Oct 1, 2012, 11:00 AM EST
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.
Dec 19, 2013, 3:02 PM EST
One day after trading Danny Valencia for outfielder David Lough the Orioles have added some more outfield depth, with Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reporting that they’ve agreed to a minor-league deal with Xavier Paul. Paul has bounced around a lot without getting a ton of extended chances, hitting .254 with 12 homers and…
Dec 19, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has a great post up that looks at the historical standards for the Hall of Fame and notes that Hall of Fame voters are being way, way, way harder on the current crop of candidates than their predecessors ever were on past candidates. Specifically: typically, between 1% and 2% of major…
Dec 19, 2013, 2:14 PM EST
Two offseasons ago Tsuyoshi Wada left Japan to sign a two-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore, but he underwent Tommy John elbow surgery before ever throwing a pitch for the Orioles. He hit the free agent market again after having a $5 million team option declined and now Wada has agreed to a minor-league deal…
Dec 19, 2013, 1:49 PM EST
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has had $3.6 million seized from his bank accounts as the result of a legal dispute with a baseball school in the Dominican Republic. The upshot: the baseball school claims that Castro’s father agreed to give the school a percentage of Castro’s…
Legendary Pictures’ Thomas Tull — the Producer of “42″ — named to the Hall of Fame Board of Directors
Dec 19, 2013, 12:58 PM EST
Thomas Tull, the chairman and CEO of Legendary Entertainment — which has produced countless movies including Pacific Rim, The Dark Knight, The Hangover movies, Watchmen, 300, Inception, Clash of the Titans, Man of Steel and The Town – has been elected to the Board of Directors for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, it was announced today. Of…
Dec 19, 2013, 12:32 PM EST
Corey Brown was designated for assignment by the Nationals last week and today they traded the 27-year-old outfielder to the A’s for cash considerations. Or traded him back to the A’s, since Brown was drafted 59th overall by Oakland in 2007 and then traded to Washington in the Josh Willingham deal in December of 2010.…
Dec 19, 2013, 12:05 PM EST
Jon Morosi reports that the White Sox are near an agreement with free agent reliever Scott Downs. Rosenthal says it’s a one-year deal for $4 million, with a vesting option that could make it two-years, $8 million. Downs, most recently with Atlanta, is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.49 ERA and…
Dec 19, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Nelson Cruz is still a free agent and still talking to the Rangers about potentially re-signing, but both Cruz and general manager Jon Daniels have made a reunion sound highly unlikely. Here’s what Cruz told Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star Telegram: It’s been tough, but I understand it’s part of the process. Hopefully,…
Dec 19, 2013, 11:31 AM EST
John Jaha, Jamie Navarro, Chris Bosio and 55 others finally get their due! The Brewers announced Thursday the creation of a team Wall of Honor at Miller Park in 2014 as a way of honoring players who carved niches in franchise lore during their playing days and time as staff members in Milwaukee. The Wall…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EST
Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy spoke with Fox’s Jimmy Traina and told him that protective headgear for pitchers is likely going to be available in 2014. It won’t be mandatory — McCarthy and most other pitchers are opposed to that at the moment — but the fact that there will be an approved and available piece…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:30 AM EST
Major League Baseball sought to depose Alex Rodriguez‘s cousin Yuri Sucart in the lawsuit it filed against Biogenesis and lots of other folks. That is, the lawsuit which gave Major League Baseball the handle with which to turn Anthony Bosch and others as it pursued Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other ballplayers. Over the summer Sucart filed a writ…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
Greg Reynolds, who was the second overall pick in a stacked 2006 draft, has signed with the Seibu Lions in Japan after posting a 7.01 ERA in the majors. Even at the time of the draft many people questioned why the Rockies went with Reynolds, whose upside was considered modest coming out of Stanford. Evan…
Dec 19, 2013, 9:10 AM EST
Juan Gonzalez made something like $90 million in salary alone during his baseball career, so maybe he’s doing this to simply clear out the clutter. But whatever the motivation, you can now get your hands on some hot, hot Juan Gonzalez memorabilia. Up for auction? His 1996 MVP award. His 1996 and 2001 Silver Slugger…
Dec 19, 2013, 8:40 AM EST
There are a couple of reports this morning that Chien-Ming Wang has signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds with a spring training invitation. We last saw Wang getting shellacked in a July game for the Toronto Blue Jays, in which he couldn’t escape the second inning after allowing six runs on eight hits…
Dec 19, 2013, 7:06 AM EST
Big news from Japan this morning. The New York Times passes along reports from Japan that the Rakuten Golden Eagles will not post Masahiro Tanaka. Rather, as reported last night, they are going to offer him a contract in the neighborhood of $8 million and force him to stay in Japan. This would be way…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:26 PM EST
From Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune: The Cubs signed free agent left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league deal, according to a source. The deal is said to include incentives if he makes the major league roster. There was a report earlier this week that Sanchez was drawing free agent interest from seven or…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:14 PM EST
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that free agent Luke Scott has agreed to a contract with the SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization. The financial details have not been disclosed, but it’s probably safe to assume that the deal comes with a hefty salary given that the KBO doesn’t often attract legitimate…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
NPB Tracker’s Patrick Newman translated the report from Sports Hochi in Japan … Looks like Rakuten is not giving up on Tanaka. Hochi says they are going to offer him an $8m salary. http://t.co/PJRk1Cqa0U — Patrick Newman (@npbtracker) December 19, 2013 It would be the highest single-season salary ever given out to a Nippon Professional…
Dec 18, 2013, 7:37 PM EST
With the Rays still asking the moon for ace David Price, the Mariners have apparently moved on to other options for upgrading their starting rotation. According to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, the Seattle front office has been showing “continued interest” in free agent right-hander Ervin Santana. There was a report in November stating that Santana…
Dec 18, 2013, 6:23 PM EST
MLB.com’s Corey Brock passes along word of this minor transaction … More #Padres action: The team has traded Jesus Guzman to the #Astros for INF Ryan Jackson. — Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) December 18, 2013 Guzman, 29, is a .259/.324/.418 career hitter in 930 plate appearances at the major league level. He’s limited defensively to the…