How Not to Win the Division


In today’s post, I’ll break down the three most important objectives that often times, winning teams overlook during a pennant race.  In the game of baseball, sometimes these simple tasks get lost in the long, 162 game regular season.  By sticking to the following guidelines, no team, regardless of their talent, should ever find themselves in the playoffs come October.  In this example, I’ll use the St. Louis Cardinals as the ideal scenario.

1.  Score as few runs as possible.

They say you can’t win if you don’t score, but even the least likely candidates are capable of plating a few runs every now and then.  Take a look at what the Cardinals were able to do over the past two nights.  Facing the Kansas City Royals, one of the worst teams in baseball, the Cards were able to limit their scoring to just one run in the first game of the series, and two in the second.  By limiting their scoring, the Redbirds are able to put their opponent in a better position to win the game.  This first rule sounds fundamental, yet is seldom executed from playoff teams.

2.  Build a poor bullpen, and overuse it.

The nice thing about this rule is that no matter how good your starting pitchers perform, you’ll still have a decent chance of blowing the lead, even to mediocre offensive teams.  Again, the Cardinals are a perfect example of this.  The Cardinal relievers rank number one in losses in the National League with 18, and amongst the worst in ERA.  Had it not been for the bullpen, the Cards would be in danger of winning the current series against the Royals.

3.  Strategically plan your losses.

So often this one is overlooked.  Take a look at the Cardinals again.  They trail the division leading Chicago Cubs by only a few games.  Knowing how seldom the Cubs lose, the Cards somehow manage to time their own poor play in direct correlation with the Chicago ball club.  Notice the perfect execution over the last two days, as both the Cubs and Cards have lost back-to-back games, insuring no ground gained for St. Louis.  If they can keep it up, they’ll be sure to come in second, or worse.

Keep these points in mind as you watch tomorrow’s game.  Chances are, the Cards will only win if the Cubs do.