MLB Playoff Races Heat Up: We Predict the Outcomes!

Jason BelzerCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2012

MLB Playoff Races Heat Up: We Predict the Outcomes!

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    September is upon us and the Major League Baseball Divisional and Wild Card races are in full swing.  In the American League, all three divisions are very much in play while in the National League, the focus seems to be directed to the Wild Card battle. 

    Fear not! 

    We have consulted with the oracles, read the tea leaves and gazed into our crystal ball to predict the outcome of the Divisional and Wild Card races.

    Read on to find out if your team made the cut!

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

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    The New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are bunched at the top and separated by 2.5 games, as of today. 

    The Yankees have been battling injuries but will get Alex Rodriguez back this week to see if they can right their ship. The Orioles have been one of the surprise teams of the summer and find themselves just a game back. 

    The Yankees have nine more games against the Orioles and Rays, while the Rays and Orioles play the their rivals eight games apiece, so the best news of all is that the Division Crown will be settled on the field. 

    Tampa and New York have been down this road before and their experiences will come in handy...

    Congratulations to the New York Yankees who will hold off the inexperienced Orioles for the Eastern crown.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

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    The Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers are locked up in a classic race. 

    The Motor City Kitties caught the Sox over the weekend for a flat footed tie, but the South Siders pulled a game ahead to start the week.  They meet for four games next week in Chicago to wrap up the season series. 

    The deciding factor will be the rest of the schedule for these two teams. 

    During the final weekend of the season, the Tigers have the Minnesota Twins (their four games before that are against the Royals).  The White Sox?  They close with a four-game set against the Rays, a team sure to be battling for a wild-card spot.

    The Detroit Tigers will represent the American League Central in the postseason.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

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    This is the only AL race that seems to be somewhat in control. 

    No matter how hot the Oakland Athletics get, they can’t seem to close on the class of the league, the Texas Rangers

    The teams collide seven more times this month so there’s a chance for the A’s to do some damage, but Oakland, for the rest of the month, will face a murderer’s row; other than six games with the Mariners, the A’s square off against the Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers and Orioles. 

    It will be tough to make any headway against those teams.  The Rangers have 12 games against the Royals, Mariners and Indians and should be able to put it in cruise control for most of the month.

    The Texas Rangers will pull away heading into the last week to win the West and will be the only division winner to have enough cushion to set up its rotation headed into the playoffs.  It will be a nice advantage to have!

AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD

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    As the week begins, the A’s and Orioles will hold the top two spots and would meet in Oakland for a one-game playoff. 

    The Rays, Tigers and Angels are all within 3.5 games.  Since we have already told you that the Tigers will be winning the Central, you can replace them with the White Sox. 

    These five teams will spend the better part of the month playing top notch opponents and are all heavily involved in divisional races. 

    Say what you want about Commissioner Bud Selig, but adding that second wild-card team assures us that there will be a lot of meaningful baseball headed into the final week of the season. 

    The White Sox have a distinct advantage coming out of the Central.  They will feast on games against the Royals, Indians and Twins, while their compatriots will have to play the Yankees, Rangers, Angels and each other the rest of the way home. 

    Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild finish.


    The Chicago White Sox will earn one of the two wild-card spots and will get to play at home against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Game 1 playoff.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

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    The Washington Nationals have a comfortable 6.5 game cushion over the Atlanta Braves, but if there was any team capable of coming back from that kind of deficit, you’d have to point to the Braves.

    It’s in their DNA to play in October, and coming back from big holes is a “been there, done that” event (just ask the Mets).  Still, 6.5 with just three head-to-head games remaining is formidable.  Even without Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have enough to hold off the Braves.


    The Washington Nationals will make baseball relevant in the capital during the election year and will win the National League East title.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

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    Raise your hand if you predicted that the Cincinnati Reds would have the biggest lead in baseball headed into the final month. 

    All those that raised your hands report immediately for detention because you’re either lying or you stole our crystal ball. 

    The Reds are rolling. 

    They’re 8.5 games up, and it will take a monumental collapse to allow the defending champion, the St. Louis Cardinals, to get anywhere close to the top.  The Reds will spend September staying sharp and preparing for the postseason.  Staying healthy will be their biggest challenge.

    The Cincinnati Reds will win the National League Central.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

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    Well, it’s almost a real race.  Almost. 

    The San Francisco Giants should be out of this right? 

    Their two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum has been horrible most of the year.  Their best hitter Melky Cabrera was suspended for P.E.D.s.

    They can’t hit.  Their defense has been solidly mediocre all year.  And yet here they are with a 4.5 game lead over the free spending Los Angeles Dodgers

    L.A. is working feverishly to buy a pennant but instead seem to be proving that you can’t buy chemistry (although you CAN buy a chemistry set that will make testosterone…).  The best west coast baseball rivalry will stay heated to the end, since the teams are playing this weekend. 

    But bad news for the boys in blue as the Giants will finish against the NL West while the Dodgers still have the Cardinals, Nationals and Reds to deal with.


    San Francisco, congratulations, you will capture your second division crown in three years.  The S.F. Giants will win the National League West!

NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD

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    There are four teams battling for two spots in the National League Wild Card race. 

    Unlike in the American League, these four teams don’t have a lot of hope to catch the division leaders, meaning that they’ll be focused entirely on catching each other. 

    The Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates will head down to the end, although the Braves and Cards currently have tickets to the dance. 

    Good news for Pittsburgh: They have 20 games left against the Brewers, Astros, Cubs and Mets.  Bad news for Pittsburgh: They have been horrible during the last few weeks, dropping 10 of their last 13.

    The Dodgers have it rough, as we detailed earlier.  Unless they find a way to catch lightening in a bottle they’ll have to start figuring out how to add more payroll over the summer! 

    The Braves have a fairly easy road ahead of them, with just three games against a team with a winning record (the Nationals).  With their experience and schedule, things look good for the Tomahawk Choppers. 

    The Cardinals have to face the Dodgers between now and the last weekend of the year, but a big three-game season-ender at home against the Nationals will figure to be interesting. 

    It’s hard to count out the defending champions.  Experience always plays a big role in these battles. 

    When the dust settles, the Atlanta Braves and the surprise Pittsburgh Pirates will find their way into the one-game playoff in Atlanta for the Wild Card!