There’s just over a week left in August, and now seemed like as good a time as any to write about the playoff races. However, the division races look to be rather boring, with only one leader having a lead of less than 4.5 games.
However, there is always chance for an upset. Which brings me to the the point of this article: what are the chances for any remaining team to make the playoffs? My analysis follows each team. All stats as of Aug. 22.
Yankees-Currently lead the division by 6.5 games, and have the best record in baseball.
Their schedule, while not the easiest, doesn’t look completely unmanageable, with five remaining series against sub-.500 teams, as well as one each against the White Sox and Mariners, both at .512.
Verdict: Playoff-bound, maybe the safest bet in baseball.
Red Sox- Lead the Wild Card by 1.5 games, but their rotation has looked shaky as of late. Their schedule seems about on par with the Yankees.
Verdict: Not yet safe; seems like they could catch fire or collapse at any moment.
Rays- At 10 games back, the division is all but unwinable. They are a much more reasonable 3.5 out of the Wild Card. They have a harder schedule than either the Yankees or the Red Sox, though.
Verdict- The dark horse in the Wild Card Race.
Blue Jays-Losing record, 20 games out.
Verdict-Top Five pick in next year’s draft, and maybe (hopefully) a decent year.
Tigers-They lead the AL Central by three games, and improved their rotation with Jarrod Washburn and their line-up with Aubrey Huff. They also have seven more series against losing teams, and six more games against their closest rival, the White Sox.
Verdict- Between Sept. 1 and 24, they play three games against a team with a wining record in the Rays. If they can pad their lead enough there, their two series with the White Sox might not matter.
White Sox- They look to be fairly evenly matched with the Tigers. The deciding factor may be their schedule: it is the exact opposite of the Tigers, with seven of their 12 remaining series against teams with winning records, including two series against the Red Sox and one against the Yankees.
Verdict- Tigers look to be the favorite based solely on remaining games
Twins-They have a losing record, but are only six games back in the central. Still, they have two series left against the White Sox and Tigers. Those will either vault them back into contention, or dash their hopes.
Verdict- Their pitching staff seems a little to weak to compete.
Indians- They’re 12.5 back in the Central, the weakest division in baseball this year. They traded last year’s Cy Young, Cliff Lee, and their only All-Star this year, Victor Martinez. That seems like waving the white flag.
Royals- Do I really have to bother?
Angels- With a 6.5 game lead in the AL West, and a recent hot streak, the Angels look to be locks. But, they do have a difficult schedule ahead, with six series left against teams in first or second in their division.
However, the remaining six games are against the A’s, Mariners, and Royals, so take it for what you will.
Verdict- They look like they will cruise into the playoffs, at the moment.
Rangers- They haven’t got as difficult a schedule as the Angels, and while they’re 6.5 back in the West, they’re only two back in the Wild Card. They’re a more complete team than they usually are.
Verdict-They are probably slight underdogs in the Wild Card Race, but it’s easily conceivable that they make it.
Mariners- 12.5 back in the West, 7.5 back in the Wild Card race...Let’s just say it’s not looking good.
Verdict- They exceeded expectations this year, but they won’t make the playoffs.
A’s-They’re 20.5 back in their division and were sellers at the deadline.
Verdict- You do the math.
Phillies- They lead their division by 6.5 games, and have six remaining series against sub-.500 teams. The other six are split evenly between the Giants, the Marlins, and the Braves.
Verdict- Looking pretty strong. I only foresee problems if there swept in one of the latter six series AND the team in question catches fire. They’re probably in.
Braves- They’re 6.5 back in the division, and 4 back in the Wild Card. However, in the last twelve series, they face the Phillies and Marlins twice each, the Cardinals once, and...that’s it. In fact, they have four match-ups with teams in last place in a division.
Verdict- They might pick up some ground with their schedule, but unless they can top the Phillies in a majority of their remaining games, they’ll probably won’t be playing in October. There is the possibility of the Wild Card, with their weak schedule, though.
Marlins-They’re tied with the Braves, and their schedule is about the same, difficulty-wise. In fact, they play almost the exact same schedule, with the only differences being they play each other, and the Marlins have one extra series against the Mets to the Braves one against the Astros. I can’t really pick one as being much more difficult.
Verdict-See the Braves.
Mets- I feel bad for the Mets. The number of injuries they’ve had to deal with this year is incredible. At the rate their going, any minute now, Johan Santana might spontaneously combust, of K-Rod will be abducted by aliens. Oh, and they’re 14.5 out.
Verdict- Maybe a demon or malevolent spirit is cursing them? Oh, and they won’t make the playoffs.
Verdict- See above.
Cardinals- This may be the closest thing to a sure lead in the NL. They have an eight game strong hold on their division. Additionally, they have four series left against teams above .500.
Verdict- Difficult to foresee them not in the playoffs.
Cubs- They have an easy schedule the rest of the way, with only two series against teams with a winning record. However, they themselves are only half a game over .500, and they face three more teams currently within a game and a half of them.
Verdict- Seeing as they’re eight games behind the Cardinals, seven games behind Colorado and barely playing .500 ball right now, I seriously doubt their chances.
Astros- This team is the reason I am writing this. I’ve had to hear several people tell me why the Astros are not out of the playoff race yet (in these people’s defense, I think some of the arguments are jokes). They are nine games back in the Central, and have a losing record.
Also, they have six remaining series against teams with a winning record, including two each with the Cardinals and Phillies.
Verdict-Don’t expect a repeat of 2005’s miracle run. Or even last year’s last-ditch effort.
Brewers-I’ll try to do this one as quickly as possible: 9.5 back, eight series against teams with a winning record. Of those eight, only two are against teams with a record worse than .545.
Verdict- Not happening.
Pirates- You’re kidding, right?
Reds- Okay, they’re worse than the Pirates right now. Let that sink in.
Verdict- Doing worse than the Pirates takes incredible amounts of skill. Unfortunately, none of those skills help in baseball.
Dodgers-They currently have the best record in the NL, and a 4.5 game lead. They remaining schedule is rather soft, with two match-ups each with the Rockies and Giants, and eight other series in the bottom two of their respective divisions.
Verdict- Looking like a safe bet not only for the postseason, but also for the NL West title.
Rockies- They have five series with winning teams left, but they’ve been on a roll lately. They also lead the Wild Card.
Verdict- Their two series with the Giants will probably be the deciding factor. I’d still say they are the favorites to make the playoffs.
Giants-They’re two games back in the Wild Card, but have a noticeably harder schedule than the Rockies (mostly because of one extra set against the Phillies; other than that, the two schedules are similar).
Verdict- Still the underdog to the Rockies, but they still have a chance to easily pull it off.
Diamondbacks-If you’re still reading this because you believe either of these teams can make it, you are delusional. If you are reading it to finish it, or because you like my writing, I respect that. I’ll try and make these last two good.
Verdict-You may notice I didn’t actually talk about the Diamondbacks’ chances. There is a reason for this.
Padres-Well, thank you for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it; suggestions and comments are welcome.
Verdict-What do you mean “I still have one more team to do”?