What Happened in the Central?
The Brewers have a 10.5 game lead over the Cardinals, a 13 game lead over the Reds, and a 17 game lead over the Pirates. All season long, the run away division seemed to be the National League East with the Phillies dominating and the Braves bringing up the Wild Card. Now, the Braves are 6 games back and at least within striking distance. The Brewers, on the other hand, have opened up a virtually insurmountable lead.
How did this all happen? On August 1st, the N.L. Central standings looked like this:
St. Louis: 57-21 — 2.5 GB
Pittsburgh: 55-52 — 4 GB
Cincinnati: 54-55 — 6 GB
Since then, all Milwaukee has done is have one of the all-time great months. In August, the Brewers have gone 20-5, scored 131 runs, and only gave up 77 runs. The National League records for wins is 29, held by the New York Giants. While the Brewers won’t be able to reach that total, they still have three more games this month.
While the Brewers have been winning, everyone else has been losing. The Cardinals went 12-13 in August so far, the Pirates went 7-18, and the Reds went 12-11. What’s probably more frustrating for the fans is that each of these three teams added pieces at the trade deadline in an attempt to compete for the division.
The Cardinals traded away Colby Rasmus but picked up Edwin Jackson. The Pirates added Ryan Ludwick and Derek Lee. The Reds traded Jonny Gomes to the Nationals for cash, outfielder Bill Rhinehart, and pitcher Chris Manno.
Meanwhile, the Brewers stood pat for the most part. They did trade Erik Komatsu for Jerry Hairston Jr., and they traded Wil Nieves for cash. Hardly moves designed to bolster their line-up or change their make-up. The Brewers gelled as a team while other teams were adding new pieces. They rallied around each other, the players they had battled with all season long, and put so much ground between the Cardinals and themselves that they are almost a lock for the play-offs. In doing so they now own the third best record in all of baseball.
So even though the race is all but over, we can delight in the dominance of the Milwaukee Brewers. We can revel in their success. Or we can hate their fortune. That’s what baseball is all about.