As Major League Baseball enters the final few weeks of the regular season, the basic contours of the pennant race are far from being set in stone. This very well might be the wildest October in baseball history. Who’s ready for October Madness?
For six-and-a-half decades, baseball invited only two teams to its postseason extravaganza. Those were the days. It’s now 2012, and Commissioner Bud Selig and friends have created a new format with two extra wild cards to make things…more interesting. Here’s exactly how they envisioned September to be: Three weeks left in the season. Fifteen teams within five games of a playoff spot. Drama in the standings just about everywhere you look.
If the 2012 MLB regular season ended today, the New York Yankees would travel to Chicago to face the White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles or the Oakland Athletics would square off in a Wild Card and the winner would advance to meet the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series. In the National League, the San Francisco Giants would face the Cincinnati Reds and the defending World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals would go up against the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card, with the top-seeded Washington Nationals awaiting the winner for the National League Division Series. With 23 days still remaining in the regular season, there are fifteen teams with at least 10 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to Coolstandings.com. These fifteen teams are also ranked No. 1-15 in the ESPN’s Power Rankings (PR) this week, from the ‘Nats sitting atop of the summit to the Pittsburg Pirates at No. 15.
With fifteen teams competing for ten playoffs spots, their remaining schedules will become major factors. The Nationals, A’s and the Los Angeles Dodgers have the toughest roads ahead of them. The Yanks, White Sox could suffer major collapses in September if they can’t stay healthy. If Tampa Bay and Baltimore keep compounding the pressure, it will be a long month for the Bronx Bombers. The same goes for the White Sox. A four-game set starting Monday against the Detroit Tigers will be crucial, as Chicago’s final four series are against the Los Angeles Angels and the Rays. And although the Braves currently hold the wild-card lead, both of their primary competitors, the Cardinals and the Dodgers, are dangerous, with St. Louis having the second-best run differential in the NL and L.A. making some big moves to improve its roster.
So, the commish deserves much of the credit for the potentially riveting finish that appears to be in store for baseball. How will the new schedule affect the outcome of the 2012 MLB playoff race?
Image: Talking Chop