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 22, 2014, 3:19 PM EDT
Oakland’s outfield depth just got a little stronger with Craig Gentry coming off the disabled list after missing the past month with a broken hand.
Aug 22, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT
Seven games in ten days for the AL West leaders
Aug 22, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT
Machado suffered a sprained right knee on August 11 and the Orioles have mostly been using Chris Davis at third base in his absence.
Aug 22, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT
This has been such a fun story so far. So why NOT throw politics into it?
Aug 22, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
Robinson Cano has a $240 million contract, his new team has a better record than his old team, and he’s hitting .329 with an .865 OPS that’s slightly above his career mark.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT
Can he make it to the bigs on a new path for a third time?
Aug 22, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
If any team is going to keep a manager after four straight 90-loss seasons the Twins are the one to do it.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
The Red Sox paid a lot of money to get this guy. Expect him in the Sox’ outfield early next season.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
With the Reds down 8-0 to the Braves last night manager Bryan Price decided to save the bullpen and turned to utility man Skip Schumaker to work the ninth inning.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
It’s cool to love what you loved when you were 20. It’s not cool to claim that what you loved when you were 20 is the only thing worth loving.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Aroldis Chapman gave the Reds a big scare when he walked all four batters he faced Sunday and then was unavailable for several days with an “achy” left shoulder, but the flame-throwing closer was back in action Thursday night.
Aug 22, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT
My buns have no seeds.
Aug 22, 2014, 9:27 AM EDT
I think he’d have a pretty tough sled, actually.
Aug 22, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!
Barney: Lord Palmerston!
Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!
Barney: Okay, you asked for it, Boggs!
Aug 22, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT
Whatever motivates you, dude.
Aug 22, 2014, 6:33 AM EDT
Another Washington walkoff. Another dominant Clayton Kershaw start. And some unusual stuff happened too.
Aug 21, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT
Padres closer Joaquin Benoit hasn’t appeared in a game since last Wednesday due to soreness in his throwing shoulder.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:51 PM EDT
Impending free agent Michael Cuddyer will almost certainly finish his season in a Rockies uniform.
Aug 21, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Castillo could reportedly make his decision this weekend.
Aug 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
Royals catcher Salvador Perez was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with tightness in his right knee, but an MRI on Thursday revealed no structural damage.
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- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 82
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