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Handicapping the 2011 MLB Pennant Races

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AL East:

Alive: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees

Out: Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles

As usual in baseball’s most boring division it’s a two team race between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. As of this writing Boston has a 1.5 game lead on the Yankees, but in reality, whichever team doesn’t win the division has the wild card locked up, but for the sake of completeness, here is a look at what each of the two have left:

Boston Red Sox (71-43):

48 games left: (22 Home, 26 Away) – Magic Number 45 (Playoffs 36)

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .510

New York Yankees (69-44) – 1.5 Games Back

48 games left: (22 Home, 27 Away) – Magic Number 47 (Playoffs 38)

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .500

Marlo Analysis: Who really cares? Both teams are filled with talent; both will be in the playoffs. I guess if I had to pick one, I’d go with the Red Sox. I like their rotation and lineup a bit more, but at the end of the year neither may really go for the division title, instead choosing to set up their rotation for the playoffs. Pick: Red Sox

 

AL Central:

Alive: Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox

Out: Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals

Undoubtedly baseball’s most up in the air division. The Indians rocketed out to a hot start, but untimely injuries and an offensive slump have brought them back to the pack. The Tigers have a solid lineup, but their pitching is a huge question mark. The White Sox have some pitching and some hitting, but do they have enough of both to make a run?

Detroit Tigers: (61-53)

48 games left: (23 Home, 25 Away) – Magic Number 43

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .470

Cleveland Indians: (56-56) – 4 Games Back

50 games left: (28 Home, 22 Away) – Magic Number 46

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .480

Chicago White Sox: (56-58) – 5 Games Back

48 games left: (25 Home, 23 Away) – Magic Number 48

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .470

Marlo Analysis: This division is wide open. The Tigers have a 4 game lead but 12 games remaining against the Indians and 6 against the White Sox. Meanwhile the Indians have 10 against the White Sox. Looking at each of the teams, the Indians look the most complete as of right now. The Tigers 2011 motto is: “Verlander and pray for rain,”  while the White Sox have nagging issues nearly everywhere. The Indians have a solid rotation, a great bullpen, and with the additions of rookies Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, very few easy outs in the lineup. Pick: Indians

 

AL West:

Alive: Texas Rangers, LA Angels

Out: Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners

The West is setting up to be a fun two-team race to watch. The defending AL Champion Rangers currently have a slight 1.5 game lead over the always-competitive, yet over-achieving Angels who boast a 1-2-3 top of the rotation that could send anyone home in October.

Texas Rangers: (65-51)

46 games left: (21 Home, 25 Away) – Magic Number 41

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .520

LA Angels: (63-52) – 1.5 Games Back

47 games left: (24 Home, 23 Away) – Magic Number 43

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .500

Marlo Analysis: These two teams play 10 more times this season including the final 3 games of the season. The Rangers seem to have their swagger back and have bolstered their bullpen for a deep run. The Angels on the other hand have a strong veteran presence and with Weaver, Haren, and Santana up front, they will be tough to take a series against. If it comes down to managers Mike Scoscia is one of the best while Ron Washington is… well, he’s a manager. Pick: I guess I’ll go with the Rangers, but this could come down to game 162.

 

NL East:

Alive: Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves

Out: NY Mets, Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins

This division is all but wrapped up. Still, I couldn’t mark the Braves as out since they have the upper hand in the wild card race. The Phillies, despite going through some early offensive struggles have clearly been the best team in the National League all year long.

Philadelphia Phillies: (75-40)

47 games left: (22 Home, 25 Away) – Magic Number 38 (Playoffs 31)

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .510

Atlanta Braves: (67-49) – 8.5 Games Back

46 games left: (25 Home, 21 Away) – Magic Number (Playoffs 39)

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .510

Marlo Analysis: Not much analysis needed here, the Phillies have this division wrapped up. They will also be a very tough out in the playoffs and should continue to play like on of the best teams in baseball. Pick: Phillies

 

NL Central:

Alive: Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals

Out: Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros

What was a 4 team race has quickly been whittled down to 2. The Pirates schedule has toughened and they remembered that they are the Pirates. The Reds on the other hand just don’t seem to have an identity. One day they look like the best team in the league, the next day, the worst. Unfortunately, the defending NL Central Champs have had far too many of the latter and not enough of the former. That leaves the Brewers and Cardinals to duke it out. They start a 3 game series today and have two more remaining series after that.

Milwaukee Brewers: (65-50)

47 games left: (22 Home, 22 Away) – Magic Number 41

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .500

St. Louis Cardinals: (62-53) – 3 Games Back

47 games left: (28 Home, 19 Away) – Magic Number 44

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .500

Marlo Analysis: These teams are extremely evenly matched right down even with regards to positional comparisons. Tony LaRussa’s squad got worse as he succeeded in running Colby Rasmus out of town. Still, have Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, and a resurgent Lance Berkman. The Brewers have been the best team in the division this year and if it comes down to starting pitching, they have a slight edge, but given a choice, I never pick against Pujols. Pick: Cardinals

 

NL West:

Alive: San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks

Out: Colorado Rockies, LA Dodgers, San Diego Padres

The Diamondbacks are definitely the surprise team of the National League, if not all of baseball. On paper they are a 90-loss team. Thankfully, for them, they don’t play the games on paper. The defending World Series Champion Giants are brought back mostly the same team that won it all a year ago with one major caveat, Buster Posey. When Posey was lost for the season due to a gruesome collision at the plate, most wrote the Giants off, but they went out and got Carlos Beltran to help out this year and beyond.

San Francisco Giants: (63-52)

46 games left: (23 Home, 23 Away) – Magic Number 43

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .460

Arizona Diamondbacks: (63-52) – .5 Games Back

47 games left: (25 Home, 22 Away) – Magic Number 44

Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .480

Marlo Analysis: This is currently the tightest race in baseball although I don’t expect it to end that way. The Diamondbacks may not collapse, but they are definitely playing over their heads. The Giants aren’t a great team by any stretch, but they should be good enough to win this division and with their starting rotation, challenge anyone they meet in the postseason: Pick: Giants

Discussion

4 Responses to “Handicapping the 2011 MLB Pennant Races”

  1. A Freudian slip with the Tribe? Magic number 4? I’ll go with The Indians

    Posted by Pops | August 9, 2011, 11:09 pm
  2. Good catch! I was reformatting on the fly and accidentally deleted the 6. 4 could be good foreshadowing though.

    Posted by Jason Marlo | August 9, 2011, 11:14 pm
  3. Milwaukee Brewers: (63-52)

    47 games left: (22 Home, 22 Away) – Magic Number 41

    Remaining Opponents Win Percentage — .500

    St. Louis Cardinals: (63-52) – 3 Games Back

    3 Games back with Identical records (at the time of publish)???

    Posted by Bobby Digital | August 12, 2011, 9:25 am
  4. Looks like the Pirates chose the Pierogies after all!

    Posted by Bobby Digital | August 15, 2011, 4:48 pm

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