There are no guarantees in baseball, which is why so many first-place MLB teams work frantically at the trade deadline to get better and thwart moves of the competition. After the blockbuster trade deadline in 2014, three division leaders that made significant moves have fallen out of first place and risk missing the playoffs.
Whether the drop can be attritbuted to team chemistry, an inevitable slump, or old-fashioned choking under pressure, it’s impossible to say. Here are the three contenders that definitely got worse despite additions to their rosters before July 31.
1. Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee’s surprising 2014 run was still firing on all cylinders on July 31, when the front office acquired slick-fielding Gerardo Parra from Arizona for a pair of minor leaguers. At the time, the Brewers controlled the NL Central with a record of 60-49 and a two-game edge over St. Louis. In fact, the Brew Crew was just two games off the pace of the Dodgers for the best record in the National League.
Since that point, Milwaukee has gone 13-17, including an eight-game losing streak that was still going as of September 4. The Brewers have dropped five games in the standings, which leaves them with a half-game lead for the second wild card spot. As it stands, the Brewers will be fighting tooth and nail to get that last playoff spot. Regarding Parra himself, the outfielder’s impact has been negligible. Maybe Milwaukee needed a bigger upgrade to stay in the race.