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If the season ended today: Photo finish in the AL West

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Oakland and Texas appear to be on a collision course in the AL West. (USATSI)
Oakland and Texas appear to be on a collision course in the AL West. (USATSI)

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If the season ended today (Friday, Aug. 9), then that would be terrible because that would mean no more regular-season baseball. Fortunately, that's not the case.

That said, our new weekly series allows us to ponder what the lay of land would be if the season did indeed end today. This being a thought experiment, though, it allows us to do that without actually having the season end today, which, as mentioned, would be terrible.

So if the 2013 season came to a conclusion right now, what would it all look like? Let's dig in ...

AL playoff matchups

There's still lots of sorting out ahead. In the AL West, the A's lead the Rangers by .001 percentage points in the standings. (Worth noting: These two teams still have six head-to-head contests remaining on the schedule.) The wild-card race is similarly tight, as the Rangers are just 1½ games ahead of the Orioles, three games up on the Indians and 4½ games ahead of the Royals. Remember the Yankees? They're seven games out of the second wild-card berth. Also worth mentioning is that the Rays, the top wild card, are just a pair of games ahead of the Rangers. Yes, there is much delicious compression in the AL right now.

NL playoff matchups

The Pirates at this writing are a mere half-game ahead of the Braves for top seed. As the division leads go, the Pirates' four-game edge over the Cardinals is the smallest of the three. The NL East is decided, and the Dodgers, per CoolStandings.com, have an 82.9 percent chance of winning the West. In the wild-card races, only the Diamondbacks have the potential to make things interesting, as they're 4½ games behind the Reds for the second berth. All in all, much less interesting than what's going on in the AL.

Most intriguing playoff matchup

  • NLDS: Braves vs. Dodgers

In this particular NLDS encounter, we would be looking at two of the hottest teams in baseball squaring off against each other in a best-of-5. Let the record show that the Braves and Dodgers are a combined 33-7 since the break.

Most intriguing potential World Series matchup
  • Red Sox vs. Dodgers

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I'm going with this possible encounter involving two classic franchises. The two teams haven't met in the World Series since way back yonder in 1916, when Babe Ruth toiled for the Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Robins. Throw in some East Coast-West Coast hostilities, and you've got a good one.

Best non-playoff teams
  • AL: Orioles
  • NL: Diamondbacks

Pity the O's. They still might make the postseason, of course, but right now they're out of playoff position. That's despite being 12 games over .500 and having a healthy run differential of plus-31. Also worth noting that the Orioles, because they play in the AL East, have played 65 of their 114 games against teams with winning records. Tough schedule, that one.

As for the NL, consider this a "by default" honor for Arizona. They're not a particularly good team, but they're the only NL squad that is out of playoff position despite a winning record.

Stat races
  • Detroit's Scherzer is of course 17-1. The record for most wins in a season while losing only one game? Elroy Face, who went 18-1 out of the bullpen for the 1959 Pirates.
  • Wondering why Miguel Cabrera came up short in his bid to win a second straight Triple Crown? Blame Baltimore's Chris Davis, who, if the season ended today, would best Cabrera by eight homers and a single RBI.
  • The Giants, who find themselves percentage points behind the Rockies in the NL West, would pull off the rare feat of winning the World Series one season and then slipping to last place in the next.
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