Yesterday, we briefly explored the American League playoff picture, today we focus on the National League where the divisional races are heating up.
Starting in the East with are immediately faced with a conundrum. Just about all season long the Jeff City Blausers have led the division despite sporting a negative run differential. Over the course of a few weeks it means nothing, in late July however, it does make you pause. Can this squad really keep it up despite being outscored? Well, they've lost 4 in a row and coupled with a 4 game win streak from Chatanooga, the Blausers now lead by just 3.5 games. They're just 4-8 against Chatanooga with 10 left to play.
The Central is race between what may feature the two best teams in baseball. The defensive powerhouse Manhunters cling to a 1.5 game lead over the Pinata Beaters, and the two have been separated by only a few games all year long. Martian sports the most wins in ATB, despite scoring 2.8 runs per game, a remarkable achievement if you stop and think about that. Spanish Harlem is 2nd in the league in wins and 1st in Run Differential and have a very slight advantage head to head, winning 8 of 15. This race is too close to call, but the loser looks to be the Wild Card winner - Spanish Harlem currently holds an 11 game advantage.
Finally in the West, Capetown and Grumman are neck and neck, struggling to stay above .500 while punishing each other at the same time (they've split 12 games to date). Waiting in the wings is Lakeview, currently 4.5 back with a poor -60 run differential. While they are not out of the race completely, one must figure they are an extreme long shot. Cape Town may be the most interesting team in ATB, struggling to find wins despite a +90 RD. Their actual record vs Pythagorean record is historically bad - an incredible -10. I went back several years and this is the worst mark in recent history. It is strange - despite the best offense in the National League, they are just 1-40 when trailing as of the 7th; they are also 12-20 in 1 run games.
The NL race for the playoffs is one of division title or bust. Compared to the AL, fewer teams are in the hunt, but you could argue a lot more is at stake in the NL East and West.