The 91-71 Giants fell agonizingly short of the title by two games. Again, they overperformed their projected (88-74) record. I suppose having a guy go .362/.609/.812 helps a bit. The Giants were 2nd in the league in RS with 850, which was 100 more than the NL average. Unfortunately they were 12th in RA with 770. That rated a 100 ERA+. The Dodgers had only a slightly better staff (102 ERA+) but were 4th in RA with 684. They were 9th in RS at 761. I suppose if you lack balance, it pays to have better run prevention than run scoring. That should give all of us hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, and sackloth-wearing Giants fans some hope. The Dodgers also overperformed their Pythagorean projection (89-73). I can only assume Jim Tracy was a genius.
The Cardinals were the best club, number one in RS (855) and RA (659). The Braves and Cubs led with a 115 ERA+, the Cards were 2nd at 114. Their 105-57 record was five better than projected (100-62). That pesky Tony LaRussa!
It gets ugly from here on out, boys and girls. 294-353 (.454) for the next four years ('05-'08). That's what made 2009 so surprising and so special. Of course, it also inflated our expectations for 2010! After all, if you win 88 games one year with a mostly young club, you expect to improve. In other words, it is natural to assume that 88 wins reflects accurately the talent level of the club, and so some minor tweaking should get you to 90+ wins and a fair shot at the title. That kind of thinking is a little sloppy in my view--it doesn't account for luck and circumstance. It expects that all the things that happened in the previous year are perfectly repeatable. It does not account for normal random variation. It does not account for changes in the schedule and the quality of the opponents. I tend to believe that the competition in MLB is pretty fierce, and that advantages gained one season can disappear the next in the blink of an eye. I've said it before--the gods are cruel. Check out the Bonds Giants from 2000 to 2004. Look at the variation in wins, and in RS and RA. This was when we had the Greatest Player of All Time! The 2010 Giants may have the stuff to win the West. I sure hope so. I'll admit I don't like the squad (well, the lineup) much. Too many Sabean-types for my taste. But what the hell, I'm "all-in" at this point and I'm going to root like hell that the gods will smile on us.