Results tagged ‘ Wild Card ’
It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 Major League Baseball regular season is almost over. Today marks exactly one month until the final games of the season, on September 28th, and teams are making their final push towards the postseason, with every player doing their best to finish out the season strong. With all of this going on, I thought I’d post an entry on the five main storylines I plan to watch throughout the final stretch.
200 Hits for Jose Altuve
Leading all of baseball in batting average (.332) and with 14 more hits on the season than the player with the second most hits, Jose Altuve is well on his way to recording his first 200 hit season of his career. With 181 hits this year, Altuve should easily make it to what has become a somewhat rare achievement.
The last time any player recorded 200 or more hits in a season was back in 2009, when Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano all did it. For Altuve, he’s set to become only the second Astros player to ever record 200 hits in a season, with Craig Biggio, doing so in 1998, being the other.
Though Altuve is too far back to break Ichiro Suzuki’s all-time hit record for a season of 262 hits, it should be interesting to see how many hits he can amass in this final month.
Race for Stolen Base Lead
After Billy Hamilton set the all-time single season stolen base record for the minor leagues back in 2012, stealing 155 bases that year, many people began to proclaim Hamilton as the next Rickey Henderson. Those are some lofty expectations that Hamilton hasn’t quite been able to live up to, with Hamilton sitting on 50 stolen bases (the youngest Reds player to ever reach 50 stolen bases in a season) for the season and Rickey Henderson having stolen 100 bags in his first full year.
Hamilton currently sits eight stolen bases back of the leader, Dee Gordon, so he definitely has some work to do if he wants to finish out the year on top. But despite not running away in the stolen bases category like many people initially believed he would, Hamilton has done a phenomenal job of making adjustments this year. After a horrid start to the season, Hamilton has really turned things around, and if he can continue to get on base, he has the potential to rack up a ton of stolen bases in a short period of time.
How Jose Abreu Finishes the Year
Currently sitting on 33 home runs (he has a good shot at winning the home run crown, tied with Chris Carter and Giancarlo Stanton, and one back of only Nelson Cruz), 96 RBI’s and a .312 batting average, Abreu has done nothing but produce all season long, leading many to believe that he has the American League Rookie of the Year award completely locked up.
At one point in time, there was a good chance that Abreu would break the all-time home run record for a rookie, set by Mark McGwire back in 1987, when he blasted 49 home runs. But Abreu will inevitably come up just short of that mark, due in part to a brief stint on the disabled list earlier in the year.
Even so, Abeu will likely wind up with around 40 home runs for the season, and will be a major asset for the White Sox for years to come.
American League West Division
It can’t much tighter than it currently is in the American League West, as the Angels lead the Athletics by a mere game in the standings. With just a few more weeks of games, this is undoubtedly the division to watch most closely throughout the rest of the season. However, the wild card spots are looking to be just as intriguing, in both leagues.
On the American League side of things, whichever team doesn’t win the AL west between the Angels and A’s will end up taking the first wild card spot, but the Mariners, Tigers and even the Yankees are going to be fighting hard for that second wild card spot. In the National League, the Cardinals hold a slight lead for the first wild card, but the second one is anyone’s for the taking between the Giants, Braves, Pirates and Marlins, if they can keep pace through the month of September. It should be interesting to see which teams get the job done.
Derek Jeter’s Final Month of His Career
After having a disastrous 2013 season, in which he was injured and posted measly stats, Derek Jeter announced at the beginning of the year that 2014 would be his last. Therefore, all eyes are on Jeter to see how he performs in the final month of his farewell season. So far, Jeter isn’t doing terrible, but he’s not doing all that great either, batting just .267 with 3 home runs and 36 RBI’s.
But although Jeter isn’t producing all that much, he will still go down as one of baseball’s all-time greats, with over 3,400 career hits.
The one thing on everyone’s mind, however, is whether or not the Yankees can make the playoffs to give Jeter the chance at a sixth career World Series title.
Sitting 2.5 games back of the second wild card, there’s still a shot that the Yankees make it in, but it’s going to take a good amount of terrific play for them to reach the postseason.
Heading into the 2014 Major League Baseball season, there weren’t very many people around the baseball world who didn’t have the Tigers winning the American League Central division. Citing the fact that the Tigers have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball, in addition to a really good lineup that includes, arguably, the best hitter in all of baseball, Miguel Cabrera, a lot of pre season predictions had the Tigers completely running away with the division. But with around five weeks of games remaining in the season, the Tigers finishing in first place isn’t a lock, as it was once viewed.
A game and a half back of the division leading Royals, the Tigers have some work to do to retake their lead in the Central.
Back on July 31st, the Tigers made a move that seemed certain to help them pull away from the Royals. In a three team trade with the Rays and Mariners, the Tigers sent Austin Jackson to Seattle, who in return sent Nick Franklin to the Rays, with the Tigers sending Drew Smyly and a prospect to the Rays in exchange for David Price.
Though Price hadn’t been overly dominant before the trade went down, a team with David Price is much better off than a team without David Price. And that has proven to be true in his few starts since the trade.
In Price’s most recent outing at his long time home, Tropicana Field, Price had one of his best games of the season. Going eight innings, giving up just a single hit, Price was fantastic on Thursday afternoon. However, Alex Cobb, who was on the mound for the opposing team, was just as good. In the end, despite the amazing pitching performance by Price, he was handed the loss, as the Tigers failed to provide any run support whatsoever.
If the Tigers want to win the division and not be faced with a one-game playoff that comes with a Wild Card spot — a spot that isn’t guaranteed by any means, as the Mariners currently sit just a half game back of the second Wild Card — they’re, obviously, going to have to start playing better as a team than they have been recently.
The day the David Price trade occurred, the Tigers were in a great spot. Sitting in first place, four games ahead of the Royals, the acquisition of Price looked to only improve their team, which was already seemingly on the way to another division title.
But while Price has done his job for the most part, as has the always terrific Max Scherzer, the remainder of the pitching staff, along with the lineup, has been hit and miss from one night to the next, with their entire bullpen being subpar at best.
Justin Verlander hasn’t been the same caliber pitcher he once was in quite some time; Joe Nathan, who they acquired to strengthen their bullpen, hasn’t been that great; and although Miguel Cabrera is having a good year, he’s currently on pace to finish out the season around 20 home runs and 30 RBI’s shy of the unbelievable numbers of 44 home runs and 137 RBI’s he posted in 2013.
Those three players are going to have to catch fire for the Tigers to take off in any major way.
With the entire Tigers team underperforming for the most part at the moment, and with the Mariners right behind them, threatening to overtake their playoff chances, the Tigers are experiencing quite a bit of struggles. Though they’ll likely find some sort of groove at some point in September, the Tigers are doing extremely poor in comparison to where they should be with the talent they have. If, somehow, the Tigers miss the postseason altogether, it would be nothing short of a disastrous season on their part.
For the first time since May of 2011, the Angels have taken over sole possession of first place in the American League West division. Heading into Monday night tied with the Athletics, who had the night off, the Angels went into Boston looking to pick up an all important win that would give them the lead in the division. Beating the Red Sox 4-2, the Angels now stand a half game ahead of the Athletics in the division, with the best overall record in all of Major League Baseball.
Having been chasing down the Athletics for the first place spot since the weeks approaching the All-Star break, the Angels were finally able to move within striking distance throughout the past month or so, winning 16 of their 29 games since the break. With 2009 being the last time the Angels made the playoffs, they are well on their way to ending the drought, now that they appear to have found their groove.
But it’s certainly taken awhile to get to this point.
After signing Albert Pujols back in 2012, who had recorded 30 or more home runs every season since his debut in 2001, the Angels were expected to do big things in the west. But some bad breaks and poor play by some of their players kept them from fulfilling their potential, finishing third in the division, even with Mike Trout taking home the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Then in 2013, after acquiring yet another star player in Josh Hamilton, the Angels were predicted by many to do dominate the division, but once again, injuries (Pujols missed a major portion of the year) and poor play caused them to tumble, finishing out the season 18 games back of first.
Not exactly what you picture as a bright future.
However, while things had gone terribly wrong in 2012 and 2013, the Angels have put things together so far in 2014. With just over a month remaining in the season, the Angels look to be firing on all cylinders. Mike Trout, who has become one of the game’s youngest superstars, has been having an MVP caliber season, and is on the verge of another 30 home run year. And although Josh Hamilton has been struggling once again this year, Pujols has had a major bounce back season from 2013, approaching 30 home runs for what would be the thirteenth time in his career.
But much of the Angels’ success this season has also come thanks to the overlooked players on their roster, none more so than their leadoff hitter, Kole Calhoun. Having turned into quite the productive player for the Angels, Calhoun has done nothing but get on base time and time again this season, allowing the next hitters of Trout, Pujols and Hamilton to drive him in; being a big reason for their overall success as a team.
On the pitching side of things, Garrett Richards has been fantastic, putting up great numbers, which has been extremely important, with Angels’ standout pitchers C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver both having down years. Without Calhoun and Richards playing the way they have, the Angels could be in a much different position than they currently are.
Though you never truly know what to expect from one season to the next, I’ll be the first to admit that I never saw this type of season coming from the Angels. When I made my final standings predictions back in March, I actually had the Angels finishing fourth, just ahead of the Astros, with the Rangers winning the division. With the Angels in first and the Rangers in dead last, with the worst record in all of baseball, it just goes to show that a few breaks here and there can truly make or break an entire season for any given team.
Start after start after start this season, Felix Hernandez has taken the ball for the Seattle Mariners and given them an unbelievable pitching performance, which has allowed the Mariners to once again become relevant in the American League West division.
While they’re not dominating the division like some predicted they would — they currently sit third, behind the Athletics and Angels –, especially with the offseason acquisition of Robinson Cano, along with a few other key players, the Mariners are still finding a way to keep in the playoff mix, thanks in large to a big season by their ace Hernandez.
With a season win-loss record now of 13-3 to go along with a 1.95 ERA, the five time All-Star and former perfect game pitcher is having a career best season in a number of categories. But one of the most impressive numbers Hernandez has put together this season is his streak of consecutive quality starts, which now stands at 16 straight outings of 7 or more innings pitched in which he allowed 2 or fewer earned runs.
That’s simply amazing.
The Mariners currently sit within one game of the second American League wild card spot, which is also quite remarkable, seeing that they were 12.5 games back of the wild card at this point last season. Robinson Cano’s hitting ability has no doubt helped the Mariners reach this point, with him coming up big in the Mariner’s seven-run sixth inning on Monday night, but there’s no telling where they would be without Felix Hernandez.
With talks that Dodgers’ lefty Clayton Kershaw could wind up taking home the National League Most Valuable Player award with the stats he’s posting, many are asking whether or not Felix Hernandez could do the same for the American League.
Though he’ll likely finish in the top few vote getters, the honor will likely inevitably go to Mike Trout, who has finished runner up in the previous two seasons. Even so, Hernandez, barring any major setbacks, is well out in front to take home his second career Cy Young award.
But no matter which awards Hernandez wins, for the Mariners and their fans, the thing that matters most is a playoff run, which Seattle hasn’t seen since 2001.
They have the talent to do it, and with their only chance coming via a wild card spot (they’re too far down to win the division), the Mariners will have to make it past a one game, lose and go home wild card playoff game to keep the run alive for long. But with Felix Hernandez on their team, the Mariners have to like their chances, should they grasp that second wild card spot.
There’s, arguably, no other pitcher in the game today you would want in that situation.
We’re quickly approaching the opening-series of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, down in Australia on March 22nd, and so begins the predictions of where each team will finish in the coming year. Most of the time there’s a team or two that comes along and completely throws off your predictions, but that’s what makes it fun.
I’m going to be doing a separate couple of blog posts on my predictions for how I feel each team will fare this season sometime in the next week or two, but for now, I want to hear what you all think. Cast your vote below for which team you feel is most likely to win each division in 2014:
Voting ends on March 22nd.
I was originally planning on waiting to type up my postseason predictions until after the Wild Card games had been played, as with them being a mere one game a wrong pick could easily throw off the remainder of the predictions. But it was brought to my attention that doing so wouldn’t make them true playoff predictions, which I suppose is true. I wouldn’t want to do that.
The following are my picks for which teams are going to do well in the postseason and subsequently go onto win the World Series. I doubt you’ll agree with a lot of them, however, it’s just the way I see it. You never know what might happen.
WILD CARD GAMES
American League: Rays Vs. Indians
I have the Indians beating out the Rays in Wednesday night’s game. While the Rays have a great team, their pitching staff hasn’t been the best this year, although they do have Alex Cobb on the mound. The Indians’ are just as good as the Rays, however, and combining that with the momentum of winning so many games in a row to finish out the year will be more than enough for the Indians to overtake the Rays.
National League: Pirates Vs. Reds
Both the Reds and Pirates have great teams, however, I feel the Pirates are starting a better pitcher than the Reds, in Francisco Liriano, who’s been great all year. I also see the Pirates as having a more consistent group of players that will come together to get the job done. Therefore, while the Reds have had a great year, I don’t see them making it past this game.
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
Indians Vs. Red Sox
Winner: Red Sox
Even though I have the Indians beating out the Rays to move on to the ALDS, I don’t think their momentum alone will be enough to carry them past the incredible Red Sox team. The Red Sox’ pitching staff, and especially their lineup, is too much for the Indians to compete with, in my opinion.
Athletics Vs. Tigers
For the second straight season, the Athletics had a fantastic year, but I don’t think it will continue past the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers have a great pitching staff, as well as numerous threats up and down their lineup that I think will be enough to beat the A’s. No matter what happens, this is sure to be a great series.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
Cardinals Vs. Pirates
The Pirates have been a great story all season long, however, I don’t see them as having a good enough overall team to overthrow the Cardinals. The Cards have a great pitching staff, consisting of a lot of young stars, and though it’ll be close, I have the Cardinals moving on to the Championship Series.
Braves Vs. Dodgers
With a pitching staff that includes Clayton Kershaw, and a lineup that includes Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, you’d think the Dodgers would be able to run over any team that gets in their way. But I don’t see them getting past the Braves, who have a great team that has consistently fought back all season long. That unwillingness to give up will be what helps them move past the Dodgers, in my mind.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Tigers Vs. Red Sox
Winner: Red Sox
Likely to be the best series of the entire postseason, the Red Sox and Tigers are very evenly matched. But having to pick one, I’m going with the Red Sox, as they have amazed everyone all year long and will continue to do amazing things, in my mind. They should have just enough to move on.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Cardinals Vs. Braves
The Cardinals and Braves both have a nice mix of good pitching and a great lineup, but although it might take the entire seven game series to decide, I feel the Cardinals are the better team and will ultimately come out victorious. They should be able to move onto the World Series in the end.
Red Sox Vs. Cardinals
I feel this is going to be one of the best World Series in years, should the Cardinals and Red Sox make it there as I’m predicting. Both are incredibly great teams that come up big when their backs are against the wall. I see them both having great World Series performances, with the Cardinals just edging out the Red Sox for the 2013 World Series Championship.
Leave a comment with who you have winning the World Series. I’d love to hear your picks.
The Athletics currently hold a rather large lead in the Wild Card standings for the American League, so if any non-division-leading teams in the AL want to make the post season, it will likely have to be through the second Wild Card.
The Yankees, Orioles, Indians, and even the Royals, are the teams that currently still stand a chance of taking over the second Wild Card spot, currently held by the Rays. While it’s admittedly not a good chance, especially for the Royals, it’s a chance, nonetheless.
In my mind, the Yankees are the best team of the four currently chasing down the Rays. While they don’t have that great of a pitching staff, nor a young lineup, they have a lineup of veterans — Jeter, Soriano, Rodriguez, and others — that seem to all be getting hot at just the right time.
Though they’re currently partaking in a series against the Red Sox, which are arguably must-win games, the majority of the Yankees remaining schedule isn’t all that bad. Which is why I think that even if they miss the postseason, it won’t be by as much as people originally thought it would be at the beginning of the season.
As far as the Orioles, Indians and Royals go, they all sit just behind the Yankees, and face an uphill climb for sure. Though I’d love to see the Indians or Royals finally give their fans something to be excited about, after subpar seasons over the past several years, I don’t see it happening. The Orioles, along with the Yankees, are the only teams with a viable chance, in my opinion.
No matter the outcome for the Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Royals, who are currently trying to make a final push for the post season, it will certainly be fun to watch them all in the coming weeks. They all still technically stand a shot of making the post season, and will undoubtedly be playing their hearts out for the remainder of the year.
Only time will tell if their efforts will be all for naught.
I wanted to post a blog entry, as it’s come to my attention that I haven’t done so in 6 days. (Sorry about that.) I’m not going to focus on any one topic, or any particular team, but just a few of the latest things that have happened in MLB since the last time I blogged:
JASON VARITEK RETIRES
Varitek, who officially announced his retirement in a press conference yesterday, spent his entire 15 season career with Boston. Varitek ends his career just seven home runs shy of 200. While he wasn’t able to hit the 200 home run mark, he was able to crack the 1,000 hit mark, as he recorded 1,307 in his career.
Varitek was an icon in Boston, and was able to accomplish a lot in his career. Here’s just a few of the impressive attributes Varitek has:
Only player to play in Little League World Series, College World Series, MLB World Series, Olympics, and World Baseball Classic.
Played in more post season games than any other player in Red Sox history.
Only player in MLB history to catch four no-hitters.
Truly remarkable stuff.
INJURIES, INJURIES, AND MORE INJURIES
A.J. Burnett fractured his orbital bone on a fould tip while bunting during batting practice yesterday. Burnett, who underwent surgery earlier today to repair the damage, is expected to be out for 8-12 weeks.
This is a huge blow to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Burnett was due to make the start on opening day. Now, with the injury, the Pirates will be forced to rethink their options. Although they have a few other decent pitchers in the rotation, you know they have to be disappointed, as they just acquired Burnett from the Yankees in return for a couple of minor leaguers. It doesn’t help the Pirates if Burnett’s on the bench.
After being hit by a fastball the fear by the Tampa Bay Rays was that Evan Longoria’s hand would take time to heal. Considering the fact that he was the major reason they made the play offs in the first place last year, that obviously wouldn’t be good news.
Luckily, after an x-ray, there are no broken bones, and Longoria’s hand swelling should decrease by Monday, which is when the Rays hope to have him ready to go for Spring Training.
It wasn’t looking very likely for Grady Sizemore that he’d make the Opening Day roster due to a back sprain, but after surgery was performed today, it is certain. Sizemore is expected to miss 8-12 weeks.
It’s a real shame for both the Cleveland Indians and Sizemore. The poor guy can’t seem to catch a break. Plagued by injuries over the past couple of years, Sizemore has gone from “future hall of famer”, to present day flop. Hoperfully, once his surgery scars have healed, Grady can get back to playing the way he used to, but unfortunately, as Kevin Millar put it, “back injuries are hard to come back from.”
MLB ADDS EXTRA WILD CARD
When I first heard that an extra wild card was going to be added to each League this season I wasn’t a big fan of the idea. Not because I’m not a fan of change–change is a good thing, sometimes–but for the fact that I really didn’t understand it all. To tell you the truth, I still don’t understand it completely, but as I begin to slowly understand what’s going to happen this season, I’m starting to become a fan of the idea.
Since I’m not 100 percent sure of how things are going to work, and how the play off schedule is going to work, the best thing I can do is tell you to go take a look at the EXCELLENT article detailing everything you’d ever want to know about the extra wild cards: CLICK HERE
SPRING TRAINING GAMES BEGIN
Spring Training games have already begun, however the first MLB Network broadcasted game isnt’ until Saturday at 1:05. The game, which features the New York Yankees taking on the Philadelphia Phillies, is sure to be exciting. Not only is it the first time you’re getting to see Jim Thome play first base, but you’ll also get to see how A-rod does. Whether Rodriguez has a come back year, or a repeat year, has a major impact on how the Yankees do this year. I for one, think that Rodriguez is going to do well this year, but it’s one of things you can’t really predict.
ALL PLAYER AUDIO MLB SPRING TRAINING GAME
If you don’t find this cool, you might want to check yourself for a pulse. Coming up on Wednesday March 7th, at three o’clock eastern standard time, MLB Network is going to broadcast an all player audio game, seeing the Cleveland Indians take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, no announcers doing play by play. Instead, every player and upmire will be mike’d up, and you’ll have to use their audio to guide yourself through the game. I think it’s an awesome idea. Very cool stuff.
This time of year is when blogging gets exciting. During the off season there were a bunch of big trades and signings to talk about, but now with Spring Training kicking off, the topics to blog about are endless. That’s good news for you the reader. The more I have to blog about, the more often I’ll post a new entry, and thus the more you have to read.
I’m going to do my best to keep up with what’s going on around MLB. I really don’t have anything planned, except for one blog entry that I’m working on at the moment. Friday or Saturday of next week I’m going to post my 2012 MLB predictions blog entry. It’ll include how I think each team will place in their divisions, all the way down to who I feel will win the World Series. So be sure to check back for that.
Here’s what I’d suggest to you. If you’re not already, go ahead and enter you email address, and click the follow button, on the right side of the screen. Doing so ensures that you’ll never miss a word of what I have to say about what I’m thinking, as you’ll recieve an email with a link every time a new entry is posted. It’ll make it a lot easier then having to check back in every few days.