This has been a bit of a crazy season, at least in the American League East. The Rays are division leaders (weren't they supposed to suck?). The Yankees are lurking behind in third, and could miss the playoffs for the first time in a long time. And the Red Sox are looking at going after another World Series title, as they are in second.
The way the Rays are achieving success out of almost nowhere (even though I don't like them) is a very good thing for Major League Baseball. It makes more neutral fans watch when the Rays are playing, because instead of saying, "It's the Rays, they're going to lose big, I don't want to watch. BORING," they say, "Hey, the Rays are playing, this should be a good game."
Therefore, ratings go up; television networks are happy with more money.
I won't go into the stories of the year that has been, as every one of you who follows baseball will know them. Instead, I will prognosticate the rest of the season for everyone.
The horses out of the East are the Rays, Sox and Yankees. I see the Red Sox pulling off the division. They have great pitching, great hitting and an amazing closer, Jonathan Papelbon, who is one of the best flamethrowers in the Major Leagues. The 3-4-5 combo of Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell will take them far, and the rest of the batting order will take this team to first in the division by two games over Tampa. This means the Yankees miss the playoffs.
In the Central, Chicago and Minnesota look to take the division, with Detroit a few games back. Minnesota seems like the team who you don't hear much about early. They are sort of there, don't make much noise; but then during the final two months of the season, they start to go after their division. All year, no one talks about the Twins, then all of a sudden, they make the playoffs. This year will be no different. Their pitching will be solid down the stretch, and their hitting, in the form of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau (the Home Run champ, but not really), will get a division win by three games over Chicago. Detroit is out.
Out West, it's all about one team, and one team only. The best team in baseball also happens to play in the worst division in the American League. It's a bit of weird proposition, but I guess the Angels will take it. Nobody in this division is going to stop this team; neither Josh Hamilton's Rangers or Oakland will be able to come from nine games down to beat the Angels. They win this division by eight games.
For the Wild Card, the surprising Rays will hold on. Their pitching is good enough to make it happen and the hitting gets them into the playoffs. Eva, I mean EvaN Longoria will help a lot on the way to the Ray's first playoffs.
The seeds will be (1) Angels, (2) Boston, (3) Tampa, (4) Minnesota.
In the East, there is a three horse race for first, and it is a good one. Florida, even after trading away what was supposed to be some of their best players is half a game back, and the Phillies and Mets are now tied for the division lead. Crazy. This will be a dogfight right down to the end, and I think that the Mets will be able to pull out the division, with the strength of Jose Reyes and a hot (not in that way) Carlos Delgado and the rest of their hitting. Along with a good strong rotation and relief staff, they barely take the division over the Phillies by two games and Florida misses by four games.
Centrally, three teams are fighting for the crown (where have I heard that before?). Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis are all duking it out for first place. This will be a very good race to the finish. I don't see any of these teams falling off. I feel that the Cubs will fall out of first place, however, which opens the door for the Brewers. For years this team has played badly; but finally with good drafting, signings and trades, they have developed a good team. This is their year. They finish four games ahead of the Cubs, and the Cards finish six games behind the Brew Crew.
Past the Rockies, and actually right in the Rockies as well, there is what is the most sorry excuse for a division I have ever seen. There should be a rule in baseball where if a division leader isn't above .500, they miss the playoffs. It's incredibly stupid that the Blue Jays are tied in record with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lead the division at 48-50, along with the Dodgers. As exciting as this race will be, it will be whoever loses the least who wins this division, and I don't know who to pick. If I had to choose, I would have to go with the 'Backs, just because they have made the playoffs more recently than the Dodgers. To think St. Louis or the Cubs will miss the playoffs and Arizona or LA will get in is horrendous. I say the Backs win by one game.
For the National Wild Card, contending teams will be the Cubs, Cardinals, Phillies and Marlins. I have listed the Marlins and Cardinals as third in their divisions, so out they go. The Cubs and Phillies are left to duke it out for the fourth spot in the National League playoffs. As I also said, the Cubs will lose their division, but not the Wild Card. Their pitching is too good, their batting is too good, and they will take the Wild Card.
The seedings will be (1) Milwaukee, (2) Chicago, (3) New York, (4) Arizona.