Worst to first: NLCS clubs make history

Worst to first: NLCS clubs make history

When Colorado and Arizona take the field Thursday night at Chase Field for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, baseball history will be made.

The Rockies and Diamondbacks are among the six teams in Major League history which finished last one season and reached the League Championship Series the next, but Thursday will be the first time two such teams have faced each other in a League Championship Series.

The two teams finished tied for last in the NL West last season with 76-86 records, 12 games behind San Diego and Los Angeles. This season, the Diamondbacks finished first in the division, while the Rockies won the Wild Card.

The Rockies reached the NLCS for the first time in franchise history by sweeping the Phillies in the NLDS. The Diamondbacks swept the Cubs, another team that was in position to go from last in the division one year to the LCS the next had it gotten past Arizona.

The Cubs are done, but history still awaits when the Rockies and Diamondbacks square off in their best-of-seven series.

"Both [teams] came a long way to get here," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "After last year, not many people gave either much of a chance, but these are two good, young teams that worked very hard to get [to the NLCS]."

The Rockies and Diamondbacks join very select company:

•  The 1991 Atlanta Braves, a year after finishing last (65-97) in the NL West, went 94-68 to win the division, then beat Pittsburgh in the NLCS before losing to Minnesota in the World Series.

•  Those '91 Twins made a similar last to first leap. The '90 Twins finished 74-88 and in the American League West Division cellar, 29 games behind Oakland. When the Twins and Braves met in that memorable 1991 World Series, it was the first and only time in the 20th century two teams that had finished last the year before met in the World Series.

Rockies-D-backs Tale of the Tape
2007 regular season statistics
COL
CATEGORY
ARZ
.280
AVG
.250
.354
OBP
.321
.276
AVG RISP
.249
860
Runs Scored
712
171
HR
171
100
SB
109
31
CS
24
.989
Fielding %
.983
68
Errors
108
4.32
ERA
4.13
3.85
Bullpen ERA
3.95
39
Saves
51
19
Blown Saves
15
90
Wins
90
19
One-run wins
32

•  The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies made it to the NLCS and then the World Series one year after finishing dead last in the NL East, 70-92 and 26 games out of first place.

•  The only other team to go from the cellar to the LCS in one year was the 1998 San Diego Padres. The year before that team finished in the NL West cellar, 76-86 and 14 games behind San Francisco. The '98 Padres finished the regular season 98-64, good for first place in the division, then beat Houston in the NLDS and Atlanta in the NLCS to advance to the World Series.

That '97 San Francisco team that lost to Florida in the NLDS had finished last in the NL West in 1996. Arizona also went from last place in the NL West in '98 (33 games back) to division winners in '99, but lost to New York in the NLDS.

But the other four ('91 Braves, '91 Twins, '93 Phillies and '98 Padres), and now the Rockies and Diamondbacks, are the only teams to go from last place one year and make the LCS the next.

Unfortunately for one of the participating teams in this season's NLCS, they will be making more history when the series ends.

Since all four previous teams that made the jump from cellar to NLCS went on to the World Series, the loser this year will become the first such team not to advance to the Fall Classic.

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.