Last week we looked more at the moves teams made, so let’s get back to the races.
The Red Sox are done, so it is really just between the Rays and the Yankees. Once upon a time the Rays were struggling to hit and the Yankees looked unbeatable. The Yankees still look pretty good, but with Carlos Pena back and Evan Longoria back on track, the Rays are putting up numbers like Sir Isaac Newton. Right now, the Rays are the better team, but next week it could be the Yankees. I will stick with the Yankees right now in the long run, but nothing would make me happier than to see the Rays take the division and knock the crown off the Yankees ‘ big heads. The sweep of the Rangers was impressive and a sign that the Rays are not just a playoff team, but a World Series contender, but I am not ready to give them the division just yet.
Yankees: 60% they win the division, 100% they make the playoffs (40% wild card)
Rays: 40% they win division, 100% they make the playoffs (60% wild card)
I have stuck with the Twins all year, and even with Justin Morneau’s mysterious concussion, the Twins have taken the fight to the White Sox. They got them in Minnesota and put a beatdown on the Sox to give them a 4 game lead. This race is far from over, but for now it looks like it is the Twins’ race to lose. They could lose it, but for a franchise with the luck that the Twins have, I doubt it will happen.
Twins: 75% they win the division, 75% they make the playoffs (0% wild card)
White Sox: 25% they win the division, 25% they make the playoffs (0% wild card)
The Rangers will win the division, end of discussion. Their current slide is certainly worrying, but I do not think it is serious enough to keep them out of the playoffs. I hope this isn’t the case, but it looks ike the Texas summer has once again sapped the Rangers and it will take some recovery before they are back to their best baseball. For baseball’s sake, I hope they get it back, and I think they will, things are just a little tense in Texas right now.
Rangers: 100% they win the division, 100% they make the playoffs (0% wild card)
Now things get interesting. The AL races are straightforward for the most part, but the NL races are just getting out of the blocks. The Braves have been out front for a while now, but the Phillies are charging as they seem to always do in late August and September. Perhaps the scariest part for the Braves is that the Phillies are just now getting Chase Utley back, and Ryan Howard should be back shortly. The Braves did get better defensively with Derrek Lee, but it has got to be getting tense in Atlanta. They are still a very good team, but it is going to take a Herculean effort to hold off the Fightin’ Phils.
I go back and forth on the NL Wild Card almost daily, but this week I have been leaning toward the Braves. It will probably be the Giants next week, but right now Atlanta’s pitching looks just as good as the Giants’ and their offense is sneaky-good. It is going to be exciting to the last day, and that is great for baseball even if it is not good for the mental health of the fans of the teams.
Phillies: 51% they win the division, 71% they make the playoffs (20% wild card)
Braves: 49% they win the division, 69% they make the playoffs (20% wild card)
Last time I wrote about the NL Central, I said that it would be close but one team slipping up could very easily just give it to the other team. This looks like it could be happening with the Cardinals’ recent slide. Now the Reds will have plenty of chances to slip up over the next couple of weeks, but right now they have to be the favorites in the Central. The Cardinals are suddenly searching for a solution at 3rd and not getting the pitching they have become accustomed to and the results have reflected the issues. They can still get it right, but things are getting tense in the STL. You might not be able to spell “hustle” without the STL, but you can spell “playoffs” without it, even if we are not at all used to it. I am sticking with the Cardinals, but the Reds are the favorites. The Reds will have to prove it though as the Cardinals have owned them this season. I feel like if the Reds are going to win the division, they are going to have to go through the big boys of the division.
Reds: 55% they win the division, 75% they make the playoffs (20% wild card)
Cardinals: 45% they win the division, 55% they make the playoffs (10% wild card)
We have stuck with the Padres here and it looks like it is going to pay off. They hold a fairly commanding 6 game lead over the Giants, and perhaps most importantly, they have a great head-to-head record against them. The Padres are in, which is still a pretty startling sentence to write given all the news about Adrian Gonzalez’s departure before this year. The Rockies and Dodgers were the teams that were supposed to be battling for this spot, not the Padres, but those two teams are out and the Padres are in. The Giants are in a difficult position. They are right in the wild card race, but are realistically fighting it out with the Phllies, Braves, Reds and Cardinals. Are they better than any of those teams? It depends on the day, but the point is that they are in a tough place. They can definitely still make it, but it is going to take some work. I picked them last week so they are obviously right in it, but they have a fight on their hands and making the playoffs would be an achievement given the situation.
Padres: 90% they win the division, 99% they make the playoffs (9% wild card)
Giants: 10% they win the division, 30% they make the playoffs (20% wild card)