Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Phillies in 1st on June 1st, a Very Good Sign

We're two months into the baseball schedule. June just began. Apparently if your team is in first place in the division on June 1st, that's a very good sign. Doug Miller at MLB.com has more.

And by reading into recent history of teams' records on the first day of the third month of the season, some predictions can be made.

Of the 89 teams that have had outright or shared leads of divisions since 1995, the first year that had six divisions and a postseason, 59 of those teams have qualified for the playoffs, or 66.3 percent.

Going season by season, the only years since '95 in which every June 1 division winner made it to October were 1998 and 1999, and the '99 Red Sox had to do it via the Wild Card. But otherwise, 2001 was the only year in which fewer than half (two of six, or 33 percent) of the June 1 division leaders made it to the playoffs.

Last year, five of the six June 1 leaders made it, with the late-surging Phillies riding their September momentum all the way to their first World Series trophy since 1980.

Well that bodes well for the Phillies then. Basically a 66% chance of making the playoffs. I'll take that! But Miller has more to say about each division leader this year. Here's his take on Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Phillies: Nobody's closed ground in the late months of the season better than this club over the last two seasons. Just ask the New York Mets. And while some of those magical pieces from 2008 haven't quite materialized yet this season -- it turns out Brad Lidge really is a mortal closer, after all -- the Phils are right there where they want to be. In fact, they're the only team that was in first place last June 1 and is back in the driver's seat a year later. And after missing the postseason the two other times they led the NL East on June 1 (ultimately succumbing to the Atlanta juggernaut in 1995 and 2001), they finally got it done last year. That just might be one more good omen for all the phanatics out there.
So right now the Phillies are only 1 for 3 in holding on to a June 1st lead. Statistics say that the Phillies should be 2 for 3. In order to get to a more respectable percentage they have to win the N.L East in 2009 - which would be their third straight divisional crown. Do it! A list of how each division shaped up on June 1st from 1995 through 2009. The teams in bold ended up making the playoffs.

Division leaders on June 1st from 1995 through 2009. Teams in bold made the playoffs that season (MLB.com).

So the Phillies are eight games over .500 on June 1st, 2009 just as they were on June 1st, 2008. And I think we all remember how that season ended.

OK, so being in first on June 1st doesn't guarantee a playoff spot, let alone a World Series title. But it feels good to be there for a second straight year. Ya gotta like the Phillies chances of repeating at this time. Especially if they catch some of that fall magic again!

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