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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM

The meaning of WCGB

No, that’s not some new text-messaging abbreviation. It’s a category that’s included in the major-league standings we run in the newspaper every day. It was a new addition this season to the standings that are put out by Associated Press.

Believe it or not, the number-one question I’ve received this year, in e-mails and phone calls, is “What the heck does WCGB” mean? I’ve racked my brain and I can’t figure it out.”

I’ve explained this before, but I’m still getting the question, so here goes: It stands for “wild-card games behind.” In other words, how far behind the wild-card leader a particular team is. It didn’t mean much in April, but now that it’s almost August, it’s starting to get significant.

The Mariners, for instance, probably can’t realistically expect to use the wild-card as a route to the playoffs, because of the Red Sox-Yankees-Rays triumvirate. Two of those teams are almost certainly going to be north of 90 wins — perhaps far north. The M’s will have a much easier time catching the Angels, I’d suspect, than the second-place team in the AL East.

Contrast that with the National League, where the Rockies just surpassed the Giants to take over the wild-card lead. with a 51-42 record. If the Mariners, at 49-43, were in the National League, they’d be 1 1/2 games out of the wild card, which would obviously affect their decision-making at the trade deadline.

That’s why virtually every National League team outside the Nationals and Padres can fool themselves into thinking they’re contenders. They only have to catch the Rockies to make the playoffs. The Mariners, on the other hand, are six games behind the Yankees and Red Sox, who are tied for the AL East lead (and the wild card) with 55-37 records. The Rays are coming fast at 51-42.

It’s time to start paying attention to WCGB.

TTYL, Larry

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