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Three exciting days left in the regular season

Oct 1, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter looks on during play against the Toronto Blue Jays in their first game of a double header during an MLB American League baseball game in Baltimore

We are down to the final three days of the regular season, and there is so much still to be decided. Here’s an overview for the craziness that will be afoot between now and Wednesday night:

The Races:

The teams involved in the playoffs are close to being set. The Yankees, Orioles and Rangers have clinched three of the five playoff spots in the American League. The Nationals, Braves, Reds and Giants have clinched four of the five in the NL.  All that’s left as far as the participants go are the identity of the AL Central representative and the final two wild card teams.

  • The Tigers have a three-game lead over the fading White Sox in the AL Central. One Tigers win in any of their final three games against the Royals in Kansas City or one White Sox loss in any of their final three in Cleveland gives the division crown to Detroit.
  • As for the wild card, in the American League, the Athletics are one win — or one Angels loss — in any of the final three games away from clinching.  The A’s play their final series at home against the Texas Rangers.  The Angels play their final three on the road against the Mariners.
  • In the National League, the Cardinals are two wins — or two Dodgers losses — in any of the final three games away from clinching.  The Cardinals finish up at home against the Reds. The Dodgers finish up at home against the Giants.

But making the postseason isn’t everything. Not in this new world of the one-game wild card playoff.  That’s what the Yankees and Orioles are playing for in the AL East. They are in a deadlock at 92-67, and each want like the dickens to avoid having to play that all-or-nothing wild card game on Friday.  The Orioles play their final three at Tropicana Field against the hot, hot Tampa Bay Rays.  The Yankees finish up at home against the Red Sox.

Technically speaking the Nationals and Rangers have not yet clinched their divisions either, but each hold a three-game lead over their pursuers — the Braves and Athletics, respectively — so any one win by the leader or one loss by the second place team ends those races as well.

The most likely playoff matchups:

The most likely outcomes right now would lead to the following playoff matchups:

  • Wild card playoff: The Cardinals vs. Braves in Atlanta and the loser of the AL East — my guess is the Orioles due to that tough series against Tampa Bay — facing off against the Athletics.  That game will be played in the home park of the team with the better record.
  • Division Series:  The wild card team that advances to the Division Series will face the team with the best record in the league.  At present, the Reds and Nationals have identical 96-63 records. Currently the Rangers have the best record in the AL, but both the Orioles and Yankees are only a game behind.  The upshot: we won’t know until Wednesday who the wild card playoff winner will face.


  • AL MVP:  If the season ended today, Miguel Cabrera would win the Triple Crown. But it doesn’t end today, and his lead for the batting title (.325 to Joe Mauer‘s .323 and Mike Trout‘s .321) and the home run title (tied with Josh Hamilton at 43) are razor-thin.  Many suspect that if Cabrera wins the Triple Crown — a feat which has not been accomplished since 1967 — he will win the MVP.  Others — including your dear author — believe that winning the Triple Crown, however rare and admirable a feat that is does not make up for the fact that Mike Trout is the better all-around player, posting batting numbers that are close to Cabrera’s, but standing as the far, far superior defender and baserunner.
  • NL MVP: The National League has a close race for the MVP as well, although only one of the leading candidates — Buster Posey — is on a playoff-bound team.  Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen are still in the conversation.
  • Cy Young Award: The Cy Young Award races are fairly wide open. In the National League R.A. Dickey still has one start remaining, and we’re likely to still see appearances from the relief candidates who have bandied about: Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman.  The AL Cy Young is even more up-f0r-grabs. Neither Justin Verlander nor David Price will start again, however. Jered Weaver will pitch on the last day of the season and, though remote, it’s possible he’ll be trying to pitch the Angels into the playoffs.
  • Rookies, Managers of the Year: Rookies of the Year haven’t gotten much talk of late, but Mike Trout is a mortal lock in the American League. Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks to be the front runner in the senior circuit.  Most folks figure that Buck Showalter and Davey Johnson have the Manager of the Year awards locked up, and nothing that happens this week will change that.

Three days left. So much already decided, yes. But still so much to play for. Buckle up, everyone.

  1. redsox51 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    F.P. Santangelo thinks if Wade Miley is NL ROY, you don’t know a whole lot about baseball:

    21 seconds in

    • kiwicricket - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      And like he said….take a little off the swing, slap it into left field….

    • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      FP is biased, though he’s honest about his bias.

      • kiwicricket - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        FP is AWFUL. He should be more honest about his awfulness.

  2. baccards - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Yadier Molina MVP, hands down

    • blues1988 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      i wouldn’t say “hands down” because posey is having a better year offensively. I’d just say that he should be in the conversation. don’t think he should win it either but i think he should get some recognition as an mvp runner up. he’s set personal records in most all categories offensively and has been as solid as ever behind the plate but i don’t think he’s had a better year than any of those three mentioned above.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        You’ve just described Carlos Ruiz (another Catcher by the way, it must be the Year of the Catcher)

      • paperlions - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        I think Molina is getting short-changed (or Posey is being over-stated) as Posey has only played a lot of 1B. Molina is the far superior defensive catcher and has caught nearly 200 more innings than Posey…nearly 20% of Posey’s time has been at 1B.

        That said, Posey has a substantial offensive advantage over Molina (mostly due to 32 pt higher OBP). Molina’s defense probably makes up for the offensive difference, but because defensive measurement is rather coarse….Posey will probably get far more support based on offense alone.

        Both have had great years…as have Braun and McCutcheon…..there are solid arguments for all 4….and probably for Chase Headly too.

    • thomas655 - Oct 1, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      bacards, you are correct. Yadi is 5th in the NL in batting average, is hitting for a lot more power than ever before, and is the absolute finest defensive catcher that I have ever seen. Where would the Cards be without Yadi? I hate to think about it.

  3. stlouis1baseball - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:13 AM


  4. iamaltair - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Actually, the rangers only hold a 2 game lead over the athletics so race is a little bit closer than you think.

    • danbeachler - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      If the A’s sweep the Rangers they win the division. They “control their own destiny”

  5. sknut - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Isn’t the AL MOY razor thin between Showalter and Bob Melvin both teams have been amazing and both deserve to win the award. It’s been fun to watch a couple of dead teams rise and play this well.

    • danbeachler - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      Both the O’s and the A’s have amazing stories. The A’s traded away three former all stars this past offseason (Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey) and have an all rookie starting rotation.

      I think the MOY award in the AL will come down to if the O’s or A’s are able to win their division.

      • atworkident - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:19 PM

        The Orioles don’t even have a rotation. Buck wins hands down.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      It’s been fun to watch a couple of dead teams rise and play this well.

      So basically both teams have been scrambling up the rock face of the pit and only one can make it our right?

    • scatterbrian - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      No, it’s totally Showalter’s award because the Orioles play in the AL East. Yes, the AL West has been the best division in baseball this year, but dude….AL East.

      • sknut - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        I can accept that I just haven’t seen a lot of love for Melvin for MOY.

      • scatterbrian - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:40 PM


        agreed…it’s just a comment on how the narrative and thinking will probably go.

  6. dwrek5 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Does anyone know what times the wildcard games will be on or roughly what time? I know the order isn’t set, but are the times?

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      AL around 5:00 P.M. (ET) and the NL around 8:00 P.M. (ET).

      • foreverchipper10 - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:04 PM

        Great…..can’t believe Chippers potential last game ever falls when I will be out celebrating the last birthday of my 20’s. On the flipside it could be a good birthday present with a victory.

  7. Dan McCloskey - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Rays are in the same tenuous position as the Angels: three games behind the A’s with three left to play.

  8. natslady - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    I could do without the excitement. Really. I could. Just clinch, boys, just clinch!!!!!!

  9. thomas2727 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Surprised Bob Melvin is not getting more consideration for Manager of the year.

    It is really too bad it can”t be awarded to both Melvin and Showalter.

    • randomdigits - Oct 1, 2012 at 6:09 PM

      There have ties for awards before, it could happen.

  10. natslady - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    At what point do playoff rosters have to be announced? When Davey hands in the lineup card? Or sooner. Question has been asked on Nats blogs.

    • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      It’s usually 4:00 the day before the series starts. Some of us are old hands at this 😉

      • natslady - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        LOL. Thanks!

      • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM


        From the noises Davey has made, one fan’s guess at the Nats’ roster:

        SP — Gio, Zimmermann, E-Jax, Detwiler.
        RP — Gorzelanny, Stammen, M. Gonzalez, Garcia, Mattheus, Burnett, Clippard, Storen.
        Lineup — Suzuki, LaRoche, Espinosa, Desmond, Zimmerman, Morse, Harper, Werth.
        Bench — Flores, Tracy, Moore, Lombardozzi, Bernadina.

        Lannan and DeRosa would be the odd men out.

      • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        No Strasburg?

      • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:00 PM

        another :)

        Don’t get carried away with a Phillies fan getting two :) from a Nats fan in one day.

      • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:51 PM

        Ahhhh, not much left to fight about, is there?

        Until some South Philly wah-hoo runs on the field tonight, and a huge debate ensure tommroow about just who are the true Phillies fans. Or Lannan decides to go “Old School”, heh-heh :)

      • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 5:45 PM

        James Wagner of The Washington Post notes how this series represents a reversal of furtunes for both teams.

        I was there for the 2010 clincher, one of a handful of Nats fans who endured the entire game. As I recall, Roy Halladay pitched the shutout, gave up a couple of hits. The drunken, obnoxious types congregated around the visitors’ dugout. (Aactually, that tends to be true of every visiting team’s fans. It’s just that Phillies fans tend to be more numerous and louder.). The Phillies fans in the second-level, where I was, were OK.

        I, and others, have said the same thing since last season — the way to reduce the Phillies infestation at Nats Park is for the Nats to win. It has happened. It will be fascinating to see how many show up for this series.

        As for John Lannan going, ahem, old school, nah. Davey is pretty old school, but he’s not into throwing at batters. Seems to me, Cholly isn’t, either. The whole Cole Hamels thing was just an isolated incident. .

  11. kiwicricket - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    MVPH(Most Vile Personal Hygeine) Award is on a knife edge also.
    Overall unkempt appearance and what seems to be a phobia of shampoo might just nab Colby Rasums the award, but finishing strong is Reddick’s rat’s tail and trailer facial hair. A tremendously disgusting appearance by both men, but only one shall take home the hardware.

    • cur68 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Doofus Hairdo Of The Year sees Colby with a lock on that, though. For awhile it looked like Reddick’s Mullet might take the day but Colby put in a strong, and so far unbeatable, bid with the Prat-Making “Corn-Row Slump-Buster”.

      • kiwicricket - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        I think the greasy corn-rows with the speckle facial hair seals it. Unless someone barfs on himself and wears the same unwashed uniform the next day.

  12. historiophiliac - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Got my fingers crossed for McCutchen.

    Did anyone notice that NFL commercial that rips off Cole Hamels’ interview with that little girl earlier this year? It even used the “what’s your bedtime?” question.

  13. dracko19 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    You do realize the criteria for MVP is supposed to be who is most valuable to THEIR TEAM, right? In other words, take player X off that team and who suffers more? Angels have Peter Bourjos backing up Trouts who is an even better defender. Cabrera has….um…Don Kelly? Without Trout, LAA is .500. Without Cabrera, DET is 20 games under.

    The Cy Young in the AL comes down to innings pitched. All the other stats are virtually the same.

    • brainofj01 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      You do realize, using your arguement(which is literally the WAR stat), Cabrera is a 6.9 Wins Above Replacement, while Kelly is a -0.7 WAR. That mean Cabrera is worth 7.6 wins more than his replacement. Trout is a 10.0, while Bourjous is a 1.9. That leaves Trout at 8.1 wins more than his replacement, so still more valuable.

      There is no sane way to look at the Trout/Cabrera debate, and decide that Cabrera is the most valuable player.

      • Jeremy T - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        A difference of 0.5 WAR is small enough to be almost meaningless, though. This is actually the most Cabrera-friendly WAR argument (or WARgument) that I’ve seen.

    • kevinbnyc - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Peter Bourjos, who is a great defender, also is hitting .226 this year. Not saying Don Kelly is a great replacement either, but I think you’re giving Bourjos too much credit.

  14. umrguy42 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    “the Cardinals are two wins — or two Dodgers losses — in any of the final three games away from clinching.”

    Does a combination of 1 Cards win + 1 Dodgers loss do it as well, or not?

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      That would still be (1) game wouldn’t 42?

    • icanspeel - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Correct, because at that point there will be 2 games left and Dodgers would be 3 back.

    • umrguy42 - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      hmm, looking at it – the Cards are 86-73, Dodgers are 84-75. If the Cards win at least one, and the Dodgers lose one, yeah, the Cards have it (87+-??) vs (<=86-??). Go Giants! :p

  15. gigab0t - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    I know we all like to crap on the Tigers infield defense but don’t forget Cabrera is still pulling off grabs like this one:

    …and has been all season.

    • paperlions - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      ….and been making throws like this:

      Every defensive players makes a nice play once in a while, that doesn’t make them great. By any evaluation, Cabrera is a below average 3B.

      • chuckleberry1974 - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:54 PM

        Support your statement. You have bad habits, paperlions. Right or wrong, you need to support a statement like the one you just made.

  16. blacksables - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    So what happens if the Tigers/White Sox tie for the divison crown, and the Cards/Dodgers tie for the last wild card spot.

    I’m an hardcore agnostic, but please God, let it happen.

    I’ll sacrifice a body part for this to happen.

    Hey, Santa? Remember that train set I didn’t get when I was 7. You owe me one.

    If there is truly justice in the world, this will happen.

  17. husky2score - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Does anybody know when the ALDS series times usually are?

    • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      FYI, MLB’s tiebreaking procedures (since there are so many possible ties):

      • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        oops, put this in the wrong place.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      The link I meant to post here, to the playoff schedule. Note that all of the times are TBA.

      There is no “usual” start time. MLB and the relevant networks will get together and decide on who will play on what day at what time.

      TBS has times blocked out on its daily schedule for playoff games. Of course, it doesn’t know who will play when.

  18. ob1canobie - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    I love it! The Red Sox are back in the roll I loved them for all those years before 2004… the spoiler. Nothing would make me feel better than to beat them to hand the O’s the division!!

  19. Old Gator - Oct 1, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    This isn’t the Best Player Award. I give Cabrera the Most Valuable Player award in a heartbeat. Do the Angels finish out of the running without Trout anyway? Yep. Do the Tiggers take the Central without Cabrera? Nope. Case closed.

    • The Rabbit - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      We agree entirely. Most valuable…not the best.
      You reminded me of an anecdote in the book “Kiner’s Korner”.
      IIRC, Kiner had led the league in HR’s and had a great year for the Pirates. He went for a raise and was told by Rickey, “We finished last with you. We can finish last without you.”

      • thekcubrats - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:39 AM

        Hmmm. Do the Angels contend without Trout? Nope. They were worse than the Feesh before he arrived and made fierce by his arrival. Do the Tigers still woefully underperform without MCab? Yep. Just because the Fat Cats play in such a carp-y division and the Angels play in the best division in baseball… Huh.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:20 PM

      Not so fast. Would the Angels still be alive with only 3 games left in the season without Trout? Nope. Are the Angels actually better than the Tigers? Yep. Case still open, I think.

      Both are worthy.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      Rays win. The dream’s alive! At least until the A’s game is done.

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