.

A little lucky? You could say that. They were still 6.5 games out of first place with just 12 games left in the season. If the Phillies hadn't picked that precise moment to provide the greatest pennant race folderoo of all time (10 straight losses - ten!), it wouldn't have mattered what the Cardinals did.
Thomas - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 08:31 AM EDT (#172821) #

Landry and Stellick (or more likely a vacation fill-in for Stellick) had Ashby on this morning from KC (at like 630 AM KC time, no less) and were discussing the Jays-Yankees series. If they talked about the A-Rod incident and the bad blood between the two teams, I missed it.

When I started listening they were talking about the slim postseason chances for the Jays and they said that Allan Ryan of the Star had calculated the Jays would need to go 37-12 to make 94 wins, which is what it would likely take. They asked Ashby what he thought of those long odds and he replied that he had the pleasure to cover 3 Houston Astros teams that made late season surges to twice make the playoffs and once make the World Series, including one team that went 36-9 down the stretch (he could have been off a few games on the 04 squad). He said that doesn't mean it is likely to happen or won't take a great run of baseball and some luck, but  he simply said that's proof it's not the impossibility they seemed to be portraying it as.

Ashby is proof that it's not out of the realm of possibility. And perhaps it matters less who you have on the field and more who you have behind the microphone. In that case, the Jays have the good luck charm of Ashby on their side.

Mike Green - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 10:17 AM EDT (#172826) #
Of course, the '51 Giants had a rook in centerfield who could play a little...

The Yankees of '07 are indeed a good club, and may in fact be the best club in baseball despite the unimpressive record.  But, the Blue Jays face them 7 times, and stranger things have happened than a club like the Jays taking 6 of 7 from a club like the Yankees.  The fates still owe Toronto fans for 1987.

Paul D - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 10:48 AM EDT (#172829) #



Last year a number of bauxites joined the bbtf Yahoo Suicide/Survival NFL pool.

Well, that pool is happening again this year, and you're all invited.  The great thing about this type of pool is that it takes almost no thought or knowledge, and very little of your time.  You just pick one team a week, and all they have to do is win.  The catch is that if they don't win you're out of the pool, and you can never pick the same team twice.

League Name:  Primer
League ID:  3952
Password:  bondsballs


Mike Green - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#172830) #
Speaking of luck and the Cardinals, the Redbirds sit at 53-59 with a -98 run differential.  They have the good fortune to play in the NL Central and so sit 5.5 games behind the first-place Brewers.  And now they have their good luck charm in Rick Ankiel.  This coming off an 83 win World Series champ.
Chuck - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 11:27 AM EDT (#172833) #

Speaking of luck and the Cardinals, the Redbirds sit at 53-59 with a -98 run differential.

Walt Jockety has been a successful GM for a long time, but he dropped the ball this off-season. Despite being in a very winnable division, he elected to scrimp something awful (except for extending Carpenter, a deal lauded at the time by far too many). That's why we're seeing things like Ankiel now in the outfield and Looper and Wells in the rotation. And anyone's pitching castoffs, no matter how bad, can all find a home in Missoura. On principle alone, I don't want to see this team make the playoffs.

CaramonLS - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#172834) #
I challenge you Magpie to find the run differential splits for this team vs. Right handed and Left handed starting pitching (just to make it easier, their record when the the opponent starts a lefty/righty and their W/L record).

.250  .317  .411  OPS: .728  (vs. RHP)
.293 .367 .474 OPS: .841 (vs. LHP)

This is classic stat padding. We will have an inflated run differential vs. ~25% of the league (to date, the Jays have only had 24% of their ABs this season vs. Lefties)
- there just isn't enough balance to make a run at the post season, at least in my opinion, nowhere have the Jays gotten less than they deserve with the way the roster
has been constructed. Emphasize the Pythag record all you want, but really, fair is fair here. You need that hitting balance if you even want to consider making a run and
the Jays do not have that. I don't want to sound like I'm down on the team and don't wish for them to make the playoffs (of course I want them to make it), but this is
the grim reality of the situation.
Dewey - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#172835) #
Of course, the '51 Giants had a rook in centerfield who could play a little...

Yes, and by "coincidence" he came up to the Giants that year at the very end of May, shortly before they tipped over the .500 mark.   (He'd already played 35 games at AA Minneapolis by then, hitting .477 I think.)
paulf - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#172836) #
And anyone's pitching castoffs, no matter how bad, can all find a home in Missoura.

Speaking of which, did anyone notice that Ohka didn't even last a month in the Cards organization? He was picked up by Seattle - and apparently released again yesterday.
MatO - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#172838) #
Obviously, if the Jays continue to hit like they have they have no chance of going on any run.  It's implicit in Magpie's piece that to go on a run they would have to be to hit much better against RH pitching and Glaus returning to his career numbers and Thomas to 2006 numbers against RH would be a step in that direction.
Mike Green - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 01:37 PM EDT (#172840) #
Overbay returning to his career norms would be a help too. 
MatO - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 02:32 PM EDT (#172846) #
Overbay too.  Sorry about that Mike but I stated it was Magpie's article when in fact it was yours.
actionjackson - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#172847) #
CaramonLS, ask and you shall receive, courtesy of Baseball-Reference and a little grey matter exertion. The breakdowns are as follows:

vs LHSP:   Record:  18-13   RS:  163   RA:  121   Run Diff:  +42   Avg:  5.26 RS/G

vs RHSP:   Record:  39-43  RS:  370   RA:  373   Run Diff:    -3    Avg:  4.51 RS/G

That's all very interesting, but what about the run distribution? Let's say with this pitching staff that 5 runs should be enough to win any given game. Here's the run distribution versus lefties and righties.

vs LHSP:

Runs: Number of Games

0: 1 game
1: 0 games
2: 8 games
3: 2 games
4: 5 games
5: 3 games
6: 2 games
7: 2 games
8: 2 games
9: 2 games

Double Digit Games:
10, 11, 12, 13

Pct of "Winnable Games": 15/31= .484

vs RHSP:

Runs: Number of Games

0:  2 games
1: 11 games
2: 12 games
3: 14 games
4:  9 games
5:  8 games
6:  6 games
7:  7 games
8:  3 games
9:  4 games

Double Digit Games:

10, 11, 11, 12, 13, 15

Pct of "Winnable Games":  34/82= .415

This obviously is not to say that you can't win games when you score less than 5 runs, it's just that with 5 or more the offense can look themselves in the mirror and know that they did what they could to win the game and that has happened all too infrequently this year. Feel free to make use of the numbers for more interesting studies if you wish.

I should mention that over the last 10 games against LHSP, the team is 5-5, with 60 RS and 42 RA, good for a +18 RD, while in the last 10 games against RHSP, the team is 6-4, with 51 RS (15 in the last game!) and 39 RA, good for a +12 RD, so maybe *crosses fingers* the tide is turning against righties. I need to see them start to bash righties and win on the road before I'll be convinced of a possible playoff push, but we all know that in baseball anything can happen. ;)

FanfromTheIsland - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#172849) #
 Vernon being Vernon could help too.
Nigel - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#172855) #
Here's the funny thing - Vernon is being Vernon.  Wells' OPS+ this year of 94 fits in well with 4 of his 6 full years in the majors (more if you look at his minor league record) - 98, 100, 131, 103, 104,126.  He is basically an average offensive player who has thrown in 2 significantly above average offensive years in the majors.  I think criticizing Vernon this year is like criticizing Burnett for having a 4.00 -4.25 ERA.  There is such a body of evidence on both of them that you need to recognize that they are what they are.  Expecting more than one or two big offensive years out of Wells over the life of his current contract is unrealistic - not that there is anything wrong with hoping for more but it is what it is - hoping.
Ducey - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#172860) #

Oh you guys and your fancy pants statistics.  Lets look at it the old fashioned way - the schedule.  24 home games vs 25 road games.

Road: Projected 13-12

KC: Jays win 2/4, LA 2/4, Oak 2/3, Bos 1/3, TB 2/3, Det 0/1, NY 2/4, Bal 2/3

Home: Projected 15-9

LA: 2/3, Bal 4/6, Oak 2/3, Sea 2/3, NY 1/3, Bos 2/3, TB 2/3

Overall 28-21.  Nice finish but not nearly enough.

trent77 - Friday, August 10 2007 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#172863) #
I respectfully disagree.  Vernon is on pace for his worst year.  He is on pace to have career lows in homeruns, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage.  He is also on pace for a career high in strikeouts.  Sure he could get hot and bump those numbers, but his only real comparible year is his 1st full year, when he hit 23 hrs, 100 rbi's and had an OPS of .762.  He struck out 85 times that year.  At bare minimum, Wells is a .280 hitter who will hit 25 homeruns and drive in 100, and even those numbers would be dissapointing considering last year and 2003.  This guy has hit 1 homerun since the All-star break.  ONE!    
grjas - Saturday, August 11 2007 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#172900) #
While winning the wild card will be a challenge, a good run that keeps them in the hunt till the end would be a great experience for the younger guys, esp. McGowan and Marcum.  (for that matter Wells and Halliday too- it's been a while since the Jays were in a playoff race). Of course to get truly into the race will take a big series with the Royals- not only to get their win totals up, but to gain some confidence on the road...
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