The All-Star break has always been considered half of the baseball season, but the fact is each team has played more than half of their games a week ago. A more accurate mid-season marker for Major League Baseball would be July 4.
Right here in 2016, each team has played at least 83 games, and most will reach ninety at the All-Star break. Two clubs, the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants, have already played 85 games. By the time next Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic at Petco Park in San Diego, both teams will have completed nearly sixty percent of their seasons.
The fourth is perhaps a better indication of mid-season, but it gives a very inaccurate picture of which teams will be champions in their divisions. The teams that hold the top spot on Independence Day rarely meet again at the end of the season.
In the past five seasons, only nine division champions were in first place on July 4. The twenty-one other division champions were looking for at least one other team halfway through, and some were even up to fourth place.
In 2012, none of the teams in the first place of Fourth managed to win their division. Even more incredible, four of the division’s future champions (Detroit, Atlanta, Oakland and Baltimore) were in third place midway through the season.
The change all the way down happens less frequently, but even so more than half of the teams in last place on July 4th end up in the basement at the end of the season. Of the thirty last-placed clubs as of July 4 in the past five seasons, seventeen have ended up climbing at least one rung in their divisions.
For three of those seasons, exactly half failed to make it out of the basement. But just two seasons ago, the last six players at the midpoint have finished ahead of at least one club in their divisions.
There is a good chance that the clubs that will occupy the top on July 4 will likely be replaced at the end of the season. This fact should change the way clubs have traditionally viewed the baseball calendar.
Instead of waiting for the All-Star break in mid-July, team front offices are expected to start preparing for the second half at least a week before. First-place teams are currently less likely to finish on top than any of the teams currently chasing them, a scary thought for general managers who have so far viewed 2016 as a successful season.