At press time, Willie's team is in 4th with 86.5 points. about 15 more than he had a mere 3 weeks ago. Is there more room for growth here? On offense, it's unlikely that they're going to get any more power points, but there's room for maybe 1-2 total points in steals and OBP. But it's the pitching side where things are interesting, because this team is in a 3-way tie for 3rd in wins, and a 4-way tie for 6th in WHIP, and only has 70 innings to go (not counting Carpenter's start today).
I'd say the win total has a problem with the innings limit, but there are only 2 weeks of baseball to go, and it's unlikely that King Felix and Verlander are going to be out there hurling complete games for no reason in particular. So that obstacle is non-existent. On the offense side, the team's got a tough balancing act on Michael Bourn: it needs his speed, but his OBP is an anchor. I'll call it something of a wash, and guess that this squad picks up another two points, one on offense, and one when someone else drops out of these deadlocks on the pitching side. Which raises a valid question: should we be overriding Yahoo and calculating ERA, OBP and WHIP out past the decimal places it lists?
The Revenge Society
Currently at 88 points, I'm having trouble seeing this squad getting past 90 points. There isn't much low-hanging fruit in the offensive categories, and 1/3 of this team's starting lineup is Yankees, who are undoubtedly going to be rested over the last couple of games. There's a chance he could gain a half point from breaking the OBP tie, but that's about it.
On the pitching side, they're in first in all three counting categories, and while there's an outside shot they could lose a point in wins, with a staff of Buchholz, Linecum, Haren and Liriano, I wouldn't exactly be worried. In ERA they're .04 from the team in front of and behind them; that looks safe. That leaves WHIP, where they're also part of the aforementioned 4-team logjam. I like their chances to shave the needed .01 off their WHIP to gain .5 - 1.5 points, but that's about it.
The Spam Avengers
They have 102 steals; Teddy and Andrew have 104, I have 106. Can they make up the 3 point gap in the last two weeks? Because that's the only realistic spot where they can make up ground on offense. I'm calling it unlikely, simply because I think Tampa's likely to sit BJ Upton (40 steals), the Mets have no reason to play Angel Pagan (35 steals), leaving Justin Upton, Joey Votto and Robinson Cano with the workload. Good luck with that.
No, it's the pitching where this team is going to try to make a run for the top. They're in a 3-way tie for wins, and are a whopping one K behind two teams. They're also in first in ERA (by a fair margin) and tied for first in WHIP. To combat this, they have on their roster Clayton Kershaw, who's been on fire; Roy Oswalt, who's pitching for the best team in the NL; the always dangerous Cliff Lee; and the one Yankee with something to prove: Andy Pettite.
My co-author's path to victory is pretty clear:
- Keep Tulo healthy. Without him, this team would be in 4th.
- Steal some bases. They need to keep ahead of Alex and gain a point or two here, which should be doable, given they have several guys who are capable of swiping a base every day (CarGo, Gomez, Tabata, Tulo, even Ryan Braun).
- Have the pennant races continue. The more often Ubaldo Jimenez, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Sanchez are pitching in games that matter, the more likely they are to give Teddy the extra point in Wins he needs.
The winner is going to be determined in categories like wins, steals and fractional points in WHIP. Well shit, that's not random, that's completely random. The way it appears, Alex has the most upside while Scot has the least, while he also has the most crater potential while Teddy has the least. Based on that, I'll stupidly predict:
1st: Alex, 92 pts
2nd: Chad, 91 pts
3rd: Will, 89 pts
4th: Scot, 88 pts
On a final note, let's give it up to Jon for making a run at breaking my record for fewest points in a season. We're all very proud of you.