Or “Step on them! Step on them hard!”
Early in the season, I don’t pay attention to the standings for a while. Certainly not to get excited about. But today I broke down and started playing with the numbers, building on Dave’s “Fun Thought” post, wondering what the chances are the M’s will compete for a pennant and how important this series might be. Start with the pre-season conventional wisdom that the Angels were the team to beat in the AL West. That they were a 85-win team.
Now we’re a tenth through the season. Seattle’s 10-6, LA of A are 6-9. They’re three and a half back already. That’s a surprisingly big hole to climb out of already. A couple games ago, when the M’s were 8-3, you could run the rest of the season out and the M’s would finish three games back.
It’s even tighter now — play out the season with the M’s gong .480 or so, the Angels rally to go .525, and they’ll finish two games ahead.
So let’s look at this next series. What if the M’s sweep? They’ll come out 13-6, the Angels will be at 6-12. Then if you still assume they’re 85 and 78-win teams and play that way the rest of the year, the M’s win the division by a game.
2-1, the M’s finish a game back.
1-2, three games back.
Or to put this another way: if the M’s sweep to get to 13-6 and play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’ll win 85 games, or what the Angels were supposed to win. The Angels, to recover, have to play .567 ball all the way to the finish.
This omits of course any adjustment we should be making to their true strength — are the Angels now worse than their pre-season projections? If so, lower their chances. Does the M’s early start (and particularly the Washburn revival) show us that they’re legitimately stronger than everyone thought, and a team that can go .500 or better the rest of the way? If so, bump their chances up.
No matter what, though, the two teams starts have given the M’s a surprising opportunity to put a divisional rival deep into a whole they may not be able to escape this year… and we’re sixteen games in.
We start The Interview, Newer Slimmer Carlos Silva, and The Bus. This is going to be good.