Down to the Nut-Cutting
I thought I would do a quick recap of the standings and give everyone my thoughts on the playoff picture.
Let’s start with the AL East.
This division is usually a given. You pencil in the Yankees and possibly either Boston or Tampa Bay as a Wild Card and move on.
Well folks, there is a new kid in town. That would be Baltimore. These guys secured their first winning season in 15 years on Sunday. Their 82nd win still has them in the thick of the AL East pennant race and currently holds the second Wild Card spot. Their remaining schedule opponents has a combined .478 winning percentage this year so there is no reason the Orioles can’t finish strong and hold on to a playoff spot. Their greatest challenge to finishing the season will be the last series against the Rays at Tampa.
Looking ahead at the Yankee’s schedule their upcoming weekend series at home against the Oakland A’s could prove to be the deciding factor for not only the AL East pennant but the outcome of the Wild Card race as well. The Toronto Blue Jays have played the Yankees well this year with the Yankees holding a slim margin of 6-5 in wins over the Jays. The two teams have 7 games left. If the Jays continue their trend and win 3 or 4 of those games that could play huge in the final closing games of the season towards the AL East crown. I am not so sure the Jays can be spoilers however.
My prediction: Both the Yankees and Orioles will finish 9-7 their last 16 and the Yanks hold onto the pennant and the Orioles hold onto one of the wild card spots.
At the time of this article, the Sox are due to play a makeup game against the number two team in the Central, Detroit Tigers. Their current 2 game lead could be cut to 1 game by the end of the day.
Either way they have 7 games left against opponents that are also playing for a playoff spot. They have 3 games at Los Angeles Angels and 4 games against the Tampa Bay Rays. All 7 games are going to be tough decisive games.
The Tigers on the other hand have a 3 game set with Oakland this week and then it is nobody but Minnesota and Kansas City for the remaining 13 games. They have played really well against both of those clubs this year and there is no reason, barring injury, that they can’t continue that trend.
So while Detroit has to play Oakland three games, Chicago has to play a combined seven games against Tampa and Los Angeles.
My prediction: The winner of today’s game wins the Central. I feel a three game deficit will be too much to overcome this late in the season. However, when they play them heads up today and win, the Tigers have it to only a one game deficit and they should be able to take the lead. Whichever of the two that does Not Win the Central will be left out in the cold and will not take one of the two wild card spots.
In my opinion this is the strongest division of the AL this year. We are possibly looking at three of the four teams making the playoffs. And it is not like some team(s) has to have a total meltdown like the Red Sox did last year. The Rangers are in the playoffs and I am pretty certain will be the AL West pennant winners.
But here is the interesting story; the Rangers play seven more games against Oakland and three more against LAA. This bodes well for the Orioles and the slimmest of chance maybe for the Rays.
This series of games remaining in the Wild West will be the deciding factor for at least 1 WC spot and maybe two.
The Tigers, Angels, Athletics, Orioles and Rays, and Yankees, playoff chase all depend on Texas and how they finish the season. While many will say the Yankees have their destination in their own hands, they do have to worry about the Orioles winning the pennant. If that happens they have to make sure that Oakland and LAA does not finish with a better record. That is why I say Texas is a key boggle in the playoff chase; all their remaining games have impact on other teams.
Ron Washington and the Rangers are in a position that many managers and teams wish they could be in this time of the year. It is possible they lock up their division and homefield throughout the ALCS. And if they do Ron will be presented with a scenario he did not have to deal with last season. He could actually rest some guys to set up his roster for the run in the playoffs. But, if he does and it is before they finish their games against all the contenders he is going to draw the ire and bitching from the other teams.
In my opinion; after two straight World Series losses he needs to do what is right for his team and let the others whine should he rest guys.
Even with the second best record in the AL, Oakland has the hardest road left in my opinion. Thirteen of their last sixteen games are all against playoff contenders. They have three with Detroit, three with the Yankees and seven with Texas. Those seven games with Texas are obviously their biggest games remaining but I don’t see them winning enough of them to change the current divisional standings. I do however think they win enough to finish in a WC spot.
The Los Angeles Angels have several things going for them to propel them into the playoffs. First, a trio of Trout, Trombo and Pujols. Second they have six games remaining against Seattle. It does not help that they have six left against Texas and three with the White Sox but they do have six with the Mariners. And they are 1 of a few teams that boasts a winning record against the Rangers so far this year. However, I can’t get over the feeling the deep hole they dug early in the season is still going to come back and bite them in the rear here late in the season. I can’t see them winning enough games to push them into one of the WC spots and I definitely do not see them winning the pennant.
My Prediction: Texas wins the pennant, Oakland takes the first wild card spot.
AL EAST: YANKEES WIN PENNANT , BALTIMORE TAKES WC#2
AL CENTRAL: SOX WIN , THEY WIN PENNANT.TIGERS OUT IN THE COLD
AL WEST: TEXAS WINS PENNANT, OAKLAND WINS WC#1
I will recap the NL later in the week.
Post Script, updated 1 October 2012
After predicting the White Sox to win the Central, 13 games ago, they went on a tear. Or should I say rip? They ripped the seat right of their playoff hopes by losing 10 of their last 13 games.
Last season is still fairly fresh in baseball writer’s and fans minds, so the Red Sox and Braves melt downs last year still loom as the worst of all time. But, how do you go from leading your division by 3 games to losing 10 of 13?
Two of those series were to cellar dwellers. After winning the makeup game on September 17 against the Tigers, a game in which led me to pick them to win the central, they turned around and lost 2 of 3 to Kansas City. The next series they were swept in Anaheim. Then they lost 2 of 3 to the Indians, at home. And to finish things off right, they lost 3 of 4 to Tampa Bay at home.
The Tigers on the other hand have won 9 of their last 14 and have taken a 3 game lead in the Central.
So, in the future when people talk about classic melt downs, let’s all remember; the White Sox did a 6 game turn around in 13 games.
The Red Sox and Braves both lost out on the last day. The White Sox are through dealing now. Detroit’s magic number is 1.
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