If the season ended today: Photo finish in the AL West
It's time for our weekly installment of 'If the season ended today.' In focus: What's shaping up to be one heck of a Rangers-A's battle.
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|
- ALDS 1: Tigers vs. wild-card winner
- ALDS 2: Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics
- Wild-card game: Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
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 Baltimore Orioles , three games up on the Cleveland Indians and 4½ games ahead of the Kansas City Royals . Remember the New York 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|
- NLDS 1: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. wild-card winner
- NLDS 2: Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Wild-card game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds
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 Arizona 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.
- AL batting champ: Miguel Cabrera (.359) -- Mike Trout is in second place with a mark of .333, so this one's essentially decided.
- NL batting champ: Chris Johnson (.339) -- Johnson is in line to become the weirdest NL batting title winner since Freddy Sanchez in 2006! The injured Yadier Molina (.330) is currently in second place.
- AL ERA champ: Felix Hernandez (2.39) -- This one's very much in play, as Hiroki Kuroda checks in at 2.45, and Anibal Sanchez isn't far behind at 2.58.
- NL ERA champ: Clayton Kershaw (1.91) -- Matt Harvey (2.09) may yet be heard from, but keep in the mind that the New York Mets have already decided that he has just a handful of starts left.
- AL position player WAR champ: Mike Trout (7.4) now has the lead over Cabrera (6.6). Chalk that up to Trout's superiority in the field and on the bases.
- NL position player WAR champ: Andrew McCutchen (5.8) just edges out David Wright (5.7) and Carlos Gomez (5.5).
- AL pitcher WAR champ: Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer find themselves tied at 4.8. Sounds about right.
- NL pitcher WAR champ: Harvey (5.6) tops Adam Wainwright (5.2).
- 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 San Francisco Giants , who find themselves percentage points behind the Colorado 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.