Are first-place teams on Aug. 1 a lock for the playoffs?
Feeling good, Dodgers fans? Thinking about October baseball, Red Sox Nation?
Sure, you are. You can admit it. As can fans of the Tigers, A's, Braves and yes, even the Pirates. After all, it's Aug. 1 and your teams are in first place. Must be nice.
While Atlanta holds the largest lead — 11 games in the National League East — and seems a lock for the postseason, the other five first-place ballclubs have to be feeling pretty good, too.
In the American League, Boston holds a slight ½-game edge on Tampa Bay in the East, Detroit is 2½ games in front of Cleveland in the Central, and Oakland holds a four-game lead over Texas in the West.
Joining Atlanta as NL frontrunners are the LA Dodgers in the West and Pittsburgh in the Central. Both hold 2½-game leads, ahead of Arizona and St. Louis, respectively. The big story, of course, is the Pirates, who are looking to make the playoffs — and finish above .500 — for the first time since 1992.
Yes, 1992. You read that right.
So what does first place on the first day of August mean for the Braves, Pirates, Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers and A's?
Over the last 10 seasons, 44 of the 60 clubs which sat in first place on Aug. 1 made the playoffs. That's 73 percent. The only time in the last 10 years all six first-place teams on Aug. 1 advanced to the postseason was 2006.
So the statistics say 4.4 of the six teams in first on Thursday morning are headed to the playoffs ... which still leaves the door open just a little for those looking up in the standings.
Here's more positive news for those non-first-place teams.
One of the last two World Series champs did not lead its division on Aug. 1. In 2011, the Cardinals managed to win it all out of a wild-card spot.
Plus, Detroit, which lost last year's Fall Classic, wasn't in first place on Aug. 1, either.
So there's always hope, but still ... figure Atlanta is in and at least two or three out of the Pirates, Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers and A's will be playing into October, too.
Just which ones are they? Will all six make it? Will this be the first time in 10 years four teams choke?
A few things are for sure: the Marlins, Brewers, Astros, White Sox and Cubs are looking forward to football season.