December 1, 2021

Climbing the Ladder with the American League 9/14/08

September 14, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

We Talk about Playoffs, Playoffs and more Playoffs in this week’s Climbing the Ladder with the American League.

A.L. East W L PCT. GB L10 STRK
Tampa Bay 88 58 .603 4-6 L1
Boston 87 61 .588 2.0 6-4 W1
Toronto 80 69 .537 9.5 7-3 L1
New York 78 70 .527 11.0 4-6 W1
Baltimore 65 82 .442 23.5 2-8 L2

Tampa Bay Rays (+90 Run Differential)

The Tampa Bay Rays are battling to win the division for the first time in the history of the franchise and according to Baseball Prospectus the Rays have a 74.02% chance of doing so.  Tampa has a 25.9% chance of winning the Wild Card but that could drastically change with the outcome of next weeks games with Boston. The good news for the Rays is that they got Evan Longoria back this weekend and the offense will welcome another bat of his caliber to the line up.  Longoria started the first game of a double header on Saturday going 2-5 with a run and 2 RBI’s.  In the second game, Longoria pinch hit for Ben Zobrist, while getting a hit and driving in a run, finishing the day 3-6 with a run and and 3 RBI’s.  The Rays also called up the #1 pitching prospect in baseball in David Price.  Price will likely pitch in a limited role out of the bullpen for the remainder of the Ray’s 16 games.

Boston Red Sox (+157 Run Differential)

The Boston Red Sox can virtually end Toronto’s playoff push with a win today at Fenway.  Boston easily won on Friday night 7-0 then swapped wins and losses on Saturday during their doubleheader.  If Boston can win today, and then take their up coming series in Tampa, they could be in a perfect position to win the division.  Boston is a virtual lock for the playoffs, having a 99.44% chance of clinching a playoff birth according to Baseball Prospectus.  Scott Kazmir will face Dice-K Matsuzaka for the second time in a week on Monday, followed by Beckett/Sonnanstine on Tuesday and Wakefield/Garza on Wednesday. All eyes in Boston and Tampa will be on this series.

Toronto Blue Jays (+95 Run Differential)

Toronto’s run at the playoffs has almost come to an end.  Toronto made a last ditch effort at locking a playoff spot this week when they decided to throw their best on only 3 days rest.  Toronto will have to win almost all of their remaining games against Baltimore (6, 3 home/3 away) and take 2 of 3 from Boston and New York at home next week to even sniff playoff hopes.  Baseball Prospectus gives Toronto just a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs so it’s save to say that the Blue Jay’s season is over.

A.L. Central W L PCT. GB L10 STRK
Chicago 81 65 .555 4-6 L1
Minnesota 82 66 .554 5-5 W2
Cleveland 72 76 .486 10.0 5-5 L2
Detroit 70 76 .479 11.0 4-6 L2
Kansas City 64 84 .432 18.0 5-5 W2

Chicago White Sox (+86 Run Differential)

Chicago is in a dog fight with the Minnesota Twins for the American League Central and lead’s the division by just .001 percentage points.  Its highly unlikely that the Wild Card will come out of the Central so its do or die for the rest of the season.  Chicago has just 5 remaining home games against Detroit and Cleveland and will have to really play well to finish strong.  The American League Central may come down to the 3 game series in Minnesota beginning on the 23rd of September.  Baseball Prospectus gives Chicago a 58.28 percent chance of making the playoffs but with the loss of Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko for at least a few games will make a divisional win that much harder for Chicago.

Minnesota Twins (+100 Run Differential)

The Minnesota Twins are in perfect position to win the American League Central.  The Twins have 7 of their 14 remaining games against teams with a record below .500 (1 Baltimore, 3 Cleveland,  3 Kansas City) but the bad news is that the other 7 games are against the Rays (4 away) and White Sox (3 home).  Baseball Prospectus gives the Twins just a 41.89% chance of making the playoffs but I feel a lot better about the Twins playing in October than I do about Chicago.

A.L. West W L PCT. GB L10 STRK
Los Angeles 91 57 .615 7-3 W4
Texas 73 76 .490 18.5 6-4 L1
Oaklandd 68 80 .459 23.0 5-5 W1
Seattle 57 90 .388 33.5 3-7 L3

Los Angeles Angels (+70 Run Differential)

The Angeles are in the playoffs.  The only real concern for Los Angeles is how the team will react to their layoff in meaningful games until the playoffs start.  Even though the Angels have the most wins in Major League Baseball and were the first to clinch a playoff spot, the Angels are not the best team in baseball.  The Angels rank 13th in runs scored and are 5th in runs allowed.  They rank 20th in the Majors in OPS and ranks 18th in OBP and are 20th in slugging.  In the American League, LA ranks 10th in slugging, 11th in OBP with just the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, and Oakland Athletics doing worse.  Over the last month, the Angels rank 4th in the American League in ERA (3.76) behind the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, & Tampa Bay Rays.  It Angel pitching begins to falter, it could spell an early exit from the playoffs for LA.

Other News and Notes:

Derek Jeter is just 3 hits shy of  Lou Gehrig’s all-time record 1,269 hits at Yankee Stadium and will likely gain sole possession of 1st place this week.  Jeter also hit his 2.518th hit on Saturday, passing Babe Ruth for sole possession of 2nd place on the franchise all-time hit list…only Lou Gehrig has has more hits in franchise history.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 20 games were on the MLB schedule for Saturday  but due to rain, only 18 were played.  It’s only the 3rd time in the last 10 years that 18-or-more games were played in the same day.  The last time 20 games were played on the same day August 4th, 1974.

Cliff Lee moved to 20 games above .500 for the seaon on Friday with his victory over the Kansas City Royals.  According to Elias, Lee is just the 9th pitcher since 1956 to stand at least 20 games over .500 at any point in the season.  Each of his eight pitchers to achieve the feat before him won the Cy Young that season: Don Newcombe (1956), Whitey Ford (1961), Sandy Koufax (1963), Denny McLain (1968), Ron Guidry (1978), Dwight Gooden (1985), Roger Clemens(1986) and Bob Welch (1990).

The 18-year span between Welch and Lee was the longest stretch in major-league history without a pitcher going 20 games above .500 in a season.

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