Monday, August 16, 2010

The Home Stretch- AL East

I know I’ve been a little Giant-centric for the past few days. For that I apologize. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Anyway, I’m going to try to balance it out a bit. This blog is going to be about the Giants a lot of the time, sure. But I hope to write about your team at least once in a while, whichever team that is.

This is the first in a series I’m going to be running this week, taking a look at each of the divisional playoff races. I’m going to hold off on the Wild Card races (although we’ll talk about them in passing) until a little closer to the end of the season. We’ll go East coast-centric ESPN style, beginning with the AL East today and moving West, and then doing the same for the Senior Circuit.

The American League East has become a bit of a two-horse race. The Red Sox are six back, and although they’ll do their best to overcome that deficit, with the injuries they’ve had it’s going to be quite the uphill battle. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA postseason odds have them at an average win total of 90.8 games, with a 23.2% chance of making the playoffs. Most of that hinges on their overtaking one of the top two teams in the division to win the Wild Card. Though they could certainly do it with a hot September, I’m going to guess they don’t.

So that leaves the Yankees and Rays. The Yankees and their 72-45 record currently lead the Rays by two games. PECOTA sees them winning an average of 98.8 games in projections, taking the division slightly North of 75% of the time. Should they falter and fall behind the Rays, PECOTA gives them a 20.5% chance of being the AL Wild Card. They’re pretty much a lock.

The Rays are winning an average of 94.8 games in PECOTA’s projections. Their most likely playoff avenue is the Wild Card, which they have a 56.5% chance of taking. PECOTA gives them a 21% chance at overtaking the Bronx Bombers to win the division. I’m going to go against PECOTA on this one and take the Rays to overcome the gap. Mostly based on the depth of their pitching… I’m a huge Jeremy Hellickson fan and I think David Price and Evan Longoria lead the Rays to the division title.

The Rays and Yankees will play seven huge games in a 10-day stretch from the 13th to the 23rd of September. First, a 3-game set in Tampa from the 13th to the 15th. I’m guessing the division lead changes at some point during this series. Then, a 4-game series will follow under the lights of New Yankee Stadium from the 20th to the 23rd. I’m gonna say Tampa takes 3 of 4 and holds on to the lead from then on.

Though the losing team in this sweepstakes is likely to take the Wild Card, I’m guessing these clubs will have more than enough motivation to try and go for the win. The Wild Card team will almost certainly face the Texas Rangers. Not that Francisco Liriano is any slouch, but I’m pretty sure they’ll want to avoid opposing Cliff Lee twice in a five-game series if they can help it.

Your fun fact for the day is on the incredible reign of Buck “King Midas” Showalter. The Orioles have won 9 of 13 games since putting Showalter at the helm. If they continue on this pace, they will win a total of 71 games. If the rest of the season goes according to PECOTA predictions, they would still finish in last, 28 games back of the Yankees, and 13 games back from the Blue Jays, who would be the second worst team in the division. Simply put, they hadn’t been very good up to Showalter’s installation.  Winning every last game for the rest of the season would place them at 87 W’s, which PECOTA predicts would be 4th in the division.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the sprint to the finish between the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. Thanks for reading! Also, if you haven't noticed, we now have a Twitter account, so subscribe and I'll let you know when I'm posting. Check the widget on the right side of the page or look for @saberbythebay on Twitter. 

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