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MLB All-Star Game Review: Can Losing Teams Recover Post All-Star Break?

MLB All-Star Game Review: Can Losing Teams Recover Post All-Star Break?

As fans assemble in Minnesota to watch their favorite baseball players battle each other in the only significant All-Star game in professional sports, it’s worth taking a moment to evaluate the outlook of the league’s divisions for the rest of the season.

Are some teams as good as out? Can even the lowliest team rise to playoff content in the second half? Create a betting account now to get into all the baseball betting action and read on for more on what history tells us about the possibilities in the MLB standings, post-All-Star break.

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Can Teams Challenge for the Playoffs After the All-Star Break?

With the 162-game MLB season past the halfway mark whenever the All-Star break comes around, it goes without saying that the teams with the better records in baseball will generally have the advantage in terms of making the postseason. But how firm is that rule? Do all teams that are doing well going into the break make it to October?

[sc:MLB240banner ]In a study conducted from 1996 to 2009 (wild-card era), teams with an outright division lead at the All-Star break entered the playoffs 73 percent of the time.

Teams with losing records had a difficult time in making the playoffs. Only two teams with sub-.500 records at the break have managed to sneak into the postseason, namely the Houston Astros in 1997 (43-45) and the Minnesota Twins in 2003 (44-49). And they had the fortune of chasing the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals, who were no playoff regulars themselves.

Since 2010, all teams that qualified for the playoffs except two had winning records at the All-Star break. The two teams that were able to break into the postseason had .500 records namely the Los Angeles Dodgers last year (47-47) and the Oakland Athletics in 2012 (43-43).

All told, this doesn’t bold well for the 13 teams that are currently sitting below .500, or for the other two (Yankees and Indians) who are sitting at an even 47-47.

Dodgers’ Second Half Charge

Yasiel Puig

Last year, the Dodgers were as many as 9 ½ games back of the division leaders Arizona Diamondbacks but were able to claw their way back, heading into the break just 2 ½ games out of the division lead. The All-Star game may have provided the teams with a three-day break but the Dodgers’ momentum continued right after as they went 45-23 after the break and won the NL West by a whopping 11 games as the rest of their rivals collapsed down the stretch.

Team June 21, 2013 All-Star Break, 2013 Final Standings
Arizona Diamondbacks 40-33 50-45 81-81
Los Angeles Dodgers 30-42 47-47 92-70 (NL West winners)

Much of the credit in the Dodgers’ comeback must be given to outfielder Yasiel Puig. Puig who signed a $42 million seven year contract in 2012, was brought in from the minors on June 3 to shake up a lethargic Dodgers team which was severely underperforming despite a huge $239 million being spent on its lineup.

He had an immediate impact as he hit four homers in his first five games as he became only the second player in the modern era to achieve such a feat. Puig went on to amass more records in his rookie season as he finished the year with a .319 batting clip in 104 games with 19 HRs and 42 RBIs.

Create a betting account now and see if you can predict who will win the MLB title this season.

Oakland’s Unlikely Rise to the Top

Yoenis Cespedes

If the Dodgers built a strong team with the help of huge money, the Oakland Athletics relied on their front office savvy to build a playoff contender. However, at one point during the 2012 season, the Athletics were not a playoff team by any means.

They were 13 games back of the Texas Rangers on June 30 and were basically out of the playoff race. Just like the Dodgers however, they were able to gather some momentum heading into the break, winning six of their next seven games as they entered the break with an even 43-43 record, still nine games back of the Rangers.

Team June 30, 2012 All-Star Break Final Standings
Texas Rangers 50-29 52-34 93-69
Oakland Athletics 37-42 43-43 94-68 (AL West champs)

What happened next was a stunner as the Athletics went 51-25 after the break as they overhauled the Rangers’ huge lead in the AL West beating them by just a game on the final day of the regular season. Oakland was just the third team in major league history to win a division or a pennant and spend exactly just one day in sole possession of first place, joining the 2006 Twins and the 1951 New York Giants.

Motivation was a primary factor in the A’s unexpected rise to the top as people doubted them from reaching the playoffs, let alone posting a winning record. Some experts even predicted the A’s would finish the season with at least 100 losses. But the players used that to their advantage as they played without any sort of pressure on them.

Team chemistry also was a crucial factor for the Athletics. In 2012, the A’s had the second lowest payroll in the league at $59.5 million. Known for his Moneyball exploits, general manager Billy Beane once again had to dig deep to assemble a team that was capable of going toe to toe with the big boys such as the Rangers and the Yankees.

The players on the Oakland squad all had a chip on their shoulders, trying to prove that they belonged in the league. And as the wins kept piling on, their belief became even stronger. Their bond became tighter as evidenced by their player celebrations like the pie in the face after a player hits a walk-off.

If team camaraderie was the reason behind the success of Oakland, the opposite was the case with the Boston Red Sox in 2011.

Boston’s Epic Meltdown

David Ortiz

The Boston Red Sox had a solid start to the 2011 season posting a 55-35 record at the All-star break, a game ahead of their rivals, the New York Yankees (53-35) and six games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays (49-41).

Team All-Star Break September 3, 2011 Final Standings
Boston Red Sox 55-35 84-54 90-72
New York Yankees 53-35 84-53 97-65 (AL East champs)
Tampa Bay Rays 49-41 75-63 91-71 (AL Wildcard)

With a deep lineup, the Red Sox seemed to be headed to another playoff appearance. Although they were locked in a tight battle for the AL East title with the Yankees, the Red Sox were 9 ½ games ahead of the Rays in the wild card race with 25 games remaining on their schedule.

What happened next was a collapse like no other going 6-19 in their last 25 games. The Rays on the other hand went 16-8 in that same stretch as they beat the Red Sox by a game for that vital wild card spot.

Can the Red Sox collapse be attributed to the All-Star break? Up to September 3, the Red Sox were 29-19 after the break so it’s hard to say that the break affected them, but their post all-star break record when computed completely was a disappointing 35-37 slate so the argument can also be made that they were a different team at the second half of the season.

Much of the blame however on the Red Sox meltdown shall be pinned on the players themselves and their apparent disunity and disloyalty that turned a supposed 100-win season into a season without even a playoff appearance.

The Verdict

It’s surprisingly tough to recover from a tough first half of an MLB campaign. Still, if teams have built some momentum even before the All-Star break, it may be possible to carry that good form into the second half and advance to the playoffs.

Ultimately, the ones who will decide the teams’ fate in their playoff charge will be the players themselves. It is a long season. The All-Star break provides the teams a chance to recharge their batteries and refocus on the task at hand. It will help the team but it is still not the determining factor on whether they qualify for the playoffs or not. They still have to come out and play in the second half of the season.

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Joel
Written by Joel

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