MILWAUKEE Take a close look at the playoff races formulating this season, and you're likely to notice an interesting trend that has very much dictated the landscape of baseball in 2012.
First, the National League: Washington, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, St. Louis and Pittsburgh comprise the seven teams in the NL that are likely to be in the playoff hunt heading into crunch time in late September. All of them rank in the top 10 of total team ERA in baseball.
Now, the American League: Tampa Bay, Oakland, Texas, Detroit, New York, Anaheim, Baltimore and Chicago seem to be the eight primary teams. Two of those teams, plus Seattle,round out the top 10 in team ERA, baseball-wide, and all eight of them are among the top 10 team ERAs in the American League.
The correlation is not without explanation. Major league baseball in the post-steroids era has increasingly become about pitching. Without a dominant starting staff or at least one that gets dominant at the rig...