The National League and American League Wild Card races are far from over, as teams continue to look to get the last spot into the postseason. Tomorrow is the beginning of September, and the beginning of the heated pennant races. Since last year, there are now two Wild Cards, giving teams an extra opportunity to try and make the postseason. Here are my predictions for the races for when it's all set and done.
The senior circuit's Wild Card race may seem like a done deal, with the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals fighting it out for the top spot or the NL Central crown. The Cincinnati Reds have a six game lead over the Diamondbacks for the second wild card spot. According to Cool Standings, a site devoted to determining each team's probability of making the postseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a minimal 7.5% chance of winning the Wild Card. The Washington Nationals, currently third in the Wild Card Standings, have a 6.3% chance of winning the Wild Card.
Team to Watch in NL:
The Washington Nationals are my "team to watch for" in the National League, as they are beginning to get hot. Coincidentally or not, they have a very favorable schedule ahead of them, as only 10 of their last 28 games are against teams with a .500 or better record. They are playing better baseball then they have all year, making them a threat to pounce in the National League Wild Card. Don't be surprised if we see some postseason baseball with the Nationals in it. After winning 8 of their last 10 games, the Nats could be playing in the Wild Card game this season.
How I Think It'll Turn Out:
The National League race is one that'll come down to the bitter end, but once that end is found, the results will be pretty much the way they are now. The Reds will secure the second Wild Card, considering that they have a 6 game lead on the Diamondbacks already, and that their schedule isn't too hard anyway. And, besides, they've got a great ball club! Here's my top five finishers for the NL Race:
1. St. Louis Cardinals -- +3 GB
2. Cincinnati Reds -- 0 GB
3. Washington Nationals - 3 GB
4. Arizona Diamondbacks - 4 GB
5. Philadelphia Phillies - 9 GB
The American League race is a very different race compared to the National League's. The junior circuit has five teams that are separated by five games, with the Athletics and Rays currently holding the two playoff spots. The Rays and Athletics currently hold the highest percentages in terms of winning the Wild Card, with 57% chance and a 53% chance respectively. The Indians and Orioles follow with Wild Card chances of 15%. Then the Yankees round out the five teams with a 9% chance in this race. Again, all information is provided by Cool Standings.
Team to Watch in AL:
With the acquisition of Alfonso Soriano, I'm thinking that it's quite possible that the Yankees immediately jump into the contention for the Wild Card in September. The Yanks are playing good baseball right now, scoring, pitching, and playing good defense. Don't be surprised if people start talking about the Yankees getting into the Wild Card round. Start watching them now before September.
How I Think It'll Turn Out:
I think the Oakland Athletics secure the top Wild Card when it's all set and done, based on their pitching staff, and how that they are playing pretty consistent baseball in a sense. I think the Yankees and Orioles will come close, but will finish out of the Wild Card spot, due also to the consistency of the Rays, and the inconsistency of their own teams. But, if either of those teams get hot, they could be the teams in line for the Wild Card spot. Here is how I think it'll finish:
1. Oakland Athletics -- +1 GB
2. Tampa Bay Rays -- 0 GB
3. New York Yankees -- 2 GB
4. Cleveland Indians -- 3 GB
5. Baltimore Orioles -- 5 GB
All in all, this September will be a fun one, in terms on how the Wild Card races will finish up. Get ready, get set, and buckle up for an entire month of excitement. And, teams trying to make one last stride into the race for the World Series.