An interesting thought crossed my mind in the recent past, seeing the Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos) leading the majors with the best record in baseball. Only one other time in MLB history had that happened: the strike-shortened season of 1994. There are some interesting parallels from that season to this one in 2012, beyond just what the team in D.C. is doing:
1994 was the first six-division season (three per league) one year after teams expansion (introduction of the Marlins and Rockies one year earlier in 1993), and there were still no Diamondbacks and Rays (1998) as well as the Brewers still found themselves in the AL Central. The chart above is somewhat interesting, however, in the teams that have numbers bolded. The leaders of EVERY division in the AL (East – New York Yankees, Central – Chicago White Sox, and West – Texas Rangers) were the same at the conclusion of the 1994 “season” (when the strike terminated the season and any hopes of the first post-season with a wild card). With the exception of the San Francisco Giants clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL West (Los Angeles Dodgers were leading by three games in 1994), the other two NL leaders (East – Expos / Nationals, Central – Cincinnati Reds) are also the same. The Montreal Expos had the best record in baseball by a large margin over any other team, and they were easily headed for only their second post-season in franchise history. The sad irony was there were no playoffs, and the only prior appearance (which remains the only to-date) was a strike-shortened season in 1981.
Beyond the teams leading the divisions, there are, of course, some other exceptions, BUT the top two Wild Card teams in 1994 (Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles) are also in contention for WC spots right now. Granted, there’s a secondary WC spot per league at play this season for the first time, so maybe there’s something to this format change being an impetus for certain teams to come to the forefront … or simply strange coincidence.
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