Number8.jpgThe icy-cold fact is this: if the Tigers surrender the division lead — one they’ve held in some fashion since May 14 — on the last day of the season, it will be a one-of-a-kind collapse: a three-game cushion with four to play.

This miserable experience for Tigers fans, so close to the division cough-up job in Game 162 of 2006, got me to thinking how Jim Leyland‘s clubs finish. Are there any trends we can pinpoint?

For starters, I looked at his playoff teams — the 1990, ’91 and ’92 Pirates, the 1997 Marlins, and the 2006 Tigers. I focused on the last month or so of the season, starting with September 1. All in all, it’s pretty respectable. Here’s what I found out:

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • 1990: 20-12
  • 1991: 21-13
  • 1992: 22-10

Florida Marlins

  • 1997: 12-15

Detroit Tigers

  • 2006: 12-16
  • 2009: 16-15 (through Saturday night)

Being 100-percent biased by the Tigers current situation (and ’06), I expected to see poor finishes from Leyland’s clubs. But it just isn’t the case. In fact, Leyland’s two World Series teams had the worst stretch-run records of all his playoff clubs.

Ponder this, won’t you, while you enjoy your Fruit Loops — or gnash your teeth — on the final Sunday morning of the regular season?