With one month left in the Major League baseball season, the race to October is heating up. Teams will battle it out and fight for every last position in postseason play. Those who are not in postseason contention will play the spoiler role, and the teams who have playoff spots locked up will try to keep their consistent play going into October. With intriguing postseason races going on, the month of September will not disappoint us baseball fans. Let’s take a look at how the postseason race will shape up throughout the final month of the season.
Playoff Locks (National League):
The Atlanta Braves have won the NL East. Well, they have not officially won the division but the Braves have a 14 game lead over the second place Washington Nationals. With the best record in the National League and all of Major League Baseball (82-52), the Braves will likely get home-field advantage for the 2013 postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a 10.5 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and are playing too well to choke this lead away (although anything is possible). I see the Dodgers clinching this division in the middle of September, but they are already a lock for October. Even though both teams are currently tied for the NL Central, the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates are locks for the postseason. Both teams have a 78-56 record, and have a 3.5 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds (along with a 9.5 lead over the Diamondbacks, who trail the Reds for the second Wild Card spot). Whichever team does not win the division will get a Wild Card spot.
Playoff Race (National League):
With four out of the five spots in the National League already locked up, that leaves a Wild Card spot left that is up for grabs (kinda). The Cincinnati Reds have a 6 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second Wild Card spot, and a 6.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals. Arizona is a team that is always around the .500 mark, but they never go under .500. So unless they catch fire, the Reds would just have to play .500 ball the rest of the season to hold off the D-Backs. The team that the Reds should be worried about is the Washington Nationals. Washington has 18 games left against the Mets, Marlins, and Phillies, along with three-game sets against the Braves, Cardinals, and D-Backs. If the Nationals catch fire in September, they could knock off the Reds and get that second Wild Card. But, I ultimately see the Reds hanging on to their Wild Card spot, and having a spot in the 2013 postseason.
Playoff Races (American League):
There is not a “Playoff Locks” section for the American League simply because no team in the American League is safe for a postseason spot right now, unlike some teams in the National League. Nine teams in the American League are fighting for five playoff spots. The Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, and Orioles out of the AL East are competing for a spot in the postseason, along with the Tigers, Indians, and Royals out of the AL Central, and the Rangers and Athletics out of the AL West. Boston has a 3.5 game lead over the Rays in the AL East, a 7.5 game lead over the Yankees, and an 8 game lead over the Orioles. The Rays will be the team that has a shot at catching the Red Sox for the AL East title, but I would not count out the Yankees or the Orioles. Over in the AL West, the Rangers currently have a 2 game lead over the Athletics. This division race will be the most entertaining to watch. Both teams will go back-and-forth throughout September on top of the division, but the Rangers and A’s should make the postseason regardless of who wins the division. The Tigers have a 7.5 game lead over the Cleveland Indians and a 10 game lead over the Kansas City Royals for the AL Central. Pending on how serious Miguel Cabrera’s injury is, the Tribe or the Royals could go on a run and catch the Tigers. Where it gets interesting in the American League is the Wild Card race. Four teams (Yankees, Orioles, Indians, and Royals) are within seven games of the Rays and Athletics. If any of those four teams were to get hot in September, the Rays and A’s could be in trouble.
It’s baseball. Anything can happen in September which makes the game so great. This September will be filled with excellent baseball, fantastic plays, and memorable moments that will lead to a great October. The 2013 “hunt for October” will certainly entertain baseball fans everywhere.