What a difference a year or a season makes for both the Giants and Cardinals. Who were both clearly the two best teams in the National League in 1987 and in the Cardinals case in 1988 were fighting to stay out of last place in the NL East in 1988. A division they played in until MLB realigned in 1994 and went to three divisions in both leagues. And in the Giants case, never making a real run at the NL West title at least by the All Star break and finishing eleven games behind their arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers out of first place.
When teams when their division in MLB, especially over a 162 game schedule, unless they are very deep in talent with great chemistry and a great manager, they tend to have a lot going for them. And are able to avoid making critical mistakes during the season that costs them big games. And cost them games that might not seem big at the time, but come back to cost them in September when they’re fighting to make the playoffs or win their division. Both the Giants and Cardinals were able to avoid big mistakes and injuries in 1987. But 1988 they got hit by those things over and over and it really cost them.