As the MLB 2011 season winds down, there are few certainties going into the postseason.
The offensively challenged defending champion San Francisco Giants are 9.5 games out in the NL West and 8.5 out in the NL Wildcard. Another World Series Championship team unable to make the playoffs the following year has to be disappointing to San Francisco fans.
In the AL, Boston trails the division leading Yankees by only 2.5 games but with a litany of injuries and pitching not playing to it's potential their 4.5 game lead in the Wildcard is tenuous at best with Tampa Bay coming on strong at the finish line.
No matter who makes the playoffs, the two teams to watch seem to be the Yankees and Phillies.
The Yankees have hit a major league high with 201 home runs, entering play today, and have eight players with double digit home run output—living up to their Bronx Bombers label.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Philles have a major league team leading low 3.03 ERA, entering play today, with one of the best five-man rotations in the history of the game firing on all cylinders.
Since acquiring Hunter Pence at the trade deadline Philadelphia has jumped in runs scored in the NL from ninth to fifth, despite battling continuous injuries to key players for the second year in a row.
After completing a sweep of the Atlanta Braves earlier this week and taking the first three games against Milwaukee this weekend, it's difficult to imagine anyone seriously challenging Philadelphia's superiority in the NL this year.
But the playoffs are the playoffs and anything could happen.
In the AL, Boston has the firepower to match the Yankees but they lack, along with Detroit, the pitching to seriously be a threat in a long series.
The AL West contenders could be an interesting challenge for New York.
Barring either enormous postseason collapses or meeting a team absolutely on fire, it's difficult to imagine anything other than a repeat of the '09 Fall Classic in 2011.