Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun has sore right thumb that has...
Wild Card And World Series Chances
At the end of the day, most teams will have 17 games remaining on their schedule, some will have 18. Three divisions are nearly decided and three others are basically up for grabs. Those three decided are in the NL, with the Nats, Reds, and Giants leading by 6.5 games or more. The largest division lead in the AL is two games, currently held by the Rangers, while the Yankees and White Sox both hold single game leads. Both Wild Card spots in each league are up for grabs. The Braves are seven games up on the Dodgers and Cardinals, who are currently tied in the standings for the new Wild Card number two, and there are four teams within 4.5 games of them. The A’s are three games up on the O’s and the O’s hold a 2.5 game lead over the Angels, a three game lead over the Rays, and a 3.5 game lead over the Tigers.
Other than the three NL division leaders and Atlanta’s Wild Card, little is certain about the playoff picture, and last year’s final-day drama may be nothing compared to what happens this year. It is entirely possible that we may see a one game playoff for the division title in the AL East, where the loser turns around and has a one game playoff, for the second Wild Card spot, which, if won, would leave them in a one game playoff against the other Wild Card team where the winners would play the team with the best record in the AL.
Let’s say that the playoff positions hold the way they are with the Cardinals winning the second wild card in the NL because they have a much better run differential on the season. That leaves us with the Yankees vs. the White Sox and the Rangers vs. the winner of a A’s vs. O’s one game playoff in the AL, and the Reds vs. the Giants and the Nats vs. the winners of a Braves vs. Cardinals series. Who wins the World Series? Who wins the Wild card playoff and how much does that affect them? Well from my view point it doesn’t look good for the Wild Card teams.
Since 1995 when the most recent playoff system was enacted, with the one game playoffs for tiebreakers, there have been six teams that played in a one game playoff. Zero won the world series, and only one made the world series, the Rockies during the 2007 season. And only two others won the DS: the 1995 Mariners and the 1999 Mets (and the Mariners had to come back from a 2-0 hole and have Randy Johnson come out of the bullpen on short rest in extra innings to win the series). The other three teams won a combined 1 game in three series.
Playing in a one game playoff is a huge disadvantage for teams. The players are under tremendous stress and teams throw their ace. To not have your ace in a 5 game series until at least game 3 is a death sentence. Pitching becomes the decider during the playoffs and not having your best pitcher is a hurdle that most teams cannot overcome. That is why I will not be predicting that any wild card team win the World Series this year. Additionally this same reasoning is why I will not be predicting that the Nationals win the world series this year, unless they change their decision on Strasburg.
With this in mind here are my predictions for the World Series: Yankees over White Sox and Rangers over the Wild Card. Reds over the Giants and the Braves over the Nats. Rangers over the Yankees and Reds over the Braves. Lastly, Rangers over the Reds.
Of course this all goes out the window if these teams change positions and the wild cards are different, but hey this wouldn’t be Off The Bench without absurd predictions that we can back out of later. Look at my prediction of the Angels winning the World Series at the All Star break, which is not looking great right now.
Stat of the Day: If the Oakland A’s were in the AL Central, they’d be five games up on the division.