Some great playoff races shaping up right now.
5 of the 6 divisions seem settled; I can't see any chance the Red Sox, Tigers, A's, Braves, and Dodgers don't win their respective divisions. The NL Central, however, is still very much up for grabs with the Cardinals holding a narrow 1 game lead over Pittsburgh and 2.5 game lead over Cincinnati. All three teams are very likely going to the playoffs (Fangraphs' playoff odds give them all at least a 98% chance), but under the new playoff format, we all know how significant it is to avoid the Wild Card game.
The Nats have been surging of late (9 wins in their last 10, including a twin bill sweep of the Braves yesterday), but remain 4.5 behind Cincy for the 2nd wild card spot. Their playoff odds remain incredibly low (2.7% per Fangraphs), but keep an eye on them and the Reds for a little bit longer. Making up a 4.5 game lead with just 11 to play is incredibly difficult, but crazier (or just as crazy?) things have happened: in 2011, with 11 left to play, the Cardinals (eventual World Series Champions) were -- ready? -- 4.5 games behind the wild card-leading Braves.
Still, that wild card race is only mildly interesting at best since the Nats face very poor odds. The real wild card race is in the AL where Texas and Tampa Bay are trading blows for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game while the Indians are nipping at their heals (0.5 games back) and teams like the Orioles (2.0 GB), Yankees (3.5 GB), and Royals (3.5 GB) remain a little further behind but still not quite out of it. Texas in particular has been a disaster, starting September 3-12 highlighted by a 7-game losing streak that they just ended last night. Texas entered September up a couple games in their division. Now, the division is all but lost, and their playoff odds are essentially a coin flip.
Should be a fun final two weeks.
This is kind of an apropos of nothing, but check out how stacked the rookie class of the NL is: Yasiel Puig (392 PA, .331/.401/.539), Jose Fernandez (172.2 IP, 2.19 ERA, just turned 21 in July), Hyun-Jun Ryu (technically shouldn't be a rookie but 3.03 ERA over 181 IP), Julio Teheran (174.2 IP, 3.14 ERA), Shelby Miller (161.1 IP, 3.01 ERA), Gerrit Cole (105.1 IP, 3.33 ERA), Tony Cingrani (104.2 IP, 2.92 ERA). That doesn't even account for other high profile prospects who debuted like Zack Wheeler (3.42 ERA), Christian Yelich (112 wRC+), Anthony Rendon (97 wRC+), Michael Wacha (2.81 ERA), Tyler Skaggs (3.96 xFIP), etc. I could go on and mention other NL rookies like Juan Lagares, A.J. Pollock, and Nolan Arenado who have fell short offensively but have produced exceptional defense to be worth 2-3 wins. What a class.
Puig has been awesome but I think Fernandez should win the NL RoY award. Check out his numbers since June 1st: 120.1 IP, 37 walks, 135 strikeouts, 1.50 ERA. Opponents hit .161/.234/.224 against him in that time frame. Wow. And again, this is a kid who didn't turn 21 until the last day of July. Among starting pitcher seasons age-20 or under since 1962, Fernandez's 2013 ranks 6th in fWAR*, 2nd in ERA, and 2nd in strikeout percentage.
* - sorry, have to get some unabashed Doc Gooden love in here: his 1985 and 1984 rank #1 and #2 on this list, and each season essentially doubled the value of Fernandez's 2013. Insane.
Fiesty already talked about it, but man, what a season for Mike Trout, hitting the 10+ win threshold for the second year in a row, and actually improving at the plate to a 180 wRC+, up from the 166 mark of last year. Yet he'll get robbed of the MVP (again), despite having the credentials to win in a landslide (again).
Edited by nmigliore, 18 September 2013 - 09:05 AM.