Pittsburgh Pirates fans are familiar with a second half collapse.
The 2011 team was contending in July, thanks mostly to a weak division. That team wasn’t really a strong contender, and ended up fading down the stretch. The 2012 team was much better than the 2011 team, which made the second half collapse even worse.
We may be seeing The Collapse from the other side of the equation this year. At the end of June, the Milwaukee Brewers were 51-33 and had a 6.5 game lead in the NL Central. They were eight games up over the Pirates. It looked like they were going to run away with the NL Central, leaving everyone else competing for the Wild Card spot. Since that time, they’ve gone 26-38, which is a .406 winning percentage. To put that in comparison, the Pirates had a .378 winning percentage the final three months of the 2011 season, and a .435 winning percentage in 2012 (although they were good in July, and horrible the final two months).
The Brewers might not be collapsing as much as the Pirates did in 2011-12, but the effect is the same. Milwaukee has gone from a 6.5 game lead in the Central to falling 1.5 games back from the second Wild Card spot.
Meanwhile, the Pirates are doing the opposite of a collapse. They were 42-40 at the end of June, sitting eight games back in the NL Central and two games back from the second Wild Card spot. Now they’re sitting 2.5 games back in the NL Central and 1.5 games up in the second Wild Card spot.
The Pirates are doing a lot of this by beating up on the teams they should be beating — specifically the teams with losing records. That’s not automatic, as we saw with the Cardinals against the Reds last week, and as we’ve seen with Milwaukee in the second half. I’m not sure if their success will translate over against contending teams. I don’t know if beating the Cubs and Phillies means they’ll be able to make a run in the playoffs. What I do know is that it’s nice to see things from the other side of The Collapse, after watching it happen two years in a row, and then watching Pirates fans living in fear of it all season in 2013. It’s nice that the Pirates are on the right side of this type of situation.
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