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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals early September results mean next to nothing

The weekend sweep by Atlanta over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium has put many of the team’s fans into a frenzy of worry and doubt. Coming into Monday’s action, the Cardinals had gone just 5-5 over their last ten games and 7-5 overall in September.

An insightful post on this blog Monday noted that of the six division leaders across MLB, only the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had a record better than 6-4 over their most recent ten contests.

That got me to wondering how recent world champions fared during the start of September and through the remainder of the regular season. Results from this decade follow.

Of course, not taken into account are such relevant comparison factors as home-road, quality of opponent, current standings or really anything other than simple won-loss record.

The first columns show the teams’ records for the first dozen games in September and the next columns denote their results from September 1 through the end of the regular season. The far right column indicates a comparison of the two – whether the team played better or worse as the season drew to a close.

Compared to this decade’s World Series winners, the current Cardinals at 7-5 this month to-date would tie for the third-worst September start, following the 2001 Diamondbacks and the 2004 Cardinals and tied with last year’s champs from Philadelphia.

It is also worth noting that only the 2001 Arizona club and the 2008 Phillies finished the season with a better closing record than what they registered over their first dozen September games. In other words, seven of the nine last World Series champions played worse ball as the season’s end drew near than they did during the first dozen games of September.

This is not hard to rationalize as most of these clubs still finished strongly. Only the 2000 Yankees and 2004 Cards actually posted a losing regular-season record in September/October.

Perhaps some began to rest more regulars as their post-season spots were assured. Maybe one or two even let up a little bit. Yet when the October bell rang, each answered, winning the most important 11 games of them all.

Are there any more conclusions to draw here relative to the 2009 Cardinals? No, I don’t think there are.

Regular season wins, first 12 games of September and September 1 through end of regular season, World Series winner, 2000-2008

1st 12 in Sept W L Pct. 9/1 to end W L Pct. Better/worse
2009 St. Louis 7 5 0.583
WS winner WS winner
2008 Philadelphia 7 5 0.583 Philadelphia 17 8 0.680 Better
2007 Boston 9 3 0.750 Boston 16 11 0.593 Worse
2006 St. Louis 6 6 0.500 St. Louis 12 17 0.414 Worse
2005 White Sox 8 4 0.667 White Sox 19 12 0.613 Worse
2004 Boston 9 3 0.750 Boston 21 11 0.656 Worse
2003 Florida 10 2 0.833 Florida 18 8 0.692 Worse
2002 Anaheim 11 1 0.917 Anaheim 18 9 0.667 Worse
2001 Arizona 4 8 0.333 Arizona 14 13 0.519 Better
2000 Yankees 9 3 0.750 Yankees 13 18 0.419 Worse
Total 73 35 0.676 Total 148 107 0.580 Worse
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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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