By: Jonathan Goad
Speaking of the St. Louis Cardinals, they, alongside the Oakland Athletics have done complete 180’s on their first halves of the season, and are now in contention for division titles.
Only one division in baseball has ten (or more) games separating the top two teams. That is the AL Central. It’s by far, the worst division in the league.
Cleveland is the only team above .500 and is 13 games ahead of second place Minnesota who is five games below .500.
Cleveland is currently the hottest team in the league, winning nine of their last ten. That division is all but wrapped up.
The AL East features the two best teams in baseball, and eight games even separate them. The Boston Red Sox are sitting at 88-39 with the New York Yankees at 79-46.
Both records are incredible at this point in the season, even for Yankees and Red Sox standards.
The Red Sox are currently 49 games above .500. That’s nuts! The 2001 Seattle Mariners and their 116 regular-season wins, better watch their back!
It’s a shame that these two teams are on a collision course to play each other in the Division Series.
It would be a fun seven-game series to watch, mainly if a trip to the World Series were on the line — like time’s past.
Out West, the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West. Seattle is 4.5 games behind and still have a chance at the division or Wild Card spot — yet may miss out on both.
Oakland has been surging since the All-Star break and 8-2 in their last ten games. Houston has been struggling as of late, only winning three of their last ten.
However, they have reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve back from injury in the nick of time — for their MLB postseason run.
Keep an eye on this division. It could easily be a three-team race to the end.
E: TB 5-2 +2.5
C: CLE 5-1 +.5
W: OAK 4-2 +1
E: NYM 5-3 +1.5
C: STL 5-2 +1.5
W: ARI 4-1 +.5 pic.twitter.com/QWjwGT12We
— Dan Zumpano (@djz1590) August 22, 2018
The NL is where things get very interesting. No division lead is more than 2.5 games. The Chicago Cubs currently hold that over the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
Who would have thought that St. Louis would be in this position two months ago? They are 8-2 in their last ten and playing their best baseball since 2015 — when they won 100 (regular season) games.
Don’t count out the Brew Crew, either, who are now a half-game behind the Cards.
The surprising Atlanta Braves and equally surprising Philadelphia Phillies are only separated by two games in the NL East — with the Braves clinging to a slim lead.
The Washington Nationals rid themselves of two valuable pieces, so they seem to have thrown in the towel on 2018 — and a poor parting gift for Bryce Harper who is (likely) jumping ship this offseason.
The NL West is just about as exciting as the AL West. The Arizona Diamondbacks lead the division by a game and a half. The Colorado Rockies are right on their tale and trending upwards — winning eight of their last ten.
The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t out of it yet either, only 3.5 games out of first, but must salvage their series against the St. Louis Cardinals to get back on track.
Each of these divisions can go in several different directions — by no means is any team safe.
The Wild Card race will be just as exciting to watch and adds more incentive for these Wild Card contenders to win their coveted divisions instead — avoiding that one game playoff.
The AL West race will decide the Wild Card and the entire AL side of the bracket for that matter.
The Yankees sit at the top of the Wild Card and are 3.5 games ahead of Houston and Oakland — both who lead the AL West.
Seattle is currently on the outside looking in on both the Wild Card and division races.
The teams who finish first and second in the AL West will make the playoffs with the third missing out on postseason baseball.
The National League Wild Card is entirely up for grabs. Realistically, eight teams are fighting for the two spots. St. Louis currently holds the first wild-card spot, but they’re only a half-game ahead of Milwaukee in the second spot.
Colorado and Philadelphia are a half-game behind the Brewers. The Dodgers are 2.5 behind, while Washington is six games back.
Pittsburgh is 6.5 games behind, and San Francisco is 7.5 back — both who are trending the wrong direction.
AL East – Boston Red Sox
They’re the best team in baseball. Period
AL Central – Cleveland Indians.
The division is terrible. Easy pick.
AL West – Oakland Athletics
The A’s have a brutal stretch of games at the end of August and beginning of September. After that, they have a reasonably comfortable end to the season — which serves them well.
If Oakland can survive the next two weeks of baseball, they should be able to win the division. Considering how they’ve been playing, they are likely to squeak out the Astros.
AL Wild Card 1 – New York Yankees.
Second best record in baseball. There’s no reason to think they’ll collapse. Plus, Aaron Judge is projected to return for their stretch run.
AL Wild Card 2 – Houston Astros.
The Astros only have four more series with playoff contenders. They should be able to hold off the Mariners for the final playoff spot.
NL East – Philadelphia Phillies
This race is going to come down to the final series of the season. The Phillies and Braves play each other six times in the last week and a half of the season.
Unfortunately, the team who doesn’t win this division may miss the playoffs.
NL Central – Chicago Cubs
This division is as tight as any and could end up with three teams making the playoffs. The Cubs edge out the Cardinals and Brewers to win their third straight division title.
The Cardinals remaining schedule is pretty tough with nine series against playoff contenders. The Brewers face eight series against contending teams. The Cubs only have six remaining series against playoff contenders.
NL West – Arizona Diamondbacks
This situation is similar to the NL Central. The D-Backs have eight tough series left, but the Rockies have nine, and the Dodgers have six. Arizona is good enough to maintain their current lead at least and win the division.
NL Wild Card 1 – St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Carpenter, the salsa, and Mike Shildt are guiding this team into the MLB Postseason.
NL Wild Card 2 – Atlanta Braves
The Braves will win just enough of their remaining games to edge out the Brewers, Rockies, and Dodgers. This race may finish as the closest it’s ever been.
Any of these teams have a real chance of making the postseason. However, the Rockies and Dodgers won’t be able to overcome their tough remaining schedules and will miss out on the playoffs.
Buckle up, baseball fans. The next month is going to be one heck of a ride!