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Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Does first place now mean anything?

By David Schoenfield

What's the value in being in first place on May 1? I'm sure the Angels and Blue Jays will say -- with hope -- that it doesn't mean much of anything, that baseball is a marathon and not a sprint.

Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Info looked up the 102 division champions since 1996 and found that 53 of them were in first place on May 1 (51 percent). Last year, however, only the Nationals were leading on May 1 and went on to win their division. You remember Cleveland, right?

In fact, since 2009 only eight of 24 eventual division winners were leading on May 1, so while a fast start is important, the six teams leading now probably should print their playoff tickets just yet.