Saturday, September 25, 2010

MLB 2010: The Final Week and a Glimpse Ahead

In the American League, all that’s left to be decided is first and second place in the American League East between the Yankees and the Rays. The team with the best record will win the division; the other team will be the Wild Card. The other issue is will the Twins or the winner of the east have the best record and host either the Yankees or the Rays. Then either the Yankees or the Rays will host Texas. The team with the best record still standing hosts the American League Championship series. This has no impact on the first round since a division leader cannot host a team in its division.

The National League still has a lot of possibilities. Philadelphia will win the NL East. Their magic number is 2. The Cincinnati Reds will take the NL Central. Their magic number is 3. In the west, San Francisco is only ½ game ahead of San Diego and Colorado has a drop dead number of five. Any combination of their losses or wins by the first place team eliminates them.

In the National League Wild Card chase, San Diego is ½ game ahead of Atlanta. Colorado is four games out with a drop dead number of six. As such, the open NL races are between San Francisco and San Diego for the NL West. The Wild Card race is between either San Diego or San Francisco depending on which team wins the division and the Atlanta Braves.

The American League race shows Tampa Bay has the easier schedule than New York. They host Seattle this weekend then entertain the Orioles. They travel to Kansas City to finish the season. The Yankees finish their home schedule against Boston Sunday, then travel to Toronto then Boston.

Meanwhile, Twins are playing in Detroit and travel to Kansas City before hosting the Toronto Blue Jays to finish the year.

Given these schedule variables, the Tampa Bay Rays should both win the AL East and secure the best record. They’ll host Texas while Minnesota will host the Yankees to begin post season.

Here are the schedules for the top contenders in the National League. The Braves play in Washington, DC this weekend then host the Florida Marlins. They finish the year hosting the Phillies who should have clinched the East by then. San Francisco plays in Denver, Colorado this weekend then hosts the last place Diamondbacks. San Diego hosts Cincinnati then the Cubs. The season finishes with San Francisco hosting San Diego. The NL West and Wild Card could be decided by that series with Atlanta waiting in the wings for the Wild Card. The schedule would appear to give the Giants a slight edge going into the final weekend and have an advantage over San Diego. As such, the Giants have the best chance of winning their division while San Diego and Atlanta contend for the Wild Card.

Determining who will play where in the National League remains wide open other than the Phillies will finish with the league’s best record. They would not host the Braves, but could face any other teams in play, Cincinnati who will win the Central, or either San Francisco or San Diego from the West. The final outcome might not be known until late Sunday afternoon since San Diego and San Francisco face of in the Pacific Time Zone.

Picking winners to go to the World Series is difficult, but the best hunch right now well could be the Twins versus the Phillies who will host the first two games based on the All-Star game outcome.

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