Around The Bases: 9/17 - 9/23
It's been an interesting week around both leagues. Playoff races are heating up with more teams vying for the Wild Cards than we may have thought a month ago. Here are some of the stories gaining traction in the baseball world.
AL MVP Race - Justin Verlander vs Curtis Granderson
Seems like these are the two horses in the race, so to speak, with Jose Bautista and myriad Red Sox in the mix (Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury). See our discussion of the two major candidates here. You can still vote on our main page as to who you think should win the award.
Pittsburgh Historic Fall
In mid July, we were talking about the Buccos being in 1st place and on the verge of snapping their abysmally bad 18 consecutive losing seasons (see article here). They looked like that had the talent in the field and on the mound to thrive down the stretch. Shortly after we posted about their fine season, they peaked at 7 games over .500 at 51-44. They were in first place...then...they reverted back to the Pirates of old. Since that day, July 19, they've gone 18-43 for a .295 winning percentage and they've plummetted down to 4th place. They've also guaranteed their 19th consecutive losing season.
Phillies Minor Collapse
The Phillies have dropped six games in a row on the heels of clinching their 5th consecutive NL East Division title. Jayson Stark noted on Twitter, via Elias Sports Bureau, that the Phils are the first team ever to lose six in a row right after clinching. An interesting statistic, but nothing to worry about in my opinion. The pressure is off, the team is rotating in young players and non starters, and they're gearing up for the playoff push. An argument can be made the team needs some wins to keep positive momentum. However, I would not assume this current lapse is indicative of their upcoming playoff performance.
200,000th Major League Game
Baseball-Reference.com has a countdown on their main page toward the 200,000th major league game dating back to 1876. They estimate that game to take place tomorrow, September 24, 2011. Each season, the league plays about 2430 games, so it will be quite some time before another historic game like this one.
Wild Card Races
In the AL, the Red Sox could potentially see a collapse that would make the 2007 Mets and 1964 Phils gaffaw. With only 6 games to go, Tampa Bay is on their heels, a mere 2 games back as of this posting. The Angels are also lurking at a modest 3 games behind. The NL Wild Card hunt is far from over as well. The Braves seemed like a lock a few weeks ago, but the St. Louis Cardinals are not done fighting and will take this race down to the wire. The Red Birds have gone 14-6 in September compared to the Braves' 8-13 record. The Cards sit just 2 games back. The division winners are pretty well sealed at this point, but we should have an exciting WC finish in both leagues.