The most recent run of beating up on bad teams got me thinking. We're always talking about the importance of winning the easy ones--especially in those all-too-frequent series in which the Brewers lose to the Pirates. (Seriously--sometimes I wonder if the single best part of having a good team is that we consistently beat the Pirates now.)
So, are the Brewers really "taking care of business" in the games that are supposed to be gimmes, or is it just a mirage generated by a couple of good recent series? And how does that compare to the performance of other good teams?
This year, the Crew has played 26 games against teams that are currently last in their divisions. We've gone 6-2 against the Nats, 6-6 against the Reds, 2-1 vs. the Padres, and 2-1 against the Orioles. That's a total record of 16-10, a percentage of .615--a little better than the full-season winning percentage of .569.
There are four other teams that are currently under .500, and the Crew has done even better against them. We've beaten the Braves 6 of 9, the Pirates 5 of 6, the Rockies 3 of 7, and the Giants 6 of 6. Total: 20-8. The record against all sub-500 teams, then, is 36-18, an even .667 mark.
The conventional wisdom, I would think, is that such a good record against weak competition is par for the course. As you might expect, the Cubs have had similar results.
Against cellar-dwellars, the Cubs are 12-10 (fewer games against the Nats and Reds) and 26-8 against the rest of the sub-500s, thanks to an 11-4 record against Pittsburgh. Altogether, 38-18, just a smidge better than the Brewers so far.
The Cardinals have been the best of the three teams against last-place clubs--against the three NL trailers, they are 16-4, though their 2-4 record against the Royals moves them back to a more human 18-8. Against the other four sub-500 teams, they are a more pedestrian 16-14, giving them a total of 34-22.
And this means what?
I don't think a team's record against sub-500 teams means all that much--I'm sure that if I ran the numbers on all contenders, the vast majority of them would be in the same ballpark with these three teams, and that the same is the case every year.
But it is reassuring to know that the Brewers are racking up the wins against lesser competition. It bodes well for the remaining nine games against the Pirates.