A.L Wild Cards: The Playoff Picture Update

Sunday September 30th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The added wild card spot wasn’t a particularly popular move when it was first announced. Now, however, it’s provided some late season drama for teams that probably wouldn’t be in the race without the additional spot. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.

However, everyone can’t jump in on the fun in the American League. Only two teams will get a shot at winning a one game sudden death playoff and moving on to the ALDS.

A.L. Wild Card Standings (as of Sunday morning)

Baltimore: 91-67 –

New York: 91-67 –

Oakland: 90-68 –

L.A. Angels: 87-70 2.5 GB

Tampa Bay: 87-71 3 GB

So, as you can see, the A’s and the Orioles or Yankees would play in a one game do or die if the season ended today. However, nothing is final yet. There are two more teams that stand legitimate chances at taking one of those two spots— the Rays and Angels. Or, the two teams that are expected to make the playoffs.

Let’s breakdown the chances of each team punching their ticket to the postseason:

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is 7-3 over their past ten games. In other words, they seem destined to complete their shocking season by clinching a coveted playoff spot. The A’s, however, trail them by just one game in the loss column for home field advantage, should a match up between the two present itself.

Baltimore will finish a three game series against the Red Sox on Sunday, and travel to Tampa Bay to face the streaking Rays. Depending on how both teams conclude the weekend, it appears as if the Rays must sweep the Orioles to tie them or potentially overtake them in the wild card standings. Then again, the Orioles and Rays could both remain four games back in the loss column and that upcoming series could mean nothing.

Basically, the Orioles are in a good spot. Yes, the A’s are on their tail, but even if they are overtaken by them, they still have the second spot or possibly their division if the Yankees continue to reel. 

Oakland A’s

Brandon Moss crushed a three-run homer to put the finishing touches on Oakland’s 7-3 comeback win against Seattle Saturday afternoon. If anything, Moss’s walk off blast represents the A’s entire season in a nutshell.

However, the A’s, like Baltimore, have a chance to avoid the one game playoff and win their division. They trail the Rangers by just 2.5 games with a crucial three game set on deck next week. Ironically, it will conclude the season.

For the A’s, winning the division is obviously a better route to embark on. But for more than just the obvious reasons. This specific reason being that they don’t have a defined “ace” who would be a lock to take the ball in a one game playoff. Manager Bob Melvin doesn’t have the luxury of giving the ball to a Justin Verlander, Jered, Weaver, or David Price. Simply put, they’re at a disadvantage, kind of. Of course Jarrod Parker can assume that role, but he’s young. To put things into perspective, everyone on their rotation are currently rookies.

Oakland’s final three series of the year will be against Texas. They trail the first place Rangers by just 2.5 games heading into Sunday, so it will be in their hands to take ahold of first place. Though with the Rays and Angels creeping behind them, they just need to keep winning, obviously.

Tampa Bay Rays

As bad as the Rays were for a period in September, they’ve gone 9-1 over their last ten games. And they’re winning in typical Rays’ fashion—pitching, pitching, and more pitching. As a group, they’ve posted a sub-three ERA over their 9-1 stretch.

The big question, however, is whether or not they can sneak into the postseason. After Saturday’s action, they trail the A’s by three games for the second wild card spot. As aforementioned, they will close the year with three against Baltimore. So some ground can be made up during that series as well.

But long story short, Tampa Bay is going to need some help. And by help, I mean the A’s losing to the Rangers next week. The playoffs aren’t entirely out of the question, but as each day passes, they simmer down.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Much like the rest of the pack, the Angels are also streaking, winning seven of their past three games. Plus, Mike Trout is beginning to heat up at just the right time. Basically, everything is clicking, but this might be a case of too soon too late.

Los Angeles will play a double-header against Texas on Sunday to wrap up that series. Then, they will conclude the year in Seattle for three games. Simply put, they need to win out. The A’s could certainly fall off a cliff and end the year by losing three straight to the Rangers, allowing the Angels to pull ahead of them, or vice versa. But that’s why they play the game.

The Angels, who were expected to virtually win the World Series after making two huge splashes in free agency (Pujols and C.J. Wilson), are now are the verge of missing out on the October chaos.

With that being said, they certainly stand a better chance than the Rays to advance, trailing the second spot by 2.5 games with five to go.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score

Posted on September 30, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I enjoy your work and it would appear that you know what you are talking about .However I disagree with what you believe is going to happen .In myviiew i don’t see either the Angels norTampa making it through the Wild Card My choices are Baltimore & Oakland .When this happens I expect Oakland to prevail Baltimore lacks good starting pitching and it will soon catch up with them I might add that I believe they have played over there heads been lucky too .Oakland has a nice team and they have played well if not better than Baltimore against tougher competition.In your piece about the Playoffs you failed to mention the Hated Yankees .I expect them to win theEast along with Detroit in the Central and Texas in the West.In my opinion Texas won’t get a third chance to win a WorldSeries.However Josh Hamilton will come up big in his farewell to Texas but it won’t be enough .The Yankees will be going to the World series as the American league winner.I know that this won’t be a popular choice but it’s going to happen .In regard to the National League I will wait awhile and see what happens in the Wild Card.

    • With the Angels losing the 2nd game of the doubleheader, I don’t see them overtaking the A’s. I can see the Yankees catching fire, but remember, if they don’t win the division, the A’s could knock them out. Remember than four game sweep?

      Thanks for the comment!

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