We’re another week closer to the playoffs and everybody else is watching football. But I still love America’s pastime, so here’s another week of baseball analysis:
Detroit deserves to make the playoffs. Offensively, they have the best batting average in baseball (.277), the best On Base Percentage (.332), the second most runs (681) and the second highest slugging percentage (.428). Their pitching staff is 11th in quality starts and boasts some of the most battle tested starters in baseball. And yet, they are somehow a half game back in the Wild Card race and a game back in the Central. They play the Royals five more times, including twice over the next few days; of these, they need to win at least three. Both the Tigers and Royals will be playing easy schedules when they aren’t playing each other and the Tigers will not catch up if they don’t start on at least equal footing. The Wild Card is a different story, however; I expect Seattle to lose some tough games against the Angels and give Detroit the spot. On that note…
What an amazing time to be a Los Angeles baseball fan, for both the Angels and the Dodgers. The Dodgers have had above-average offensive stats all season, but their team pitching- already excellent- has been carried by a dominant Clayton Kershaw, leading the league with a 1.67 ERA and 18 wins. It’s almost a guaranteed win when Kershaw takes the mound. The Angels, on the other hand, cannot stop scoring; winners of six straight, they have more runs scored than any other team in baseball. This is, in no small part, thanks to Mike Trout, who is second in the league with 103 RBI and also possesses the highest Wins Above Replacement stat in baseball at 6.9. Yes, that’s right, Mike Trout is literally the most valuable player in baseball right now.
The rest of the league is praying both of these teams lose in the divisional round. They won’t.
The NL Wild Card
If the AL Wild Card looks straightforward- it is, Detroit and Seattle are fighting and Oakland is trying not to collapse. The NL Wild Card is the exact opposite. San Francisco has a comfortable hold on the first spot and Pittsburgh has a tenuous game and a half lead to hold the second, but that’s exactly where it gets interesting. Atlanta and Milwaukee are both a game and a half back from the Wild Card and have little hope of winning their divisions, and both play a series against Pittsburgh in the last week of the season.
If you’re a Pirates fan, Atlanta is to be feared. The Braves are a solid team, especially at home, where the Bucs will meet them later this month. On the other hand, Milwaukee held a lead on the Central a week and a half ago before utterly imploding; they’ve lost 12 of their last 13, including a 9 game losing streak. There is no reason to believe they’ll be able to shape up anytime soon.
Final predictions before it becomes too easy:
AL East: Orioles
AL Central: Royals
AL West: Angels
AL 1st Wild Card: Athletics
AL 2nd Wild Card: Tigers
NL East: Nationals
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
NL 1st Wild Card: Giants
NL 2nd Wild Card: Pirates
Photo: ABC News