The push for the playoffs is heating up in MLB and teams are fighting it out in their respective divisions to push their seasons into October. And with the trade deadline just 5 days away, things could get even more exciting in the coming week. In the mean time, here is a look at some of the top teams in each division, as well as how things could shake up as we move closer to the playoffs.
The Baltimore Orioles currently lead the AL East with a 57-45 record, including a 6-4 mark in their last 10 games. The heart of this O’s team is Nelson Cruz. He leads the team with 29 home runs, 75 RBIs and a .888 OPS. Overall, the O’s are ninth in the league with 435 runs, sixth with a .260 batting average, and fifth with a .416 slugging percentage. If the O’s hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012, they’ll need Cruz and the rest of their offense to keep things rolling. Baltimore currently sits at 16/1 odds to win the World Series this season.
Fighting for second place in the AL East are the Yankees and Blue Jays. After finishing in last place in the division last year, the Blue Jays have been powered by Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion on offense. The Jays are top 10 in the league in runs, fifth with 471, batting average, fifth at .261, on base percentage, seventh at .328, and slugging percentage, third at .426. As For the Yankees, they are hoping to make for a memorable final season Derek Jeter. Despite having a one-game lead ahead of the Jays, the Yankees are at 50/1 odds, while Toronto is at 30/1.
The Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in the league with an 8-2 stretch in their last ten. They are still 7.5 games back, but they’ve moved up to 80/1 odds. Also at 80/1 odds is the Boston Red Sox, who find themselves 10.5 games back from the division-leading Orioles.
Detroit has the biggest divisional lead of any other team in the league. They are 6 games ahead of Kansas City, though the Royals have won their last four games. The Tigers rely on slugging and their power at the plate. They are second in the league in batting average (.278), on base percentage (.332), and slugging percentage (.435). They also are fourth in the league with 475 runs. Victor Martinez is lighting things up for the Tigers this year, as he has a .322 batting average and leads the team with 21 home runs. Detroit currently sits at 11/2 odds to win the World Series.
One of the more surprising teams in the league this year has been the Kansas City Royals. They had a nine game winning streak earlier in the season, though they haven’t been nearly as hot lately. They are still 5-5 in their last ten, including, as mentioned, winners of four in a row. The Royals currently sit at 50/1 odds, which is something nobody expected when the season first started. A big reason for their success has been their .263 batting average, which is fourth best in the league.
The rest of the AL Central find themselves with plenty of work to do if they want to catch up with the Tigers or Royals. The Indians are 7.5 games back, the White Sox are 9 back, and the Twins are 12 back.
The Oakland A’s are at it again as they are surprisingly leading the AL West with a two game lead over the Angels. Their 63 wins is also tops in the league, but they have slowed down as of late – going 5-5 in their last 10 outings. Oakland leads the league in runs scored with 510, and they are fifth with a .330 team on base percentage. The A’s have are second best in the league with 11/2 odds to win the World Series.
Breathing down the necks of the A’s is the Angels, who many assumed would win the AL West when the season first started. The Angels’ have a star-studded lineup that is led by Mike Trout – who pretty much leads LA in every offensives statistical category. As a team, the Angels are second in the league with 502 runs and third with a .265 batting average. The Angels have slightly lower odds than the A’s, at 12/1 odds to win the World Series. The race for the AL West might be one of the more exciting storylines as we head into the final part of the season. Be sure to check with sportspick.com handicappers for insight as the Angels and A’s go at it to see who wins the division in 2014.
Aside from the A’s and the Angels, the rest of the AL West is all but out of it. The Mariners are 10.5 games back, while the Astros and Rangers are 21.5 and 22.5 games back, respectively.
As we shift gears to the National League, the Washington Nationals lead things in their division with a 2.5 game advantage over Atlanta. The Nationals are tied for a league-low 350 runs against, and their team ERA of .310 is tops in the majors. The Nationals may not have the most impressive firepower on offense, but that doesn’t make a difference if their pitching rotation can keep winning games. They currently have 10/1 odds to win the World Series, which is third best in the league.
The Braves represented the NL East in the playoffs last season with a 10-game margin over the Nationals. This year they are two games back as we are about to enter August, but they’ve also lost their last two games. Atlanta doesn’t get much done on offense, but their pitching staff has the most quality starts in the majors with 71. They also have the fifth best ERA at 3.32. Both the Braves and the Nationals made the playoffs in 2012, and we could be looking at a repeat of that same scenario if they both keep things up in the final months of the season.
The Miami Marlins have won their last two games, but they are still 8 games back of the NL East lead. The third-place Mets find themselves 8.5 games back, and the Phillies are 12.5 back.
The NL Central may be one of the most volatile divisions in the league, as it’s seen a hefty shakeup over in the last few weeks. The Brewers, who now find themselves three games ahead of St. Louis, are in that position due to the Cardinals current four game losing streak. The Brew Crew were 23 games out of first place in the AL Central last year, but getting Ryan Braun back has been a huge addition. Braun leads the team with 60 RBIs, while Kyle Loshe has a team-high 3.07 batting average. The Brewers pitching staff has 66 quality starts, which is second best in the league. The Brewers currently have 20/1 odds to win the World Series, which just so happens to be lower than the Cardinals.
Speaking of the Cardinals, they’ll hope to shake whatever has gotten into their system in the last week. St. Louis is just 4-6 in their last 10 and have slowly fallen to a tie with the Pirates as they are both three games behind Milwaukee. St. Louis still leads the division with 15/1 odds to win the World Series, but they’ll have to quickly turn things around if they want to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Despite currently sitting at 50/1 odds, fans in Pittsburgh hope that the Pirates can make a late season push to make the playoffs for a second year in a row. The Pirates are best in the league with a .333 on base percentage. They also have Andrew McCutchen, who leads the team in batting average (.318), home runs (17), RBIs (63), and runs (59). The Pirates lost to a dreadful Rockies team on Friday, but they are still 6-4 in their last 10.
The Cincinnati Reds were in the hunt for October just a few weeks ago, but they’ve now lost seven games in a row and are six back of the NL Central lead. The Chicago Cubs are, well, the Chicago Cubs, and they are 14.5 back.
Much like in the American League, the NL West has two teams duking it while the rest of the division is pretty much out of the race. The Giants currently lead things by just half-a-game, but they’ve lost two in a row which may worry fans in San Fran. The Giants are lead by Hunter Pence – who leads the team in batting average, home runs, runs, and on base percentage- and Buster Posey, who has 53 RBIs. The Giants currently sit at 16/1 odds, which is well behind the second place Dodgers.
As for the Dodgers, they lead the league with 5/1 odds to win the World Series in 2014. These odds probably have a lot to do with the well-rounded efforts from both their pitching staff and their work at the plate. They are 10th in the league in runs, 433, eighth in batting average, .248, and sixth with a .330 team batting average. Their pitching staff also is seventh best in the majors with a 3.38 ERA, and they have 65 quality starts. The Dodgers currently find themselves in a three game stretch with the Giants, which they won the first game with a resounding 8-1 score.
The rest of the NL West includes the Padres, who are 10.5 games back, Diamond Backs, 13 back, and Rockies, 14.5 back.
With August just around the corner, teams are honing in on making a late push for the playoffs. While some teams are out of it, we still have plenty of exciting matchups that will make for a great next few months before the World Series in October.