The 2012 Major League Baseball season is entering its final weekend. We know the New York Yankees are locked in an intense fight for the American League East title with the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees and O's, though, are not the only teams locked in struggles to reach the playoffs. In the American League almost nothing has been decided entering the final weekend. In the National League, the playoff picture is nearly set.
Let's look at the races.
Scenario: The Yankees lead the Orioles by one game and the Tampa Bay Rays by four games. All three teams have six games to play.
Schedules: Yankees -- Three games at Toronto Blue Jays, three games vs. Boston Red Sox; Orioles -- Three games vs. Red Sox, three games at Rays; Rays -- Three games at Chicago White Sox, three games vs. Rays.
Prediction: The Yankees should win the division. New York's remaining games are against AL East bottom-feeders. The Orioles and Rays finish the season against each other. MLB.com gives the Yankees an 82.5 percent chance of winning the division and a 99.5 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. I would agree.
Scenario: The Detroit Tigers, who struggled to find a winning formula much of the year, now lead the White Sox by two games with six to play.
Schedules: Tigers -- Two games at Minnesota Twins, one game vs. Twins at home (makeup game), three games at Kansas City Royals; White Sox -- Three games vs. Rays, three games at Cleveland Indians.
Prediction: The Tigers are going to win this division. The reeling White Sox have gone 2-8 in their last 10 games, and they are facing a Tampa Bay team right now that has eight straight victories. The Tigers, meanwhile, are just hitting their stride.
Scenario: The Texas Rangers lead the Oakland Athletics by four games and have a magic number of just three to clinch the division. The two teams just concluded a four-game series, which they split.
Schedules: Rangers -- Three games vs. Anaheim Angels, three games at Oakland; Athletics -- Three games vs. Seattle Mariners, three games vs. Rangers.
Prediction: It would be nice if those final three games between the Rangers and Athletics decided the division, but they won't. Texas will wrap it up before then.
Remember, this year for the first time there are two wild-card teams. Here are your standings.
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||86||70||.551||3||Lost 2|
|Los Angeles||86||70||.551||3||Lost 1|
(updated 9.28.2012 at 10:23 AM EDT)
The real question is simple. Can either the Rays or Angels catch one of the two teams in front of them? The Yankees, of course, could end up in this mix if they falter over the final few games.
Prediction: Baltimore and Oakland, two unlikely playoff teams, hang on to grab these spots.
Scenario: The Washington Nationals lead the Atlanta Braves by four games and have a magic number of three to clinch the division. Both teams have already clinched playoff berths.
Schedules: Nationals -- Three games at St. Louis Cardinals, three games vs. Philadelphia Phillies; Braves -- Three games vs. New York Mets, three games at Pittsburgh Pirates.
Prediction: The Nationals win the division and the Braves are the top-seeded wild-card.
Clinched by the Cincinnati Reds.
Clinched by the San Francisco Giants.
Not really much intrigue here. It looks like Atlanta gets one spot and the Cardinals get the other. Here are your standings:
National League Wild Card Standings
|St. Louis||84||72||.538||7||Lost 1|
|Los Angeles||81||75||.519||10||Won 2|
Prediction: Nothing to see here. Atlanta and St. Louis make the one-game wild-card playoff.