Playing with Numbers: Do bad teams shut it down in September?

Fantasy owners are always looking for that edge, that one statistic or trend that can keep them one step ahead of the competition so they can claim fantasy glory. In some cases, this can be the difference between finishing in the money or being on the outside looking in. So when an owner discovers the tasty morsel that Alfonso Soriano has a career batting average of only .267 in September, his greedy side jumps to the forefront. He thinks to himself that he'll trade Soriano away for Lance Berkman, a career .313 September hitter, and earn himself a few extra points in the batting average category. In most years, that owner would probably be smiling come October. However, in the ninth month of 2007, Soriano hit an impressive .320 while Berkman languished, hitting only at a .269 clip. So much for that, right? This doesn't make that stat any less accurate, but it does point out that there's no such thing as a sure thing.

That's why I was amused this past week while watching various games when I heard announcers make some bold statements about how they saw the rest of the season playing out. I learned that teams with nothing to play for likely will pack it in, and put up lousy numbers the rest of the way. I also found out that teams out of the playoff race have that pressure taken off them, and should begin to relax more, and therefore, put up better numbers from this point forward. Well, these broad generalizations can't both be true. But is there a chance that one of them might be true, giving the savvy fantasy owner insight into an undiscovered nugget of fantasy gold?