Sunday, August 11, 2019

MLB Update

A few observations with about a month and a half left in the regular season.

Let's start with the National League.  Here are the standings:

Los Angeles:  79-41 --
Atlanta:  70-50  9
Chicago:  64-54  14
Washington:  62-55  15 1/2
St. Louis:  61-55  16
Milwaukee:  62-57  16 1/2
New York:  61-57  17
Philadelphia:  60-57  17 1/2
Arizona:  59-59  19
San Francisco:  58-60  20
Cincinnati:  56-60  21
San Diego:  55-62  22 1/2
Colorado:  53-65  25
Pittsburgh:  48-69  29 1/2
Miami:  44-73  33 1/2

This season is either a good argument for or against the modern playoff system, depending on your viewpoint.  To me, it's absurd to have a playoff to determine who is really the best team in the NL, because everyone knows that the Dodgers are the best team in the NL.  It's not close.  The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 192 runs this season -- no other NL team has outscored its opponents by more than 80 runs.  Right now, the Dodgers are on pace to win almost 107 games -- they'll probably ease up toward the end of the season, but again no one else is even close.  So in my opinion, the Dodgers should win the NL pennant.  And they probably will, but they will have to survive the playoffs.

So who should Dodger fans worry about?  To me, there are two teams they should hope to avoid.  One is the Cubs, who were the last NL team to beat the Dodgers in the playoffs, all the way back in 2016.  The Cubs haven't been all that great this year, mainly because they are 23-35 on the road.  But on their day, they can be very dangerous.

The other team that would worry me is the Mets, who were terrible most of the year, but who are suddenly very hot.  New York just took two out of three from the Nats, and they have a strong chance at the wild card.  Historically, the Mets usually implode pretty soon out of the gate, and don't make much of an impact.  But whenever the Mets can survive their own problems, they are a tough out.  In 1969, 1973, 2000, and 2015, the Mets came from off the pace to win the National League pennant, and that 2015 team beat the Dodgers and the Cubs.  No other NL team, including the Dodgers, should want to play a post-season series in Queens.

I'm really hoping the Reds get up to .500.  I do not want the Reds to go the way of the Pirates.

What about the American League?  Here are the standings:

Houston:  77-41  ---
New York:  77-41 ---
Cleveland:  71-47  6
Minnesota:  71-47  6
Tampa Bay:  69-50  8 1/2
Oakland:  67-51  10
Boston:  62-58  16
Texas:  59-58  17 1/2
Los Angeles:  58-61  19 1/2
Chicago:  52-64  24
Toronto:  49-72  29 1/2
Seattle:  48-71  29 1/2
Kansas City:  43-76  34 1/2
Baltimore:  39-78  37 1/2
Detroit:  35-80  40 1/2

Ever since Houston went down to the bottom and built a great team, there are always a few teams in the AL that are among some of the worst teams in baseball history.  You see, most NL teams figure that they aren't that far away from making the playoffs, so most of them at least start the season trying to compete.  But in the AL, you're going to have to get past the Yankees and the Red Sox, so you always have teams that are tanking.  This year it's the Royals, Orioles, and Tigers -- all of whom played in the ALCS within the last few years.

Anyway, the big story this year is that the Red Sox -- who last year had one of the best clubs I've ever seen -- are in grave danger of missing the playoffs.  The Red Sox line-up is as formidable as ever -- they have scored 688 runs so far this year, 40 more runs than the Dodgers, and more than any team in baseball except for the Yankees.  But Bosox pitching has been terrible.  They have allowed 628 runs -- in the AL, only the Mariners, Orioles, and Tigers have done worse.

So that means that we are probably looking at an ALCS between the Astros and the Yankees -- unless a red-hot Cleveland team can pull an upset in the Divisional Playoffs.  In 2017, the Astros and Yankees went seven games in the ALCS, and it was one of the most exciting playoff series I can remember.  Last year, both the Astros and the Yankees fell to the Boston juggernaut.  But now they are back.  Both the Astros and the Yankees are really, really good, and a playoff between them would make up for the overall lack of drama that we've seen so far this season.


  1. I am rooting for the A's and the Nationals.

  2. Big game in Citizens Bank Park tonight -- Phillies going for a sweep over the Cubs. The Cubs dominate the game all night, and lead 5-1 going into the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Fighting Phils scratch out two runs to make the score 5-3. They have the bases loaded with one out and Bryce Harper at the plate. On a 2-2 pitch, Harper absolutely crushes a GRAND SLAM into the upper deck in right field. Phils win 7-5 with SIX RUNS in the ninth. The Philly fans who refused to give up go absolutely nuts. Harper races around the basepaths like a madman. Baseball is wonderful.

  3. I have underestimated the Braves. I had been assuming that this Braves team is like all the other Braves teams for the last 20 years that didn't do much in the playoffs. But these Braves appear to be made of sterner stuff. They have gone 8-2 since I made this post, and a lot of those games have been against very good, or very hot teams. Tonight they went to Shea Stadium -- or whatever the Mets call their home field these days -- and held off a Mets team that had won five games in a row. Atlanta won 2-1 in 14 innings for their sixth straight win, and I'm starting to think that they will be a tough out in the playoffs.

  4. Braves beat Mets 8-5 to win their seventh game in a row.