4 Reasons the Baltimore Orioles Will Beat out Oakland A's for a Wild-Card Spot
There is a fierce race for one of two wild-card positions between quite a few teams this season in the MLB.
One team, the Baltimore Orioles, is a surprise contender, as they're still just kind of hanging around.
Another team, the Oakland Athletics, is even more of a surprise, considering their start to the season.
These two teams look primed to duke it out with each other, and other contending teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox (listed because the divisional race between the latter two teams is close and could change at almost any time) for the rest of the season.
Luckily for the O's, they'll be the triumphant team in the wild-card hunt come October. Here's why.
While the O's don't have the greatest offense, their offense has been better and more consistent than the A's offense has this season, and the A's seem to have hit well only in the month of July.
While the Orioles are 24th in the majors in batting average with a .243 clip, the A's are sitting on .230, which puts them in dead last. The Birds are third in the league in homers (130), and the A's are 14th (112). The O's also top the A's in RBI, where the O's rank 19th with 411 and the A's are 24th with 394.
Keep in mind, these numbers are going into Wednesday's action.
A better offense means giving your team a better chance to win the ballgame. And that's what the O's do better than the A's more often than not.
More to Prove
While the A's had an unbelievable July to get them into the race, the O's have been steadily keeping pace with the big guns all season, which is why this team has more to prove than the A's do.
The Orioles fanbase has higher expectations and hopes for their team than the A's fanbase likely does simply because O's fans have been dreaming of a surprise season since that first win was tallied for their team back on April 6.
The O's know this, and they want to prove to their fans and the world that they are legit. Mentality goes a long way in the game of baseball, and if the O's maintain a positive one, they can be fueled to do what was thought impossible of them before the season began.
This isn't a knock on the New York Yankees, of course. Or any other team in the AL East. That division is fantastic. It's still the "beast".
But if the season ended today, three of the five playoff spots in the AL would go to AL West teams, with the Texas Rangers winning their division, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim taking the first wild-card spot, and the out-of-nowhere A's taking the second.
To me, that's pretty astonishing. And that's why I think the AL West have proven to be a tougher division. Proof enough is the fact that the O's have remained in second in the AL East for all but a day during their subpar run of play over the last month or two.
As the season winds down, teams play their division rivals more often, and in my opinion, that leads to the A's having a rougher time maintaining hot play than the Orioles.
There's almost nothing about the Orioles this season that's the model of consistency outside of a few guys like closer Jim Johnson, right fielder Nick Markakis (pictured) and injured starting pitcher Jason Hammel.
But the O's have consistently been five-to-10 games over .500 all season (occasionally dipping down to three or so) and have been in first or second in the AL East for pretty much the whole season.
They've remained in the thick of the AL Wild Card race and continue to surprise people.
No offense to those Amazin' A's, but that's more than they can attest to.
The A's weren't in the playoff picture for half of the season, and then, all of a sudden, now they are. That doesn't mean they won't stay there, but they haven't consistently been there like the Orioles have.
Right now, no one knows who the A's are as a team. Are they the mediocre team they proved to be for much of the season? Or are they the world beaters that everyone saw them as during July?
Right now, no one really knows who the A's are. But it's pretty evident who the Baltimore Orioles are.