In the midst of wild card and post-season excitement, we didn't get around to updating the Pennant Race Index we formulated for you awhile back. We can thank the Braves and Red Sox for salvaging 2011 from what would almost certainly have been the most boring overall pennant outcome in the past sixteen years.
Even with the wild card madness on the final day of the season, 2011 still graded out as the fifth most boring pennant race over the time span--though possibly a better measure for the purposes of day-to-day involvement can be found in the shaded numbers which represent the number of "post-season slots" that were extremely contested in any given year.
When we do that, we see that 2011 didn't have a widespread set of close races as was the case in 2007, where five post-season slots were within two games of their closest rivals.
There have been 35 such slots over the past sixteen years, or about 2.2 a year. 2011 is just under that average, but far off the pace set in 2002, when no one was closer than 2 1/2 games.
As has been the case fully half the time (eight seasons out of the past sixteen), the NL wildcard race remained a nail-baiter, with only one game separating the post-season team from the "see you next year" squad.
It's mostly thanks to the NL Wild Card chase that the race for the fourth slot has proven to be markedly closer than the divisional chases. And 2011, with its collapsing "shoo-ins," produced the closest Wild Card average ever.