Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Home Stretch- AL Central

This race was a lot more interesting when this month started. The White Sox, Twins, and Tigers had been neck and neck since the first day of the season. The Tigers, however, have firmly removed themselves from the race by going 6-9 since the beginning of August. Now 10 back, PECOTA gives the Tigers a half of a percent chance to make the playoffs this year. Sorry, Detroit fans. This isn’t your year.

This division is now up for grabs between the White Sox and Twins. Minnesota currently holds a three game lead, but this one’s going to come down to the wire. Unlike the AL East, there’s no consolation prize. Essentially, both teams know that they will win the division or start booking October tee times.

PECOTA gives the Twins a 75% chance to take the division. With what may be the best one-two punch in baseball of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and a fantastic staff led by Francisco Liriano and two of the most underrated pitchers in the league in Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey, the Twins will be a force to be reckoned with.

Don’t count the White Sox out, though. With a very solid top-to-bottom staff and one of the more balanced lineups in the league, PECOTA gives the remaining 24% postseason shot in this division to the Sox. Though they lack the true starpower of the Twins (they certainly don’t have a hitter as good as Mauer, or a pitcher as good as Liriano), there is hardly a weak link anywhere on this team. With a strong bullpen (though Bobby Jenks is their closer, I’d argue Matt Thornton and JJ Putz have both pitched better), this team’s balance could certainly bring them a division title.

I’m going to take the Twins. The heart of that lineup will take over and give them a chance to play deep into October. These teams will play six pivotal games, with a three game set at Target Field in Minnesota beginning today. They will play three more games on the South Side from the 14th to the 16th of September, and the results of that series could certainly determine the outcome of this division.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the AL West and take a look at the Texas Rangers, the only runaway division leader in the league this year. 

Also, a quick moment of silence for Bobby Thomson, who singlehandedly created what is almost certainly the single most electric moment in the history of the Giants franchise. RIP to a great man. He was 86.

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