Right now, the Houston Astros are getting a lot of buzz on MLB odds for their amazing start, 12 games over .500 more than a quarter of the way through the 2015 campaign. However, we’ve seen a lot of teams in the past roar out to a big start and then fade as the summer temperatures rise and those not-so-amazing pitchers and hitters fall back to earth. Sometimes clubhouse chemistry implodes as well, leaving the team to fall apart. For example, the 1990 Texas Rangers got out to a 17-5 start…and then finished 20 games out of first place.
Here’s a look at some other teams that have dazzled in the opening weeks and months of the regular season, only to see it all fall apart when it came time to enter the postseason.
Teams that Led the All-Star Break MLB Odds Only To Fall Apart
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 4, 2015
1996 Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s worth noting that longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda suffered a heart attack around the All-Star break in this season and had to retire. However, Bill Russell took over managing responsibilities, and for a while the Dodgers continued to play well. However, the San Diego Padres managed to catch up to the Dodgers, and the teams fought back and forth the rest of the way, with fewer than three games separating the two clubs in the standings all the way until the end. The Dodgers still led by two games when the Padres came to town for a season-ending three-game set. The Dodgers only needed one win to clinch the National League West, but the Padres completed the sweep. The Dodgers still made the playoffs as the wild card, but the Braves swept them out of the NLDS, which means that the Dodgers finished their season by losing seven straight games.
2002 Boston Red Sox
About a third of the way through the regular season, the Boston Red Sox sat at 40-17 in 2002. They looked to be assured of a spot in the playoffs, with a 96 percent chance of qualifying. However, they only won 53 of their last 105 games, settling for a 93-69 record. In some years, they would still have made the postseason, but in the American League that year, they finished 10 ½ games behind the Eastern Division champion Yankees, and six games behind the Angels for the wild card spot (there was only one wild card in MLB that year).
2003 Seattle Mariners
Much like the Boston Red Sox in 2002, the next year saw the Mariners cruising atop the American League West with a record of 48-22 after 70 games – almost halfway through the regular season. In the division, they had a lead of 7 ½ games, and they led the Red Sox by eight games in the wild card race. However, the Mariners went into a tailspin after that, only winning 45 more games to finish – you guessed it – 93-69. The Oakland A’s ended up winning the West by three games, and the Red Sox carried off the wild card by two games. One possible reason was the average age of the Mariner team (32.2 years) and the grind of the long season.
2010 San Diego Padres
The Padres waited a little later in the season to have their collapse. In 2010, the Padres had the 29th highest payroll (out of 30) in MLB, and they had no pennant race experience to think of. However, on August 25, the Padres pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-3, and they led the division by 6 ½ games. However, the Padres would drop their next ten games and would only win 14 of their last 33. Even though they had been in first place in the National League West for 148 days, the last day of the season saw them eliminated from the postseason, as they lost to San Francisco and the Atlanta Braves won to earn the wild card.
1998 Anaheim Angels
With 19 games to play, the Anaheim Angels had opened up a 3 ½ game lead over the Texas Rangers in what had been a seasonlong see-saw affair. However, the Angels would lose 13 of those 19 – including 5 to the Rangers, who won 13 of their last 20 and took the division by 3 games.