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Thursday, September 20, 2012
In a word, no. September games, on average, are less important than games in May, June and July. Here's a table of the relative importance of games by month, from 2008:
Month Game LI Apr 0.47 May 0.63 Jun 0.70 Jul 0.64 Aug 0.46 Sep 0.43As you can see, games (on average) were less critical in the last two months of the season. Now, there were some very important games in 2008, including two games of playoff intensity between the Twins and White Sox. There were a couple of division races, too.
Still, the criticality of those games was more than offset by the number of teams out of their division races, as well as the number of teams with comfortable leads. No drama for those teams; no critical games. On average, less intensity at the end of the season.
I chose 2008 because that was the year I pulled together my Drama Index for games, which measured the criticality of games based on each division race. You can argue that tighter pennant races will result in different results, and you'd be right. But the monthly differences in 2008 aren't small, and I doubt they'd be overcome by even the most intense pennant races. Maybe someday I'll run the results for 1967.
The point is, as Colin Wyers noted on Twitter this morning, that September results in general matter less for your MVP votes than other months. Keep in mind, however, that importance will vary by team.
Braves 3, Marlins 0: Kris Medlen continues his astounding second half, shutting out the Marlins for eight innings. The Braves have won his last 21 starts, which is the most any team has won any one pitcher's starts since the Yankees and Whitey Ford from 1950-53. Is there any doubt who will be starting the wild card game for the Braves?
Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Nietzsche once said that hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man. That kind of describes the Pirates' season as they sink to .500 and look to sink farther still. After how much hope there was in the middle of the summer, is this season's now-likely less-than-.500 finish more depressing than the last 20? Kinda feels like it. Meanwhile, Marco Estrada has been like Kris Medlen north. He improves to 4-1 with a 1..23 ERA in his last six starts.
Phillies 3, Mets 2: Ryan Howard drove in the tying and winning runs with a two-run bomb in the ninth off Josh Edgin. Who is a left-hander. Meaning that Ryan Howard actually got a hit off a left-hander. Is this real life?
Rays 13, Red Sox 3: A shame that a team can't spread its runs over multiple games, because the nine extra ones here woulda helped the Rays elsewhere. The Red Sox used four pitchers in the sixth inning. They walked six batters as the Rays scored seven runs.
Nationals 3, Dodgers 1; Dodgers 7, Nationals 6: Day game: Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run over six innings and the bats eked out a couple of runs on sac flies and groundouts. In the nightcap, L.A. blew a 6-0 lead in the eighth but Matt Kemp hit a homer in the ninth to win it. And since everyone made a big deal out of it when he pitched well, it's worth noting that Stephen Strasburg's stand-in John Lannan pitched here too and gave up six runs on eight hits in three and two-thirds.
Royals 3, White Sox 0: The AL Central leaders were shut out by Bruce Chen for six and two-thirds. Meanwhile ...
Tigers 6, Athletics 2: Detroit beats the A's again, with yet another homer from Miguel Cabrera. Bad news for Oakland, though, as they lose Brett Anderson, who strained his oblique. That's a big, big blow. Third straight loss for the A's, who need to find a way to survive this road trip of death least the Angels knock down the door.
Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2; Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: Andy Pettitte came back and pitched effectively in game one and Ichiro had seven hits across both games of the doubleheader to pace the Bombers. Derek Jeter got his 200th hit of the season to lead off the nightcap.
Cardinals 5, Astros 0: Lance Lynn has his second straight excellent start since coming back to the rotation. Maybe he just needed some time to clear his head.
Twins 6, Indians 4: Josh Willingham continues his outstanding year, smacking his 35th homer and driving in four. Those 35 bombs are the most any Minnesota Twin player has had since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 in 1970.
Rangers 6, Angels 2: Reader Lewp was so kind to me that he recapped this one himself for me and sent it in:
Rangers top Halos with pair of three-run frames
Thanks, Lewp! Four game lead in the division for Texas. And no, it doesn't look like the Angels are knocking down any doors.
Giants 7, Rockies 1: Matt Cain went eight and won his 15th. Pablo Sandoval homered. Seems like the Rockies stopped playing two months ago.
Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Another extra innings game, another win for Baltimore. And don't look to dumb luck here, look to (a) Adam Jones hitting a two-run homer in the 11th to once again brings home to Seattle how bad that trade was for the Mariners; and (b) dumb Mariners. Michael Saunders, specifically, who ended the game by getting caught stealing second when there were runners on the corners in the bottom of the 11th. Good effort, dude.
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 2: Weird passage from the AP game story: "The Diamondbacks are .500 since they were 64-64 on Aug. 26." I'm not sure if that's supposed to be significant or not. Then again, the AP was confusing me a lot yesterday. In my general news AP feed, the 10th story listed in the daily top ten was "Ben Vereen files for divorce." I'm not even sure if that was news in the 70s. Heck, I wasn't even sure Ben Vereen was still alive. Then I remembered, nope, it was Flip Wilson who was dead.
Reds 6, Cubs 5: Drew Stubbs hit an RBI single in the 11th after Brandon Phillips reached second on a popup that David DeJesus misplayed. The Reds played without Dusty Baker, who was in the hospital for an irregular heartbeat.