A month ago, the Colorado Rockies were 11 games behind the first place San Diego Padres and it seemed as they would be playing out the last month of the season for pride. But this morning, the Rockies find themselves a game and a half out with 13 games remaining.
During the last couple of seasons, September has belonged to the Rockies. They seem to play their best baseball in the last month of the season. Since August 21, the Rockies have a record of 20 wins and seven losses. They have transformed into a legitimate playoff contender. But they should be thankful they play in the National League West.
It is a great thing to play with confidence in the final month of the season. But it is a dangerous train of thought to expect to play your way into a playoff race every year. Confidence in baseball is essential. But in any sport, you can't assume you can raise your play on when needed.
I wonder if the Colorado players assume that if they can stay around .500 (win half of their games) through the first four and a half months of a baseball season, they will play well enough through the end of August and September to be in the hunt. If so, this is a dangerous trend to fall into.
There is no question the Rockies are playing good baseball. When you are 20-7 in the last month, there is no arguing that point. But over the same time, the Padres have a record of 10-17. including a 10 game losing streak, and the San Francisco Giants are 15-11. Colorado has had plenty of help to creep back into the playoff race.
If you look at some other races - let's look at the Yankees, who have the best record in baseball. On August 21, the Yankees had a record of 76-47. If the Rockies and Yankees were in the same division, the Rockies would have been 12.5 games out of first place. As of today, even with the Rockies recent streak, the Yankees would hold a 7.5 game lead and there would not be any playoff conversation associated with Colorado.
I understand that that Rockies don't have to play in the American League East and I should only compare them to the teams they are in direct competition with. And that is fair. Again, I don't want to discount the fact that Colorado has been playing terrific baseball and look to be heading to the playoffs.
I just caution that if you think the way you play the first three quarters of a season doesn't matter because you can make a splash during the final stretch, your season may be over before you get there.