It’s September folks, and we’re within striking distance of playoff baseball. As of today (September 8) there are only 3 teams that are mathematically eliminated from playoff eligibility. I want to take a closer look division by division and figure out of the remaining teams in races who are the actual contenders and who are running on the fumes of their math life.
Starting in the AL West, the home of the best team in baseball – the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- we have the toughest division in baseball. There are currently three teams in playoff spots, with the Angels leading the division by 7.5 games over the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics have been on a slide going 3 – 7 over their last 10 games and have gone from leading their division and considered World Series contenders to barely holding a 2 game lead (in the loss column) in the Wild Card race over the chasing Mariners and Tigers.
In the barely worth mentioning AL East, the Baltimore Orioles are running away from the pack with a 9.5 game lead over the second place New York Yankees. Long gone (ok, at least for this season) are the days of the power house AL East. The Orioles are a good team, and quite frankly are playing above their talent level as they have been hurt by injuries at different times through the season to key players such as Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. The Toronto Blue Jays had been hot recently, having won 5 in a row, but after two crushing losses to the last place Boston Red Sox over the weekend, their very slim chances have become non-existant.
The AL Central is an interesting story as the allegedly dominant Detroit Tigers are looking quite ordinary over the past month and a half and have lost their division lead to the upstart Kansas City Royals. Yeah, I just said the Royals are leading the division, and they’re even fun to watch – I’m sure hell is about to freeze over. This will be a tight race though, as the Royals and Tigers are 5 – 5, and 6 – 4 over their past 10 games; and only 1 game separates them in the division.
If you’re wondering what’s going to happen down the stretch for the playoff push, you need to forget the Orioles and Angels and focus on the following teams: the Mariners, Tigers, Royals, Athletics. I will say that the Yankees, Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians are capable of wreaking havoc on the contenders in terms of spoling the chances of other teams.
Of the four teams mentioned, either the Tigers or Royals are guaranteed to win the division to make the playoffs, while the runner up is not certain of a Wild Card spot. The Tigers and Athletics have the best rotations in baseball. Look for both of them to get into the playoffs. Book the Royals to grab the second Wild Card spot behind the Athletics. That means, if you’ve been following along from the start, the impressive Seattle Mariners, even with the best pitcher in the American League in King Felix Hernandez will fall just short.
We will take a look at the September playoff outlook in the National League next!
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