The Contenders

VICTORYDUDNMOOOOOOOOOOO via readjack.files.wordpress.com

At South Side Sox, we have a tendency to take a pretty myopic view of the baseball landscape. While you will learn things reading this blog that you just can't find anywhere else about our favorite baseball club, we don't often talk about what is going on out west or what is happening in the eastern division. Today I want to take a step back from the tree to see the forest, and get a better feel for the play-off picture.

Our White Sox have themselves in position to take the American League Central Division and try their luck in the first ever 5 team post-season play-off. The Sox .545 win percentage would have them in as the #2 wild card if they were in another division, and Detroit is a mere 2 games back in ours as it is. Let's look at how things stand and see if we can guess how it all shakes out.

With the two wild card teams facing off on October 6th in a one game play-off, the #1 seed has the significant advantage of missing an Ace while the wild cards duke it out for the right to move on. There are 41 games left to go.

Division Leaders W L PCT WCGB WCE # L10 STRK LAST GAME NEXT GAME
NY Yankees 72 50 .590 - - 6-4 L1 8/20 @ CWS, L 6-9 8/21 @ CWS, 8:10 PM
Texas 71 50 .587 - - 6-4 W3 8/20 vs BAL, W 5-1 8/21 vs BAL, 8:05 PM
Chi White Sox 66 55 .545 - - 5-5 W1 8/20 vs NYY, W 9-6 8/21 vs NYY, 8:10 PM
The top two Wild Card teams from each league make the postseason and play each other in a one-game playoff.
Wild Card Teams W L PCT WCGB WCE # L10 STRK LAST GAME NEXT GAME
Tampa Bay 68 54 .557 - - 8-2 W5 8/20 vs KC, W 5-1 8/21 vs KC, 7:10 PM
Baltimore 66 56 .541 - - 6-4 L1 8/20 @ TEX, L 1-5 8/21 @ TEX, 8:05 PM
Oakland 65 56 .537 0.5 41 5-5 L1 8/20 vs MIN, L 2-7 8/21 vs MIN, 10:05 PM
Detroit 64 57 .529 1.5 40 4-6 L2 8/19 vs BAL, L 5-7 8/21 vs TOR, 7:05 PM
LA Angels 62 60 .508 4.0 37 3-7 L4 8/19 vs TB, L 3-8 8/21 @ BOS, 7:10 PM

The tale of the tape:

The Yankees

What makes them a contender?

They have a league best 190 HR, 110 of them in 63 games at home. They get on base at a .337 clip. That adds up to a lot of runs. 603 to be exact thus far, good for a +102 run differential, best in the game. Their team ERA of 3.64 is 5th best in the league, and they don't give games away late, blowing only 9 saves all season. NYY pitchers have racked up 989 strike outs, 2nd best in the AL.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Derek Jeter has already been on base over 200 times, Robinson Cano needs 4 HR to match his career high. Hiroki Kuroda has a 2.96 ERA and 1.12 WHIP despite giving up 17 HR, and Rafael Soriano stepped in as shut down closer without skipping a beat when Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was lost for the season.

Do you think they make the play-offs? Yes. I believe they can hold off Tampa to win the division by feasting on the Blue Jays(10 games left vs Toronto). They are my pick for the #1 seed.

How do we beat them in the post season?

Don't walk anybody, keep the ball in the yard, and hit it by them. Their DER(defensive efficiency rating) is .686, third worst in the AL.

Texas Rangers

What makes them a contender?

They have scored more runs than anybody(612) by getting on base more than anybody(.340 OBP). They have an incredibly deep pitching staff and do everything well. The left side of their infield plays better defense than any other team.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Elvis Andrus has 140 hits and a range factor of 4.33 at short stop. Josh Hamilton has 34 home runs, the 2nd most in baseball.

Do you think they make the play-offs? Yes. They should win the west.

How do we beat them in the post season? The same way they took 5 of 6 from them in July.

White Sox

What makes them a contender?

A +67 run differential, thanks to scoring the 4th most runs in the AL(573) and allowing the 5th fewest(506). They have the second most HR in the league with 161, and the 4th best team DER at .703

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Jake Peavy has 18 quality starts, one fewer than the league leaders. Adam Dunn leads the league with 36 HR, Chris Sale is the condor. You know all this already.

Do you think they make the play-offs?

Yes. I believe they can win the division, but if they happen to fall behind Detroit I think they can still get a wild card spot.

Tampa Rays

What makes them a contender?

They have the best pitching out of all the contenders. A team ERA of 2.93 in that division in incredible, and they have blown just 7 saves all season, about half as many as everyone else. Their 450 runs allowed is the best in the AL. They have struck out 1008 hitters, the most in the league.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

David Price has tallied a quality start in 19 of his 24 games. His 159 strike outs are second on the team to James Shield's 161. Fernando Rodney has 28 saves and a 0.79 ERA.

Do you think they make the play-offs? Probably. Very likely as the wild card, a longshot to take the division.

How do we beat them in the post season?

Out hit them. Their offense is in the lower half of the league, 9th in runs scored, 10th in HR and OBP. Keep them off the board and hope for the big fly.

Baltimore Orioles

What makes them a contender?

I'm not sure. While I enjoy seeing relevant baseball from the O's I still cant figure how they are still in it. They have been out scored by 47 runs this season and are in the back half of every statistical category.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Adam Jones is having a career year at age 27, as it was foretold in the prophesies. He needs 1 HR to match last years 25, which would be 100 for his career. His .293 average boosts his OBP to .340.

Do you think they make the play-offs? No.

How do we beat them in the post season?

I would love to see the White Sox play the O's in the play-offs. If I could pick any opponent on this list it would be Baltimore. I still want revenge for 1983.

Oakland A's

What makes them a contender?

Pitching. As always, they are among the leaders with a 3.07 team ERA, 3rd in the AL thanks to that home park.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Josh Reddick was, but he has come crashing back to earth. Yoenis Cespedis has made an instant impact. He strikes out once every 5 plate appearances but he has 16 HR and 12 SB.

Do you think they make the play-offs? No. Their remaining schedule is full of the other teams on this list.

Detroit Tigers

What makes them a contender?

Their pitching has been pretty good, a 3.83 team ERA and 989 strike outs, tied with NY for 2nd most in the AL. Their team OBP of .337 is also tied for 2nd best in the AL.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Miguel Cabrera has been the best offensive player in the game this season. 32 HR, 51 walks vs a mere 60 strike outs, the guy is a beast. Prince Fielder has actually walked more times(62) than striking out(59). He has 22 HR. Justin Verlander leads the AL with 180 Ks. Max Scherzer is just behind him with 178 of his own.

Do you think they make the play-offs? Maybe. I could see them grabbing the other wild card spot. 10 games left with the Royals on their schedule, hopefully KC plays them as tough as they do the Sox.

How do we beat them in the post season?

Hit the ball right at them. Their .676 DER is the worst in the league. Pitch around the big guys(like a lot of teams seem to be doing) and make the Omar Infante and Quintin Berry types beat you.

Los Angels

What makes them a contender?

They can score runs. They have the 5th most in the AL(568) via 152 HR(4th in AL) and a team OBP of .330(4th). Their team DER of .704 is just a thousandth better than the White Sox, good for 3rd in the league.

Who is having a season we need to be aware of?

Mike Trout will win the Rookie of the Year, and he should probably win the MVP as well. He has 52 extra base hits in 400 at bats, including 24 HR. He has swiped 39 bases, and has a range factor of 2.36 in the outfield. After a slow start by his all-time great standards, Albert Pujols has hit 28 HR. Jared Weaver has 16 quality starts and 15 wins to show for it.

Do you think they make the play-offs? Maybe. I could also see them grabbing the other wild card spot.

How do we beat them in the post season?

We need Pierzynski to strike out, then run to first base as the catcher runs off the field. Also, our starters need to throw 4 complete games in a row and everything should be fine.

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Is there anyone else that could make the playoffs? Maybe if they get 2007 Rockies hot. Boston is 7 games out of the wild card, but 3rd in the AL with 592 runs scored. Seattle is 7.5 games out and they have won 6 in a row. I just don't see it though, I already mentioned 8 teams fighting for 5 spots.

I want to see the Sox win the division(duh). Then I'd like to see a Verlander vs Weaver wild card game. Price vs Verlander or Weaver would be good tv, too. If the O's hang on and make the play-offs, there has to be a White Sox vs Baltimore ALCS. There just has to be. Then we can get a Reds vs White Sox world series. Imagine all the non-stop fun that talking about 1919 would be.

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