MLB Playoff Race 2012: 5 Teams That Will Be Left Out
With only a little more than a month to go, the gun commencing the 2012 MLB playoff race has finally been shot—no team is safe. Some division leaders have a bit more cushion but, as of right now, any team can be dethroned.
The wild card position in the American league is as tight one might expect.
The contenders—Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Oakland and Detroit—are all currently within a game of each other. Plus, the White Sox lead the Tigers in the Central Division by only two wins.
There is a bit more of a gap in the National League.
The Atlanta Braves set the bar high for the rest of the league. However, it's not high enough to topple the Washington Nationals for the lead in the East Division. St. Louis is two wins behind Atlanta and the Los Angeles Dodgers—four wins behind—are also wild card contenders.
Here are five teams that will come up short this postseason.
The Baltimore Orioles are a victim of their upcoming games. They play the New York Yankees next month in a series of games that will most likely put some distance between them and the East Division leaders.
After that, the Orioles travel to Oakland. The Athletics are not only the Orioles direct wild card competition, but they have also been stellar at home (39-27).
To make the playoffs, the Orioles will have to battle the Yankees and then induce some damage against their wild card competition on the road. This seems like a task that Baltimore just is not up for.
Despite having two options to propel them into the playoffs, the Detroit Tigers seem unlikely to capitalize on either of them.
The Tigers are only two wins away from breaching the three-way wild card tie that exists in the American League. They are also two wins behind current Central Division leaders the Chicago White Sox.
With two backup plans, a team in the Tigers' position should feel confident in making the playoffs. However, the Tigers have shown no reason to believe that either of the opportunities will capitalized on.
They have been atrocious on the road (30-32) and will certainly fall behind because of their away performance.
"Sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn't," Tigers left fielder Andy Dirks said after Saturday's victory against the Angels (via ESPN). "Tonight it bounced our way when we needed it to. That's part of playing baseball."
Another part of Baseball is winning away games—lucky bounces will not be enough to get the Tigers into the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are in a heated three-way tie with the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics for the coveted wild card spot in the American League. Unfortunately, the Rays do not have many games left against either of these teams, which means that a spot in the playoffs is unlikely.
Despite a consistent track record of wins—both home and away—without an opportunity to compete against the other wild card contenders, the Rays will not be able to maintain their pace.
On top of that, the Rays have several games against the East Division leading New York Yankees.
It will be hard for the Rays to keep up—let alone compete—for the wild card position.
The Atlanta Braves currently hold the wild card spot in the National league but are due to relinquish it.
Having won only three of their last 10 games, the Braves face the East Division leading Washington Nationals in two weeks. The Nationals have been stellar on the road (41-26) but less impressive at home (36-24). These stats will not hold up if the Braves cannot break out of their slump.
While the Braves battle the Nationals for both the division and wild card, the reigning 2011 MLB champion St. Louis Cardinals are hot on their trail with an easy schedule ahead.
It is likely that the Cardinals will pull past the Braves, and the Nationals will maintain their top spot, leaving the Braves in the dust.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants will be battling it out for the top spot in the West. It is possible but unlikely that the loser of this battle will be lucky enough to secure the wild card spot in the playoffs.
Both teams have a relatively easy schedule remaining and should put up similar numbers throughout the remainder of the season. The playoff spot will come down to the head-to-head battles.
Last Thursday, the Dodgers were crushed by the Giants (8-4), despite Los Angeles winning seven of their last 10 road games. The Giants have shown that they are more than capable of shutting down even a hot Dodgers team.
The Dodgers have lost seven of 12 games against the Giants this year and four of the losses were at home.
Los Angeles simply does not have what it takes to topple the Giants for the division and that will cost them a playoff spot.