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The State of the Races

Sep 6, 2011, 8:24 AM EDT

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Getty Images

Trying something new here: a daily snapshot of the pennant races. It may be a bad time to do such a thing given that, you know, we have one little pennant race of note and it tends to get less interesting every time the Angels get close, but I think it’s OK. Sort of like how a recession is often thought of as a good time to start a business because things can only improve, this may be the best time to launch a daily playoff race roundup too. Or not, but we can’t know until we try, right?

AL EAST

The spread: Yankees ahead of Boston by two and a half games, Yankees Red Sox leading the Rays in the Wild Card by seven.

The skinny: Yankees won yesterday, Boston lost. Each team has some bipolar thing going on with its pitching. One day you see good things, the next day they’re giving up double digits. Since both the Yankees and the Sox have a playoff spot more or less locked up, finding some kind of consistency and groove is the name of the game in September. Oh, and staying healthy. Josh Beckett‘s ankle sprain is obvious concern for the Sox.

AL CENTRAL

The spread: Tigers seven and a half ahead of Cleveland, eight ahead of Chicago.

The skinny: Detroit has taken care of each pretender/contender in the division quite handily when meeting them face-to-face, and this week’s series against Cleveland seems no different. Everyone’s talking about Justin Verlander, but then Doug Fister strikes out 13 guys yesterday. This can be overstated because writers are out trolling for storylines right now, but the Tigers are a pretty dangerous-looking team.

AL WEST

The spread: Rangers ahead of the Angels by two and a half.

The skinny: Wow, a bona fide pennant race! Rangers lost yesterday, Angles won. Worth noting that the Rangers appear to have the easier schedule the rest of the way by virtue of the Angels having to play a series against the Yankees. But let’s hope this stays close through the end of the season, because we have a Texas-Anaheim series from September 26-28th that sure would be awesome if it was meaningful. We’re owed that, right?

NL EAST

The spread: Phillies eight and a half up on the Braves, Braves leading the Giants in the Wild Card by eight and a half themselves.

The skinny: It’s not the biggest lead by number of games — that goes to the Brewers in the Central — but it is the biggest gulf in team quality between first and second.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: Brewers up by ten and a half over St. Louis.

The skinny: The actual race is over, but the race to see who will be the last person in the media to stop referring to the Cardinals as a contender is still hot and heavy. Really, I can’t recall a team with a double-digit deficit with under 30 games to play who so frequently has their “playoff chances” referred to in game stories and the like.  Let it go, folks, let it go.

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks seven up on the Giants

The skinny: The Giants have the worst run-differential of any second place team in baseball. Also the worst offense. You can’t gain ground when your only viable strategy is to wait for the other team to totally and utterly crater.

  1. Kevin S. - Sep 6, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    You can’t gain ground when your only viable strategy is to wait for the other team to totally and utterly crater.

    Unfortunately, Brian Sabean saw his team do just that last season and thought it was somehow a repeatable skill the Giants had, so he doubled-down on that awful offense.

  2. dracko19 - Sep 6, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    This is really lame. You would be far better off putting up a MVP tracker than this. At least that could be updated with something every day more relevant.

  3. 4d3fect - Sep 6, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    it tends to get less interesting every time the Angels get close

    Whaa…? East coast bias!!

  4. yankeesfanlen - Sep 6, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Yankees pitching has been bipolar all year, but we knew that from the start. The bullpen is usually dependable, and it’s what we have to use. Use it more sparingly, Joe, they CAN throw 40 pitches without needing a fainting couch. Bringing a new pitcher in with men on base only completes the process of letting them score.
    We’ve scored 765 runs and have had 197 homers, why bunt and steal? Montero is here, I do not wish to see Grumpy again.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 6, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Yankees pitching has been bipolar all year

      Well at least for pitchers not named Mariano Rivera and C.C. Sabathia.

  5. uyf1950 - Sep 6, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Craig, slight correction in your comment above about the Yankees leading the Rays in the Wild Card. I think it’s more like 9 plus games that the Yankees lead the Rays. Did you mean the Red Sox lead the Rays?

  6. Jonny 5 - Sep 6, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    The Cardinals are leading the Poopie Pants division.

  7. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Sep 6, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    “The skinny: It’s not the biggest lead by number of games — that goes to the Brewers in the Central — but it is the biggest gulf in team quality between first and second.” Craig had me for a second, but then I realized that the Cards/Brew crew would be the correct answer here. There are multiple errors here, one, underestimating the Brewers, two, underestimating the Braves, three, overestimating the Cards.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 6, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    It looks like the Phillies magic number to clinch a playoff berth is 6…meaning barring bad weather the next couple nights, by Sunday night, no matter what happens, they will likely be the first team to officially lock up a playoff spot.

    (yeah, that’s a tweak to both the Braves and Brewers fans)

  9. koufaxmitzvah - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Dodgers will overtake the Giants.

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