MLB: A 5-year analysis of each National League club’s 60-game start since 2015

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MVP favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. won't be a 40-40 candidate in 2020, but 34 wins seems eminently doable for the Braves -- the reigning NL East champs.

Alright baseball fans, are you ready for a 60-game sprint to Major League Baseball’s postseason, even though the owners and players inexplicably couldn’t agree on an expanded playoff format?

(Instead of 16 total clubs reaching postseason glory, the American and National leagues will stick to their current system of five playoff teams apiece — two wild cards and three division winners.)

Are you ready for an Opening Day of July 23 and 24? (Here’s a link to MLB’s daily schedule.)

Are you willing to sacrifice the major league clocks of your team’s top prospects in the minors, if it means surprise contention for a division crown?

And as fans, how will you react when your favorite team incurs a losing streak of five, six or seven games, believing such a string of defeats could vanquish any playoff hopes in October?

As a means of adjusting to this one-time-only anomaly of playing out merely 37 percent of a standard 162-game campaign, BATSBY Sports offers a five-year capsule review of every National League club since 2015, relative to their 60-game starts from each season:

CLICK HERE FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE’S 5-YEAR BREAKDOWN

NL EAST

BRAVES

2015: 29-31
2016: 18-42
2017: 27-33
2018: 35-25
2019: 33-27

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 28-32

NATIONALS

2015: 31-29
2016: 36-24
2017: 38-22
2018: 35-25
2019: 27-33

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 33-27

METS

2015: 31-29
2016: 34-26
2017: 27-33
2018: 27-33
2019: 28-32

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 29-31

PHILLIES

2015: 22-38
2016: 29-31
2017: 21-39
2018: 35-25
2019: 33-27

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 28-32

MARLINS

2015: 24-36
2016: 31-29
2017: 27-33
2018: 21-39
2019: 23-37

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 25-35

NL CENTRAL

CUBS

2015: 33-27
2016: 42-18
2017: 30-30
2018: 36-24
2019: 34-26

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 35-25

BREWERS

2015: 22-38
2016: 28-32
2017: 32-28
2018: 37-23
2019: 34-26

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 31-29

CARDINALS

2015: 39-21
2016: 32-28
2017: 28-32
2018: 33-27
2019: 31-29

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 33-27

REDS

2015: 28-32
2016: 22-38
2017: 29-31
2018: 21-39
2019: 28-32

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 26-34

PIRATES

2015: 33-27
2016: 32-28
2017: 26-34
2018: 30-30
2019: 29-31

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 30-30

NL WEST

DODGERS

2015: 35-25
2016: 32-28
2017: 35-25
2018: 30-30
2019: 41-19

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 35-25

DIAMONDBACKS

2015: 28-32
2016: 25-35
2017: 35-25
2018: 32-28
2019: 30-30

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 30-30

GIANTS

2015: 34-26
2016: 35-25
2017: 24-36
2018: 30-30
2019: 25-35

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 30-30

PADRES

2015: 30-30
2016: 25-35
2017: 23-37
2018: 26-34
2019: 31-29

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 27-33

ROCKIES

2015: 27-33
2016: 28-32
2017: 37-23
2018: 31-29
2019: 31-29

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 31-29

CUMULATIVE CHAMPS (5-YEAR STUDY)

NL EAST: Nationals
NL CENTRAL: Cubs
NL WEST: Dodgers
WILD CARD #1: Cardinals
WILD CARD #2: Brewers vs. Rockies (one-game playoff)

OBSERVATION #1

For this five-year study, the Cubs and Dodgers are the only NL teams to post .500-or-better records for every 60-game launch.

Here’s another bit of symmetry: Both Chicago and Los Angeles merely held the division lead at the 60-game marker twice, suggesting neither franchise should be considered 100-percent locks for the Senior Circuit’s No. 1 seed, come playoff time.

Of course, the Dodgers have never had Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger in the same lineup … so who knows?

OBSERVATION #2

Here’s the most fascinating thing of the NL study:

The Nationals were cumulatively 40 games above .500 after 60 games from 2015-18; but for this prolific span, Washington proffered only two postseason appearances … and never advanced out of the Divisional Series round.

For last season, however, the Nationals endured dreadful starts of 19-31 and 27-33, before rallying for a wild-card berth (thanks to a 48-27 finish).

Washington then forged come-from-behind series victories over Milwaukee (wild-card round), Los Angeles (NLDS) and Houston (World Series) to claim the first world championship in club history (Expos/Nationals).

In other words, the Nationals wouldn’t have sniffed the playoffs last year, if the 60-game seasonal sprint had been in effect.

OBSERVATION #3

The Diamondbacks could be shoo-ins for the 2020 playoffs, based on three rock-solid factors:

a) Arizona has a win differential of plus-34 over the last three seasons. For the 60-game launches during that same period, the D-backs are right on schedule at plus-12.

b) The offseason additions of pitcher Madison Bumgarner (career tallies from July-September: 3.16 ERA, 997/231 K-BB rate) and outfielder Starling Marte (a 30-30 candidate during typical 162-game seasons) have the capacity to hit the ground running on Day 1, perhaps carrying the Diamondbacks for an amazing 20-game stretch.

c) The D-backs have a 30-27 record against the Dodgers, charting the last three seasons of head-to-head action.

OBSERVATION #4

The Reds didn’t hit 30 victories once in the five-year study, serving as the only National League club to fall short of .500 or better every time.

Now for the good news: Cincinnati’s loaded lineup for 2020 — featuring Eugenio Suarez (83 homers, 207 RBI the last two seasons), Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Aristides Aquino, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel — won’t be obligated to bat a pitcher in the 9th spot.

In other words, this AL-friendly group should be perfectly suited for the National League’s one-year commitment to the designated hitter rule.

Throw in the full-time presence of Trevor Bauer — anchoring a strong rotation of Luis Castillo, Sonny Grady, Wade Miley and Anthony DeScalfani — and would it shock anyone if the Reds flirted with 35 wins and the NL Central crown by season’s end?

OBSERVATION #5

Similar to the American League study, the NL five-year analysis produced a tie for Wild Card No. 2 (Brewers vs. Rockies) — at 31 victories. And just like the AL piece, there were a handful of Senior Circuit clubs at 30-30, standing on the precipice of postseason participation.

What does this say about 2020? For me, it means the MLB owners and players still have time to hammer out an expanded playoff format — mushrooming from five teams per league to seven or eight clubs making the final cut.

Our general attitude: For a surreal season like this … the more, the merrier.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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