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The notion of strong-finishing teams thriving in the playoffs is one of those baseball platitudes that sound so cliché it cannot possibly be true. But it turns out that one might actually be spot on. Recent fall history reveals the team that holds up the trophy at the end of October usually started its postseason joyride in September.The past 10 World Series champions have combined to go 178-105 in September and any regular-season games that spill over into October. That comes out to a .629 winning percentage, or 102-win pace over the course of a full season.The 2003 Cardinals, may be the most bizarre World Series winner of all time, went 12-17 in the final month, finished 83-78 overall and then, behind Albert Pujols, David Eckstein and a million pitching chances by Tony LaRussa, won the whole thing. The next-worst September team of the past 10 years was the 2007 Red Sox, who went 16-11 – still 96-win pace over a full season.Oh, if you were curious, here’s how each recent World Series champion fared in the final month (with their overall record):2011 Cardinals: 18-8 (90-72)2010 Giants: 19-10 (92-70)2009 Yankees: 20-11 (103-59)2008 Phillies: 17-8 (92-70)2007 Red Sox: 16-11 (96-66)2006 Cardinals: 12-17 (83-78)2005 White Sox: 19-12 (99-63)2004 Red Sox: 21-11 (98-64)2003 Marlins: 18-8 (91-71)2002 Angels: 18-9 (99-63)
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