Playoff hunt heats up
The Major League Baseball postseason is approaching quickly with only nine games remaining for most teams, and many divisional races that have yet to be decided. Close wild-card races will come down to the final games to determine the 10 playoff teams of the 2012 season.
All of the American League divisional races have two teams in contention to win their respective division. The Oakland Athletics are the team with the toughest route to win their division and they are only five games back.
The AL East is a tight race primarily between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees have been able to overcome adversity and injuries through the leadership and play of Derek Jeter, despite his age. The Orioles have many young talented players who have been molded by veteran leadership to put them in a position to make a title run.
The AL Central is a close duel between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox have benefitted from a well-balanced pitching staff with the help of Cy Young-contender Chris Sale. Sale has tallied 17 wins this year with a 2.86 ERA. The big bats of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn have been leading the scoring effort of the Sox. The Detroit Tigers offense has been led by Miguel Cabrera with a .331 batting average and 42 home runs on the season.
The AL West has been dominated by the Texas Rangers for the majority of the season but the Oakland Athletics have been playing well and have shortened the gap. The Rangers have been led by the offensive performance of Josh Hamilton with 43 home runs this season. Oakland’s resurgence has been led by a total team effort from both the pitching staff and young hitters.
The NL divisional races have been determined for the teams leading their respective divisions, but the wild card race has yet to be decided.
The Washington Nationals have clinched a playoff berth from the NL East despite the shutting-down of ace Stephen Strasburg after a 15-win season. The 20 wins from Gio Gonzalez and comeback year from Adam La Roche have propelled the Nationals to their first playoff berth since 1933.
The NL Central has been dominated by the Cincinnati Reds despite the injury to their star, Joey Votto. Johnny Cueto has led the pitching staff with a 2.84 ERA and 18 wins. The flame-throwing, Aroldis Chapman, has helped the bullpen with 35 saves.
The NL West has been clinched by the San Francisco Giants despite the poor year from Cy Young winning pitcher, Tim Lincecum. Lincecum has a dismal record of 10-14 this year. Angel Pagan and Buster Posey’s bats have picked up following the suspension of Melky Cabrera.
Baltimore and Oakland would be the AL wild-card teams if the season ended today. The streaking Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays are looking to make a push to enter the postseason if they can string together a few more wins.
The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals would be the NL wild-card teams if the season ended today. The Milwaukee Brewers and Dodgers are both 3.5 games back and would almost need to win out to have a chance at the postseason.
It is going to be an interesting end to the season and more story lines will unfold. The hunt for October has almost drawn to a close and the excitement of postseason baseball is ready to begin.
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