Oct 1, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT
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 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.
Aug 28, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT
Oh, and if you didn’t know: ESPN is a tool of ISIS.
Aug 28, 2015, 8:02 AM EDT
Zack Greinke is doing things guys have not done since the Dead Ball era. And I do not mean making scary faces like that.
Aug 27, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
Just your standard 1-3-1 putout.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:52 PM EDT
Brutal news here for the Nationals.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
After losing Yunel Escobar on a hit-by-pitch, Michael Taylor left tonight’s game against the Padres when he crashed into the outfield fence.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:27 PM EDT
So, that thing about the Nationals’ projected Opening Day lineup finally being in place?
Aug 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano hit another mammoth blast tonight against the Rays. The only problem is that the catwalk at Tropicana Field got in the way.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
Jones was forced to exit Thursday’s game after colliding with the center field fence.
Aug 27, 2015, 7:13 PM EDT
After being designated for assignment by the Mariners over the weekend, Rodney will be reunited with Joe Maddon in Chicago.
Aug 27, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT
Bumgarner also had a heck of a day on the mound.
Aug 27, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
Bonds filed a grievance on the grounds that he was blackballed from the game following the 2007 season.
Aug 27, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT
Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez did his best to catch up to the heat from Reds closer Aroldis Chapman this afternoon.
Aug 27, 2015, 5:34 PM EDT
Fernandez missed much of the season recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Aug 27, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT
No shorts, though. Major bummer.
Aug 27, 2015, 4:22 PM EDT
Its not often we have reason to cheer the decisions ESPN makes but today we do.
Aug 27, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT
Time is still undefeated.
Aug 27, 2015, 3:24 PM EDT
Aug 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT
This is a great slice of weird, totally suitable for killing time on a slow afternoon. Bonus: Bon Jovi is tangentially involved.
Aug 27, 2015, 2:16 PM EDT
Los Angeles acquired Callaspo from Atlanta in a late-May trade.
Aug 27, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT
Last week’s rumored trade with the Dodgers apparently fell through.
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 31
- Denard Span headed back to DL with hip inflammation, unlikely to return this season 3
- Report: Barry Bonds loses collusion case against MLB 39
- Jessica Mendoza to sit in for Curt Schilling on Sunday Night Baseball this week 78
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 78
- MLB “actively studying” fan safety; Phillies plan to expand netting at Citizens Bank Park 28
- Marlins might move in and lower the fences at Marlins Park 26
- Astros beat the suddenly skidding Yankees, top last year’s win total 30
- Dan Patrick: When does ESPN cut ties with Curt Schilling? (201)
- Curt Schilling taken off of Little League World Series duty for making a really bad tweet (169)
- Curt Schilling taken off of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast this week (134)
- Phillies announcer calls Mets fans “obnoxious” (122)
- Let’s all argue about team chemistry again (118)