So just how do the teams in our post-modern post-season structure belly up to the bar for fall ball? How many times do teams that make the playoffs have poor months along the way? And is August the "month of decision" for most of these teams, or does September produce as much excitement as the loopy Lords suggest is the case?
We will have to beg off on Question #3 for now, because we haven't gone back to run the numbers yet. (Fortunately, our current double wild-card thingee is a mercifully recent phenomenon, so we should be back with those answers at season's close.)
We suspect that the chart (at right) will answer some or all of the other questions, however. We have five months of the 2015 season broken out into the 30 WPCTs in each month--a total, thus far, of 150 WPCT data points (we are leaving the team names out to protect the guilty and to keep the chart from frying your eyes).
What we see here is that only eight of 150 monthly WPCTs for the teams currently in position to make the 2015 post-season were under .500. That's 5.3% of the WPCTs. Not a lot of margin for error--at least not this year--where it seems that August has separated the wheat from the chaff (barring any spectacular tailspins...can you say Cubbies, anyone?).
What we see here is that August is clearly a month of "separation"--six playoff-bound teams played over .650 ball during the month. (The WPCTs of currently playoff-bound teams are shown in bold type.)
We should note, for purposes of symmetry, that there are six instances of teams playing over .600 ball in any given month and not being (at least not currently...) playoff-bound. The most notable of these teams: the Minnesota Twins, who were 20-7 in May but have fallen behind the Texas Rangers for the second wild-card slot.
August is also the only month where no playoff-bound team played under .500. April, which had close to as many top-performing teams as August, had two playoff-bound teams (the Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays) under .500--with the Rangers starting out in a big hole (.333).
We'll look at all this more deeply when we get to the end of the year...stay tuned.