I'm not sure if this happened yesterday or during the Pirates/Astros series, but the Pirates have officially dropped behind the Astros in Baseball Prospectus' third order win percentage.
What this means, in layman's terms, is that when considering the schedule and based on things like on base percentage, slugging percentage, and for pitchers things like K/BB ratio and home run rate and possibly ground ball rate, the Pirates are expected to have a worse run differential than the Astros, which means they're expected to have a worse record. They don't, mostly because of the pitching from the first half of the season that we can safely say now was unsustainable. In short, it's now a valid argument (with statistics to back it) that, records be damned, the Pittsburgh Pirates have played worse baseball than the Houston Astros this year.
That sign outside your window? It says, "You've just passed the Event Horizon. Welcome to the Worst Case Scenario, 2011."
A quick look at the Reverse standings and we can see that the Pirates are only 3.5 games "behind" (actually ahead) the Mariners for a Top 5 pick in next year's draft. First place in July to one of the 5 worst teams in baseball; that's enough to make anyone sick. We all know it's been an historic collapse, I think they set the MLB record for fastest descent from First Place to 10 GB (of course the Brewers assisted in that). But I never thought we would be talking Top 5 draft pick a month or two ago. If they continue their horrible play from August (and early indications are that they will), we might be talking Top 3; they're only 7 games "back" or Baltimore and 5.5 of KC. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/reversestandings/
Are there even any reasons to hope that next year will be better? That's the part that worries me most. We're still going to have the worst 6-9 batting order in the league, unless something dramatic happens. Sigh.
Very selective editing, Pat. What about the big picture? We're sticking it to Baltimore and Minnesota!
The last month has been so sad.
There are reasons to think next year will be better, of course, but the problem is that they're pretty much the exact same reasons to think that this year would be better than last year.