Baseball’s best rarely finish on top in October

AP File PhotoAlthough the Giants and the Tigers made it to the world series

AP File PhotoAlthough the Giants and the Tigers made it to the world series

Best in baseball? The Detroit Tigers and Giants spent large parts of the season just trying to catch mediocre teams like the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers just to win their divisions.

Those up-and-down regular seasons are distant memories now that the Giants and Tigers have raced through the playoffs and have played two games of the World Series.

The Giants trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West as late as mid-August before making a strong run to win the division and finish tied with the third-best record in the National League.

The Tigers were merely six games over .500 with three weeks left in the regular season and made the playoffs despite posting the seventh-best record in the American League.

For much of its history, baseball was a grueling, six-month endurance test, with only the top team in each league going to the postseason.

Now, with six divisions and four wild-card teams, it’s more a matter of just getting into the tournament and getting on a roll in October.

“I think ideally you like to see the teams that have the best record end up there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “But as we have mentioned many times, once you get to the playoffs it does become a little bit of a crap shoot, who’s playing the best at that time. You understand that. That’s why wild-card teams have done well. A lot of them are fighting to get there, but they’re also playing well at the right time.”

Both the Giants and Tigers got in as division winners but they were not the top teams in their leagues over the 162-game haul.

In the 18 postseasons since the playoffs expanded in 1995, the team with the best overall record in the regular season ended up as World Series champion just three times. The Yankees did it twice, in 1998 and 2009, and Boston accomplished it as well in 2007. That one out of six rate is little better than if the champion was chosen randomly.

Bruce BochyGiantsMLBSan FranciscoSan Francisco Giants

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday said a rebranding and reoganization of the former Gang Task Force amounts to “more than just the name change.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faced with surge in shootings, Chief Scott reenvisions SFPD’s Gang Task Force

New Community Violence Reduction Team adds officers with community-policing experience

Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)
Grocery workers could gain additional weeks of $5 per hour hazard pay

San Francisco will vote next week on whether to extend a law… Continue reading

The fatal shooting of San Francisco resident Roger Allen by Daly City police on April 7 prompted protests in both cities. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Daly City approves body-worn and vehicle cameras for police after fatal shooting

Daly City officials on Wednesday approved body and vehicle cameras for police… Continue reading

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

Most Read