Monday, 18 September 2006

Assessing the Playoff and Division Races

With 2 weeks left in the MLB season, now's a good time to take a look at who's winning the divisions, who's in the Wildcard lead in each League, and who has a chance to make the playoffs.

AL East: This one is pretty much over. Yankees hold a 10 game lead with 12 games left to play. I've really been amazed at how quickly the Sox have fallen... they were leading if I recall at the All-Star break, and then they made no moves at the deadline, and then the 5-game sweep, and it's been all downhill from there. One semi-interesting note here is the Jays are only 2 games behind Boston for 2nd in the division, and they haven't been there for a while.

AL Central/Wildcard: I combine these only because it looks pretty certain that the Wildcard winner will be coming out... which leaves 2 spots open for 3 teams. As of right now, the Tigers are in the lead, the Twins are 1.5 behind, and the Sox are 6 behind. Here are the remaining schedules:

Twins: @ BOS (3), @ BAL (3), KC (4), CHI (3)
Tigers: @ CHI (2), @ BAL (1), @ KC (3), TOR (3), KC (3)
White Sox: DET (2), SEA (4), @CLE (3), @MIN (3)

The way all of these teams are playing right now, I think Chicago is the odd team out. Their pitching has been inconsistent, and they don't have quite enough offense to make up for it, which is why they're 4-6 in their last 10 and things aren't getting any better. For the division title, I think the Tigers have built up a little too big of a lead and their schedule is a little easier than the Twins. So I have the Tigers winning with the Twins taking the Wildcard.

AL West: A's lead by 6.5 games and they have 13 games left (12 games left for the Angels)... it's more possible for a comeback here than the AL East, but it would take a collossal collapse and I just don't see that happening, as the A's are pitching pretty well and playing good baseball.

NL East: The Mets just clinched Monday... so move along, nothing to see here.

NL Central: Despite a pretty mediocre team outside of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals have managed to build up a 7 game lead in the division, mostly thanks to the extreme awfulness of everyone else. 2nd place Cincy is 4 games under .500.

NL West: And finally an interesting race. It's been back-and-forth lately, but as of now it's the Dodgers that hold a 1/2 game edge in the division over the Padres. A 3rd team, the Giants, is still holding out some hope as well, 4.5 games back. I like the Padres here, because I think their pitching is a little better than the Dodgers.

NL Wildcard: This is potentially the most interesting race... the Giants and Marlins are just barely in the discussion, but they pretty much have to win out at this point. So it'll basically come down to whoevers loses the West and the Phillies. Right now the Padres hold a 1.5 game lead on the Phils. It looks like the Dodgers and Phillies have better overall pitching than the Phils, but the Phils do have Ryan Howard, who's been out of his mind since the All-Star break. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll get quite enough help, which I why I like the loser of the West (the Dodgers in my predictions here) to get the consolation prize of the Wildcard.

Agree with the picks? Disagree with the picks?