It's Getting Tight: How MLB's Division Races Will Play Out
This is what Baseball is all about! This season is shaping up to have some phenomenal finishes.
With only 1 division in baseball having more that a 3 game lead atop the division this is sure to be one historic finish.
The Wild Card spots are all but decided with only 1 game separating teams in the NL and only 4 in the AL.
With divisional races this close, and this much drama coming down to the end, it is guaranteed to be one hell of a finish!
The AL Central looks to be one of the more exciting finishes in baseball this year. Last year it took a 1 game playoff between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers to finally crown the Twins as the champs.
This year Minnesota is right back at it again, currently tied with the Chicago White Sox for the lead in the Central division. The Detroit Tigers come in at a disappointing 9 games back after a terrible 2nd half.
The Twins are led by current AL MVP Joe Mauer and former AL MVP Justin Morneau. With some surprisingly good pitching out of Carl Pavano and Fransisco Liriano as well.
The Chicago White Sox are one of the hottest teams in baseball and have been on an absolute tear since right before the all-star break. Their pitching has been sensational behind John Danks, and Gavin Floyd has been tremendous here of late.
My Projected Winner: The Minnesota Twins over the Chicago White Sox in a 1 game playoff.
The AL east is basically a 3 team race at this point between the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Boston Red Sox.
Toronto is still hanging by a thread at 10.5 games out but I would say that more than likely they are all but finished.
The Yankees currently have a 1.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays with the Boston Red Sox trailing by 5.5 games.
The Yankees seem to be the favorites to win this division and its hard for them not to be with the best record in baseball. Also they are also the defending World Series Champions.
The Tampa Bay Rays come in at 2nd trailing by a game and a half, but there window of opportunity seems to be closing fast. 2 starting pitchers in Wade Davis and Jeff Nieman have recently landed on the 15 day DL.
The Boston Red Sox are in at 3rd trailing by 5.5 games. The Red Sox who have had countless DL trips all year long are finally starting to get healthy again with the exception of slugging first baseman Kevin Youkilis out for the year. If the Sox are going to make a move, now is the time to do it.
My projected winner: The New York Yankees
How the West was won. Well, due in large part to the guy on the right in this picture, Josh Hamilton. The Texas Rangers have been outstanding and it doesn't look like the Angels or the A's are going to catch them.
The Texas Rangers behind the bat of Josh Hamilton have ran away with the AL West lead. They are up 7.5 games on the Angels and 8 on the A's, by far the biggest lead of any division in baseball.
Hamilton is batting a ridiculous .357 for a guy who hits mostly for power, and that Cliff Lee guy isn't that bad either.Lee, who the Rangers acquired from division rival Seattle is some people's favorite to win the AL Cy Young award.
The rest of the team hasn't been too shabby either, with Vlad driving in a team leading 86 RBI after the Angels had written him off as past his prime.
My Projected Winner: Texas runs away with it...
The NL Central, the current talk of the MLB and why not?
The Cardinals just wrapped up a sweep of the Cincinatti Reds to take a 1 game lead but that wasn't exactly the biggest storyline in this series.That belongs the Brandon Phillip's Mouth. He was quoted as saying he hated the Cardinals that they were little B*tches, and that compared to the Cardinals he loved the Chicago Cubs. Man just another reason to love the great sport of baseball.
This is a 2 team race from here on out so it looks like if your a Cubs fan year 102 won't be your magic number either.
Behind the bat of Albert Pujols and arms of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright the Cardinals have again surged to the top, but don't look for NL MVP front-runner Joey Votto and the Reds to go away easily.
The Reds and Cardinals have 1 more series left against each other this year it comes on September 3-5 in St. Louis. Mark your calendars, not only will that be the start of the College Football season, it may very well be the weekend the NL Central is won.
My Projected Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
The NL East race may be unfortunately decided by team's injuries and their ability to cope with the. The front-runner Braves were just dealt some harsh news in that their star 3rd baseman Chipper Jones has a torn ACL and will be out for the season.
The Philadelphia Phillies are only 2.5 games out of the Atlanta Braves and it seems that the New York Mets have once again faded away, making this a two horse race as well.
The Phillies made arguably the biggest deal outside of Cliff Lee at the break by acquiring Roy Oswalt, while the Braves were only able to land Rink Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.
The Braves pitching staff has been great, but so has Philly's, anchored by Roy "Doc" Halladay. Rookie Jason Heyward has been a breath of fresh air for Atlanta but will have to step up even more in Chipper's absence.
My Projected Winner: The Philadelphia Phillies
The NL West lead team is also baseball's biggest surprise this year in the San Diego Padres, who lead the San Fransisco Giants. The Colorado Rockies, and Los Angeles Dodgers are both 8 games out at the moment.
The Padres have been able to control the West by unbelievable pitching from young guns like Mat Latos and Clayton Richard.However, having Adrian Gonzalez on your team doesn't exactly hurt your chances.
The San Fransisco Giants, like the Padres also rely on pitching. Behind the arms of NL Cy Young Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain they've managed to pull within 2.5 games.
This division is obviously going to come down to pitching, but both teams are going to need to step up the run support of they want to win. I think that San Fransisco has the slight edge in pitching with San Diego the slight edge in hitting.
My Projected Winner: In the long run I think the Padres luck finally runs out, the San Fransisco Giants win the West.
AL Wild Card
The AL Wild Card has been considered for the most part to be an AL East consolation prize. However the AL Central 2nd place team is trying to throw their hat in the ring as well.
The Tampa Bay Rays currently hold the lead over the Red Sox by 4 games, and the White Sox/Twins by 5 games.
It was widely thought that whichever team in Tampa or New York didn't win the East would win the Wild Card. However with the Rays starting to struggle and the Red Sox finally starting to get healthy again this could get interesting.
I think that the team that wins the Wild Card will be from the East despite the surge from the Central teams. Its rumored that Red Sox 2nd Baseman Dustin Pedroia could return from a broken foot injury as early as this weekend if not by early next week. With the Rays having to send 2 starting pitchers to the DL in the last week they are going to have to rely on some young unseasoned guys.
My Projected Winner: I honestly think that with the return of players from the DL, that the Boston Red Sox will indeed get the job done.
NL Wild Card
The NL Wild Card, unlike that of the AL still has serious contenders from every division.
The San Fransisco Giants are currently in 1st a game ahead of both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds. However, as I stated earlier I think that the Phillies and Giants will go on to win their divisions so I think this leaves it to the Braves, Padres, and Reds to battle it out.
The Padres currently have a 2 game advantage in the loss column over the Braves which could prove to be very helpful.
The Padres also have a 3 game series against the Reds starting on September 24th which could also prove to be huge.
However the Braves have 27 games on their schedule that they get to play at Turner Field, and they have been one of the best home teams in Major League Baseball this year.
My Projected Winner: I think despite the blow to Chipper, the Atlanta Braves still get it done and return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season.