A classic Simpsons Treehouse of Horror scene is the one posted above where Homer ends up buying Bart a cursed Krusty the Clown doll for his birthday. If you’re not familiar with it, watch the clip and come back. We’ll still be here waiting.
The exchange between Homer and the Evil Shopkeeper kept popping in my head when I was looking at the Senators’ 2013 season and their place in the context of the Eastern League’s history.
• The Senators’ offensive struggles continue to sink the team batting average lower and lower. That, however, is nothing new. Over the last five seasons, the Senators have perennially ranked at the bottom of the Eastern League.
2013: .240 (12th)
2012: .253 (12th)
2011: .249 (11th)
2010: .251 (10th)
2009: .251 (11th)
• Despite those shortcomings, the Senators made the playoffs in 2010, 2011, and currently sit two games ahead of Richmond for the final playoff spot in 2013.
• After the disastrous homestand to start the season, the Senators’ pitching staff has been the cream of the crop in the Eastern League as their team ERA has been the lowest in the league. But with 11 games left to play, the B-Mets’ team ERA is only a few hundredths of a run behind the Senators. To retain their current ranking, the Senators need to allow only two runs or less than the B-Mets do over the next 99 innings (or so).
• Having just wrapped up their first division title since 2000, what does Binghamton really have to play for at this point? Manager Pedro Lopez’ main concern for the final week of the season will be getting his starters so many ups and his relievers steady work.
• It’s been 57 years since an Eastern League team has finished first (divisionally or overall) with the worst batting average. Led by manager Dick Carter, the 1956 Schenectady Blue Jays used a great pitching staff to dominate to an 84-54 regular season record. That kind of history doesn’t bode well.
• Despite their issues at the plate, Schenectady swept both Binghamton and Reading in the playoffs to win the championship.
• Going back as far as complete pitching statistics exist (1965), seven teams have led the league in pitching and still failed to make the playoffs.
1996 Norwich Navigators (71-70)
1982 Bristol Red Sox (75-65)
1977 Norwich Navigators (72-67)
1975 Waterbury Dodgers (77-59)
1973 Quebec Carnavals (65-72)
1967 Williamsport Mets (73-66)
1965 Elmira Pioneers (83-55)
• Look closely at those years. There has been only one team that hasn’t reached the postseason since the Eastern League stopped splitting the season in halves (after 1982) to determine the playoff matchups.
• Since 1983, only three teams have been both last in batting average and first in pitching ERA.
• All three teams qualified for the playoffs and won their first round matchup to advance to the championship (with one winning – 1984 Vermont Reds).