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As baseball rapidly approaches its end, teams are jockeying for those possible playoff spots. With a little more than a month to go, September will be a wild battleground to determine whose at the top or bottom.
While a lot of teams may look like contenders, amongst them are pretenders that could flame out before the playoffs or in the first round, this is a whose-who.
New York Yankees: Contender
The Yankees had a wild ride to get here, having lost more than half of their roster, using plug and play replacements and even giving second and third chances to players that were otherwise seen as “no future.” Through all of it, they’re one of the best teams in baseball. Beginning of the year looked to be lost, now they may have a chance at their 28th World Series.
The one thing standing in the Yankees way is their pitching staff. This has been an issue which has kept them at bay the last three years, despite having some of the most productive line-ups. That said, it’s hard not to see the Yankees as anything other than contenders right now.
Minnesota Twins: Pretenders
The Twins are young, they’re fun to watch, they’re excitable but they’re also not ready to win it all. If comparable, the Twins are like the 2013 Kansas City Royals. They have the young players mixed with veterans that works and they’re just a good team all around. The only difference is the Twins actually have held the division lead almost all season.
There are two things that will keep the Twins from winning the division. First, the Cleveland Indians look revitalized to the point that they’re essentially one big run away from running away with the division. The other thing is they’re lack of postseason experience all around.
Rocco Baldelli is in his first year as a manager and most of the players on the roster have never played in October.
Replacement: Cleveland Indians win the division, Minnesota Twins lose in the Wild Card round.
Houston Astros: Contenders
The Astros always seem to be orbiting in they’re own galaxy it seems come playoff time. They’re usually up by at least five games and this year is no different.
While the Oakland A’s are starting to surge, they’ll only really see wild card action. Houston’s pitching and depth is what will get them far in the playoffs. This could be the year Houston goes back to the World Series.
Atlanta Braves: Contenders
It’s a good thing the Braves have a comfortable lead in the division because the National League Wild Card race is heating up between the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and others. As long as the Braves keep the ship steady, they’ll be hard to beat.
Last year’s run showed they have the potential to go to the World Series. They’ll have to get by the Los Angeles Dodgers but realistically they could be the one team with the best chance to upset them.
Chicago Cubs/St. Louis Cardinals: Pretenders
The reason these two are grouped together is because they’ll more than likely be trading the lead back and forth in the division, unless the Milwaukee Brewers go on a run. However, they’re both pretenders.
The Cubs could do some damage once they get to the playoffs but as a whole, they seem to be underachieving a bit. Same with the Cardinals as they also have a bolstered line up filled with power and speed but they haven’t fully put it together.
The one thing that will really hurt them is their lack of success on the road. When you can’t win road games and you’re not the best team in baseball, it’s an uphill battle.
Prediction: Cardinals win the division, Cubs the Wild Card, but both knocked out early.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Contenders
Simply put, the Dodgers are baseball’s best team right now. What’s even scarier is they’re 20 games up on the second place team in their division, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Basically the Dodgers should win the World Series.
The one fear with Los Angeles is sometimes the best doesn’t get it done. They’ve been on the top of the mountain all year and have faced limited to no adversity. Could the third time be the charm for the Los Angeles Dodgers?