The Hunt for October

As we come down the home stretch of the Major League Baseball season, the playoff picture is coming more in focus.  While some races are no longer even a race, see the American League East, others have not sorted themselves out just yet.  The National Central and West have their top two teams separated by 3.5 and 4 games respectively.  The Dodgers and Cardinals are one bad series away from letting the Giants and Pirates back into the race; ultimately Los Angeles and St. Louis control their own destinies.

While the race for the division does not have the nail-biting, down to the wire action which we have seen in past years, the Wild Card race is full of life.  The American League Wild Card race has plenty of intrigue.  The Athletics continue with their late season swoon, yet remain on top of the Wild Card race.  This shows how well the Athletics were playing before this extended rough patch.  The Royals are clinging to a two game lead over the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot.  The Royals have not played a playoff game since the 1985 World Series.  Kansas City is ready to host a playoff game, and reenergize their long suffering fan base.  The Mariners have turned things around quickly in the Pacific Northwest.  Few people expected Seattle to be right back in the playoff hunt, even after signing Robinson Cano.  The Mariners keep winning despite the apparent holes in their team.  The American League Wild Card race is coming down to the wire with one team trying to capitalize on the success it has built through a reinvention of baseball scouting, while the other two teams look to return to the playoffs after rebuilding and reenergizing their fan base.

Josh Harrison has kept the Pirates fan base energized after their return to the playoffs last season. (www.post-gazette.com)

Josh Harrison has kept the Pirates fan base energized after their return to the playoffs last season. (www.post-gazette.com)

The National League Wild Card race has San Francisco leading, while it is also desperately trying to chase down the Dodgers to avoid the Wild Card game.  The Pirates are holding the second Wild Card slot after a second half surge, made all the more impressive with Andrew McCutchen missing time due to injury and the brilliant play of Josh Harrison.  Lurking just 1.5 games behind Pittsburgh is Milwaukee.  The Brewers have gone from leading the National League Central to fighting for their playoff lives.  Milwaukee surprised everyone with their success through two-thirds of the season, but it appears the season is going to be a little too long for the Brewers.  The Braves have all but played themselves out of the playoffs with a woefully inconsistent offense.  Atlanta has fallen back to the .500 mark and is not showing signs of reviving this season.  National League Central foes look to fight it out for the final playoff spot this season.

Mike Trout could be leading the Angels to a World Series Championship. (www.huffingtonpost.com)

Mike Trout could be leading the Angels to a World Series Championship. (www.huffingtonpost.com)

Looking around baseball it would be easy to simply say the World Series will be a freeway series between the Dodgers and the Angels.  However, baseball is funny in that you can be red hot one week and then it can all fall apart.  The Nationals or Cardinals could beat the Dodgers in a series.  All it takes is some timely hitting and for the Dodgers rotation to have a bad start or two.  San Francisco could go on a tear.  While they look destined to host the Wild Card game, they could have just as easily won the division if they were not in the National League West.  The Angels are also not a lock to make the World Series.  The Athletics could start clicking again and go on a crazy winning streak in the playoffs and knock anyone out.  The Orioles and Tigers are no push overs either.  While there does seem to be a possibility of a Dodgers-Angels World Series there is plenty of baseball left in the regular season and in the playoffs to ruin the all Los Angeles World Series.  It is time to enjoy the hunt for October.

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