This week I will do an AL Playoff Race Special. I will cover every team that I think is still in contention for the playoffs.
1. New York Yankees (94-54, +6): They have basically won the division. They only play the Red Sox three more times, and have three games against the Royals and three games against the Rays. The Yankees have scored the most runs in all of baseball (845) and are one of only two teams that have score 800 runs on the year. But they have allowed the 6th most runs in the AL and if the season ended right now, they would have allowed the 2nd most runs out of all the playoff teams (and have allowed only three less than the Angels). Their playoff rotation will be CC Sabathia at #1, who has a career 7.92 playoff ERA in five starts, in which he walked 22 batters in just 25 innings and has allowed four home runs. #2 is AJ Burnett, who has won only one game in his last 10 starts. He also had a 6.03 ERA in August, and has a 4.97 ERA so far in September. #3 will probably be Andy Pettitte, who not only has an ERA over 4.80 in all but two months this season, but three of his last five starts have been horrible. A lot of people are saying that they are the playoff favorite, but I disagree, because the playoffs aren’t about hitting, they’re about pitching, and that’s why I have them losing in the first round if they end up playing the Tigers.
2. Boston Red Sox (87-59, -6 of div., +7 of WC): The Red Sox have pretty much clinched the Wild Card. They are seven games up on the Rangers, and don’t play the Rangers anymore this season. But the Red Sox also have a major problem. They are only 35-37 on the road, and, as the Wild Card, that means they will not have home-field advantage. They will most likely be facing the Angels, who are 44-27 at home. Not a good combination for Boston. They do have a pretty good top two in their rotation, though, in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. I just don’t see them getting by the Angels with that road record, though, and if they do get by them, I just don’t see them getting by the next team they play after that. They also have only a 28-21 record against lefties, and the Angels will have a lefty in their playoff rotation.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (75-73, E in div., -13 in WC)
4. Toronto Blue Jays (66-81, E in div., E in WC)
5. Baltimore Orioles (60-87, E in div., E in WC)
1. Detroit Tigers (78-69, +3): The Tigers are three games up on Minnesota, and play the Twins six more times this year, including four at home. Like the Yankees and Red Sox, though, the Tigers have a major fault. They have allowed more runs than they have scored. They have scored 670 runs (11th in the AL), and have allowed 673 runs (4th in the AL). But that can also be good, because that means that they have been successful in close games (26-20), which there seems to be a lot of in the playoffs. I think that they are a dangerous team in the AL for the playoffs because they have Justin Verlander (16-8, 3.34) who already has playoff experience, Jarrod Washburn (9-9, 3.78) who also has playoff experience, and Edwin Jackson (12-7, 3.37), who also has playoff experience. Two of those three pitchers were All-Stars this year (Verlander and Jackson), and one of them was a near miss (Washburn). If they decide to go with the four-man rotation, they also have Rick Porcello (13-9, 4.22). Even though they haven’t scored a whole lot of runs, Magglio Ordonez (playoff experience) has just started to turn it on, Miguel Cabrera (playoff experience) is hitting .330 with 30 home runs, Brandon Inge (playoff experience) has hit 27 home runs, Curtis Granderson (playoff experience) has hit 27 home runs, Carlos Guillen (playoff experience) has a .344 batting average in his three playoff years, Placido Polanco (playoff experience) has struck out only 38 times this year, Aubrey Huff has 83 RBI’s, and Adam Everett (playoff experience) is a great defensive shortstop.
2. Minnesota Twins (75-72, -3 of div., -12.5 of WC): I don’t think that the Twins will make the playoffs because of their pitching. If they do make the playoffs, I don’t think they’ll get out of the first round because of their pitching. If they do make it out of the first round, I don’t think they’ll get out of the second round because of their pitching. They won’t make it to the World Series. There is no way. Their number one pitcher has a 4.35 ERA (Scott Baker). Their number two pitcher has a 4.91 ERA (Carl Pavano). Their number three starter has a 4.34 ERA (Nick Blackburn). Their number four pitcher has a 5.71 ERA (Francisco Liriano). Their number five pitcher hasn’t thrown 75 innings yet this season (Brian Duensing). No matter how well Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau hit, you can’t make up for that kind of pitching when you make it into the postseason (if they do make it there).
3. Chicago White Sox (72-76, -6.5 of div., E in WC)
4. Cleveland Indians (61-86, E in div., E in WC)
5. Kansas City Royals (60-87, E in div., E in WC)
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (more commonly known as the dumbest name in baseball) (88-59, +7.5): The Angels, unless they have a Mets-esque meltdown, will win the West and play Boston in the first round of the playoffs. But I don’t think they’ll make it all the way to the World Series, because of their pitching. Unless the Marlins win the NL Wild Card, the Angels will have allowed the most runs out of all the playoff teams. You can’t win many playoff games by scoring 5, 6, 7 runs, because you normally can’t do that since you’ll only be facing the best pitchers on the other team. I just don’t see them going very far in the playoffs with that kind of pitching.
2. Texas Rangers (80-66, -7.5 of div., -7 of WC): Unless the Rangers have a Rockie-like run and the Angels have a Met-like meltdown, the Rangers will not make the playoffs this year. But the Rangers have stayed in the race for this long due to going completely opposite from their usual selves. There are only two teams in the AL that have allowed less runs than the Rangers. But the Rangers are only 8th in runs scored, and have picked some of the most inopportune times to be shut out or to score only one or two runs. But unlike the other five teams in the AL playoff race, the Rangers don’t really have a big Achilles’ heel when it comes to the situational records. But the one the Rangers do have (besides runs scored) is on-base percentage (.319). The Royals and the Mariners are the only American League teams with worse on-base percentages.
3. Seattle Mariners (77-71, -11.5 of div., -11 of WC)
4. Oakland Athletics (69-78, E in div., E in WC)
Come back next week for my end-of-season All-Stars.