Tristan Cockcroft has been leading a persistent pack of contenders all season long, and his team has been the best Tout NL team all September, so it’s going to take a bad hiccup for him not to repeat his 2012 Tout Wars title. That said, he’s vulnerable to losing a few points total in Runs and HR, but could also gain a couple in RBI. With a six point lead he’s vulnerable to collapse, not so much to someone catching him.
Todd Zola’s offense has spluttered in September, but he’s had the fourth best team this month. He has to get hot to get past 80 points, but he has quite a few places to gain (and lose), and then hope that Tristan falls to him.
Mike Gianella is tied with Todd at this moment. He explains his situation:
What has to go right for you to win?
On September 1, I was four points behind Tristan Cockcroft with a number of categorical indicators pointed in the right direction. If you had asked me this question then, I would have given a shorter answer that would have had more confidence behind it.
As I write this on September 19, circumstances have changed to the point where I need almost everything to go rightâ€¦and a little bit to go wrong on Tristanâ€™s side to pull this off. Iâ€™ll need a big push in two of three categories (batting average, wins, saves) to get to a place where I could beat Tristan with a little help. I could try to use my swingman spot to add a seventh starter, but need runs to try to pass Steve Gardner. Additionally, the starting pitchers that are available stink; adding a garbage time pitcher to chase a win seems like a waste of time at best.
What could go wrong that would cause you to lose?
The â€œcould go wrongâ€ part already happened. The last two and half weeks havenâ€™t been kind to me on the pitching side, with a mere five wins instead of the 8-10 I was expecting when I traded for pitching and started rolling six starters out there. Granted, my 4.37 ERA this month is the worst in the league, but some of that was concentrated in two bad starts from Tyson Ross and Patrick Corbin. Two more wins would not only be good for another point, but would put me in realistic hailing distance of two other teams in wins.
Now, any setback is the â€œcould go wrongâ€ that will cause me to lose. If Tristanâ€™s offense continues to pound the ball, I lose (I canâ€™t win without his team slumping or the teams behind him picking up the pace). If I donâ€™t score runs or hit for a .300+ batting average, I lose. I need to either run the table in wins or have all three of my relievers each get 3-4 saves the rest of the way while the teams ahead of me donâ€™t.
None of this is impossible. In fact, the trades I made in late August positioned my team to do exactly what Iâ€™m describing. But they havenâ€™t done it for the first 18 days of September, so my team not only has to do what I thought they would do this month but they have to exceed expectations. The law of averages says that they could exceed expectations, but this is whatâ€™s known as the gamblerâ€™s fallacy. Maybe my team will exceed its baseline level of performance during the last 11 days of the regular season, but itâ€™s not more likely simply because they performed poorly over the first half of this month.
Steve Gardner is in the thick of it, too, though he hasn’t had a strong September. He is locked in most of the hitting categories, but could pass Lenny Melnick in BA for a gain of one, and has WHIP and Strikeout points to potentially add.
Phil Hertz was in the thick of it until recently, but his September has been a disaster. He explains:
Iâ€™m assuming Iâ€™m out of it so Iâ€™ll address what went wrong.Â On August 31, I was in second; two points out.Â Since then, Iâ€™ve lost (or continued to lose) for significant amounts of playing time Starling Marte, Yonder Alonso, Dominic Brown, and Dexter Fowler.Â The remaining players have hit approximately .185 this month â€“ that is not an exaggeration.Â The only players contributing significantly this month have been LeMahieu who is hitting .350, albeit without much else, and Bogusevic, who has 3 homers.Â I believe I have 7 homers so far this month.Â The net: Iâ€™ve lost 10 hitting points.Â While Iâ€™d like to think thereâ€™s something I could have done about it, in a league with such a deep player pool penetration, thereâ€™s not much I can do except have a couple of more drinks at night.