Friday, October 01, 2010

Final Weekend

The regular season of Major League Baseball boils down to this final weekend. I have seldomly been a fan of the Wild Card system since it was introduced back in the 90's. I think it largely makes divisional pennant race lackadaisic and moot down the stretch.

The American league has pretty much been set in terms of whom is making the playoffs. Minnesota and Texas have wrapped up their divisions easily. Minnesota by 8 games and Texas by 16. The only question in the AL is whether the Yankees or Rays will be the AL East Winner. The other will be the Wild Card team. The Yankees have the unenviable task of playing their last series at Boston. Boston would love nothing better than to make the Yankees be the Wild Card team. I presume there will be a one game playoff if the Rays and Yankees have identical records after their respective 3 game series. The Rays get to play the KC Royals for their final three games. Neither team has been that inspiring over the last 10 games, but my money would be on the Rays to win the division.

In the National League, the Braves seem to be sitting pretty for the Wild Card, as they sit a good two games up on either the Padres or Giants. The Giants and Padres have largely been fighting the "who wants to lose the NL West?" battle for a while. The Giants seem to have finally taken the lead in the NL West, going 8-2 in their last 10 while the Padres have limped along at 5-5 for their last 10 games. Whoever loses the NL West goes home for the season. Unless the Braves lose all 3 of their final games to Philly (not outside the realm of possibility) and The Padres or Giants (whoever ends up in 2nd) win all 3 of their final series, the Braves are pretty much assured the Wild Card. Given this is Bobby Cox's last season before retirement, I can't imagine the Braves would have that much of a collapse meltdown.

Thus, if I am reading the standings and rules correctly, I would predict the MLB playoffs would look like this:

AL East Winner (probably the Rays) will play AL West Winner Texas, and the Wild Card (Presumably the Yankees) would play Minnesota.
NL East Winner Philly would play (I believe) Cincinnati as the Wild Card Winner Braves have to play the team with the best record outside their own division. In this case, since Philly has the best record, Atlanta would play San Francisco, provided the Giants win the division.

Of course, all this depends on the final 3 games. If Cincinnati sweeps and the Giants lose all three, then it would likely be Atlanta/Cincinnati.

That's the fun of baseball. Statistics are everything.

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