As the title suggests, I decided to take a look at the teams competing for the NL Wild Card. The manner in which I have elected to do that is as such: I took the eight regulars from each team and determined their NRAA*. There is, I must admit, some uncertainty on my part who some of the starters are at this point and I would greatly appreciate it if you, the reader, could point out the errors in the comments. Obviously, there are a number of problems with this method. The most glaring is the omission of pitching. Perhaps that will be the subject of a future article. Without further ado:
The Florida Marlins and to a lesser extent the New York Mets have separated from the field in terms of NRAA. Florida's NRAA per 100 games is better than that per 162 of Phillies, Astros and Nationals. That Florida is in third place in the Wild Card standings in spite of that is truly staggering. After all, when you think of the Florida Marlins, the first two words that come to mind aren't "terrible pitching." How they have managed to end up where they are is worth looking into at another time.
More amazing than Florida's misfortune relative to their apparent excellence is Philadelphia's position as leader of the pack relative to their apparent mediocrity. How it came to pass that a team employing both Jimmy Rollins and David Bell as every day players is on the cusp of a playoff berth is somewhat beyond me. Furthermore, it isn't as though Philadelphia's pitching rotation is of a similar composition to that of the Braves of the 1990's. I would look for them to fall from their perch atop the Wild Card standings and soon.
Both of these unusual occurrences pale in comparison to the fact that Christian Guzman is an everyday player for a team with playoff aspirations. I am at a complete loss for words. Negative Fifty Five Point Two Six. Wow. The Nationals are so weak at shortstop, they wish they had Jimmy Rollins. That's how bad it is in D.C. That being said, the Nationals are actually quite good aside from Guzman... and Preston Wilson. That was a great trade. What were they thinking?
The Houston Astros don't throw out a particularly impressive starting eight with the exception of Ensberg, but their appearance near the top of the Wild Card standings can be pretty easily attributed to their excellent starting rotation. Case in point: Roger Clemens pitched a complete game and allowed two runs. His ERA went up. Roy Oswalt's not half bad, either.
Back to the Mets, who I mentioned at the beginning. When you consider the Mets' prowess in the field and at the plate coupled (even if we are talking about three things) with a starting rotation that features Pedro Martinez, you have to like their chances as the season winds down.
To summarize briefly, I like the Marlins to take the Wild Card, but I wouldn't discount the Mets or Astros. As for the Nationals and Phillies, there's always next year.
*I employ a significantly different process for calculating NRAA, but it is essentially the same statistic. EQRAA and Rate are used in place of MLV and Rate2, what with their superiority and all.