Year In Review : 2008 National League

O ff the field...

The chairman and richest man in the world, Bill Gates, officially retired as the chairman of Microsoft Corporation on June 27 to concentrate on philanthropy.

During most of August countries from around the world took part in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing, China. More than 10,000 athletes competed in 302 events covering 28 different sports and most memorable for all who watched were the records: 43 new world records and 132 Olympic records were set.

I n the American League...

The end of Yankee Stadium, it almost does not seem possible to imagine baseball without the House That Ruth Built, but 2008 marked the final season in what can arguably be considered the single most historic stadium in all the sporting world.

The 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays finished four games shy of a 100-loss season and in last place of the East. This year was truly their Cinderella story as they changed their name to the Tampa Bay Rays then took a payroll that was $160+ million dollars less than the New York Yankees to a first place finish in the East are in the post season every current major league franchise has now been to the playoffs at least once.

Six months of baseball wasn't enough in the Central to determine who would receive the final playoff spot. The White Sox defeated the Indians, 5-1, on the final scheduled day of the regular season while the Twins beat the Royals, 6-0, to keep the Twins a half-game ahead of Chicago in the American League Central. That half-game made it necessary for Chicago to make up a September 13th rainout against Detroit. The White Sox won the makeup game forcing a tiebreaker game which they also won to truly earn a sport in the postseason.

I n the National League...

Shea Stadium opened for business on April 17, 1964. More than forty former players and managers were on hand to watch the New York Mets close out their regular season in what would become the final game in Shea Stadium history — for the second successive year, they were eliminated by the Florida Marlins. For the record, the last out of the last game at Shea was recorded at 5:05 p.m. ET.

Washington D.C. officially welcomed the game back home by christening Nationals Park in 2008. A few hours after the President of the United States delivered the first pitch, Ryan Zimmerman sent everyone home happy with the season's first walk-off home run.

The Rays made it to the postseason on virtually no payroll (29th overall), could the Marlins (30th overall) setup a possible "Alligator Alley" Series? The Fish stayed in the race for one-hundred fifty-seven games and finished one Jorge Cantu home run away from having four infielders with thirty-plus round trippers.

A round the League...

Cubs versus White Sox in Chicago. Angels versus Dodgers in Los Angeles. No New York team for first time in postseason history since 1993! The Devil Rays, oops, who are now called the Rays, with a payroll which if doubled would not break the top ten beating out both the Red Sox & Yankees. The 2008 regular season was truly one for the books or should we say Baseball Almanac...

Josh Hamilton put on a home run slugging display that was simply beyond phenomenal during the 2008 Home Run Derby. MLB.com columnist Mychael Urban said the balls hit by Hamilton, "bordered on ridiculous" and we could not agree more.

The trade deadline used to be a thing of excitement; would your team get a big slugger, another ace, a dominant bullpen pitcher, a solid fielder, or some other piece of their postseason puzzle. The past few years have been a let down for most teams as big names did not seem to change, 2008 was different as these stars changed to new constellations: Ken Griffey, Jr., Rich Harden, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia & Mark Teixeira.

"Baseball never promises you a happy ending. In fact, it braces you for failure more than success, so that you fully appreciate the latter. There are 30 teams, and seven of those have advanced to the postseason; the Twins or White Sox loom as the eighth and last. Baseball dooms you to two failures in every three at-bats on average, if you're lucky. And so it goes for ballparks: No Major League stadium ever has gone out a world champ, and thus there will be no last hurrah at either New York yard." - Sportswriter Mark Newman on MLB.com (09/29/2008, It's a wonderful world in baseball)

2008 National League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Arizona

122

Batting Average

Atlanta

.364

Doubles

Houston

46

Pittsburgh

Hits

New York

204

Home Runs

Philadelphia

48

On Base Percentage

Atlanta

.470

RBI

Philadelphia

146

Runs

Florida

125

Slugging Average

St. Louis

.653

Stolen Bases

Colorado

68

Total Bases

St. Louis

342

Triples

New York

19

2008 National League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Milwaukee

7

ERA

New York

2.53

Games

New York

86

Saves

Houston

44

Shutouts

Milwaukee

3

Milwaukee

Strikeouts

San Francisco

265

Winning Percentage

San Francisc

.783

Wins

Arizona

22

2008 National League

Team Standings

Philadelphia Phillies

92 70 0 .568

--

$98,269,881

New York Mets

89 73 0 .549

3

$138,293,378

Florida Marlins

84 77 0 .522

$21,836,500

Atlanta Braves

72 90 0 .444

20

$102,424,018

Washington Nationals

59 102 0 .366

32½

$54,961,000

Chicago Cubs

97 64 0 .602 --

$118,595,833

Milwaukee Brewers

90 72 0 .556

$81,004,167

Houston Astros

86 75 0 .534

11

$88,930,415

St. Louis Cardinals

86 76 0 .531

11½

$100,624,450

Cincinnati Reds

74 88 0 .457

23½

$74,277,685

Pittsburgh Pirates

67 95 0 .414

30½

$49,365,283

Los Angeles Dodgers

84 78 0 .519 --

$118,536,038

Arizona Diamondbacks

82 80 0 .506

2

$66,202,713

Colorado Rockies

74 88 0 .457

10

$68,655,500

San Francisco Giants

72 90 0 .444 12

$76,904,500

San Diego Padres

63 99 0 .389 21

$73,677,617

2008 National League Final Standings



Phillies slugger Ryan Howard set a Major League / National League record in 2007 for strikeouts in a season when he reached the one-hundred ninety-nine mark. A year later he tied his own record , but lost the overall mark in the National League when Mark Reynolds eclipsed for the first time in history the two-hundred strikeout plateau on his way to a new major league mark of two-hundred four ( Ryan kept the National League strikeout record for left-handed batters though).

Did you know that three National League Cycles were hit during the 2008 regular season (the most since 2005): Mark Kotsay on August 14, Cristian Guzman on August 28 and Stephen Drew on September 1?

A few notable National League feats in 2008 included: John Smoltz joining the 3,000 Strikeouts Club, Greg Maddux winning his 350th career game, Ken Griffey, Jr. hitting his 600th career home run, .

Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac1h
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