2012 MLB Update #4 – The Home Stretch

First, apologies in advance for the lack of attentiveness and diligence with putting together baseball missives – indeed the season has flown by, and the Red Sox-Dodgers blockbuster clearly announced the exit of Boston from the pennant chase and reconfigured the race for 2012 and beyond.  Or did it really?  A bit more on this, but first, the rankings as of today:

Rank Team W L Pythag SOS Recent RecRank Total
1 Saint Louis Cardinals 71 57 0.61 (1) 0.51 (2) 0.573 3 0.564
2 Atlanta Braves 73 56 0.579 (5) 0.496 (20) 0.616 2 0.564
3 Tampa Bay Rays 70 58 0.57 (6) 0.493 (23) 0.625 1 0.563
4 Washington Nationals 77 50 0.6 (2) 0.505 (6) 0.561 4 0.555
5 Chicago White Sox 71 56 0.565 (8) 0.505 (7) 0.557 5 0.542
6 Texas Rangers 76 52 0.593 (3) 0.496 (19) 0.536 11 0.542
7 Cincinnati Reds 78 52 0.568 (7) 0.508 (3) 0.537 10 0.538
8 New York Yankees 74 54 0.585 (4) 0.484 (30) 0.538 9 0.536
9 Oakland Athletics 70 57 0.541 (9) 0.493 (25) 0.544 8 0.526
10 Detroit Tigers 69 58 0.528 (12) 0.495 (22) 0.552 6 0.525
11 Milwaukee Brewers 60 67 0.507 (17) 0.514 (1) 0.545 7 0.522
12 Los Angeles Dodgers 69 60 0.53 (11) 0.507 (5) 0.523 14 0.52
13 Arizona Diamondbacks 64 65 0.527 (13) 0.505 (8) 0.525 13 0.519
14 San Francisco Giants 71 57 0.53 (10) 0.501 (11) 0.506 16 0.512
15 Seattle Mariners 62 67 0.504 (18) 0.488 (28) 0.533 12 0.508
16 Boston Red Sox 62 67 0.527 (14) 0.493 (24) 0.49 17 0.503
17 Pittsburgh Pirates 68 60 0.51 (16) 0.507 (4) 0.463 23 0.493
18 San Diego Padres 60 70 0.452 (23) 0.504 (9) 0.513 15 0.49
19 Anaheim Angels 66 62 0.52 (15) 0.492 (26) 0.451 25 0.488
20 Philadelphia Phillies 61 67 0.478 (19) 0.5 (12) 0.479 19 0.485
21 Kansas City Royals 56 71 0.451 (24) 0.499 (15) 0.484 18 0.478
22 Baltimore Orioles 70 57 0.46 (22) 0.488 (27) 0.474 20 0.474
23 Colorado Rockies 52 75 0.423 (25) 0.5 (13) 0.474 21 0.466
24 Minnesota Twins 52 76 0.41 (27) 0.496 (21) 0.466 22 0.457
25 New York Mets 59 69 0.464 (21) 0.497 (18) 0.41 27 0.457
26 Chicago Cubs 49 78 0.4 (28) 0.499 (14) 0.456 24 0.452
27 Miami Marlins 58 71 0.411 (26) 0.498 (16) 0.439 26 0.449
28 Toronto Blue Jays 57 70 0.47 (20) 0.488 (29) 0.367 30 0.442
29 Cleveland Indians 55 73 0.386 (29) 0.498 (17) 0.378 28 0.421
30 Houston Astros 40 88 0.338 (30) 0.502 (10) 0.369 29 0.403

If we went and projected records (using ranking for rest of season), your playoff seeds:

American League:

  1. Texas Rangers (94-68)
  2. New York Yankees (92-70)
  3. Chicago White Sox (90-72)
  4. Oakland Athletics (88-74)
  5. Detroit Tigers (87-75)

National League

  1. Washington Nationals (96-66)
  2. Cincinnati Reds (95-67)
  3. San Francisco Giants (88-74)
  4. Atlanta Braves (92-70)
  5. Saint Louis Cardinals (90-72)
  • Obviously, the Nationals’ magical season has continued unabated.  There is the Stephen Strasburg drama – and the Nationals decision is defensible, although I definitely disagree – but even without him their rotation is formidable.  That said, a rotation sans Strasburg and a fairly pedestrian lineup could spell a short stay in October.
  • On the other hand, the Cardinals are still in a strong chase for the wild card.  The Giants, Dodgers, Pirates are all still very much in the chase.  That said, unlike the Nationals, the Cardinals seem the total package.  Their league best pythagorean speaks to just how strong their peripherals are.  The wins have not showed up frequently enough, but this is a seriously dangerous outfit if they can find their way into the main draw.  The Braves-Cardinals wild card game might be the most dramatic single game of the entire NL playoffs.
  • The Dodgers as of now rate as an 86-76 team, but this is without considering the fascinating trade which netted them Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.  Is there reason to think these changes will help them to close the gap with either the Giants or Cards?  Well, Adrian Gonzalez is going to have a huge impact – not just because he is a good ballplayer, but because he is replacing James Loney – who is providing middle infield level production at first freakin base.  Anytime you can bounce back from true replacement level to fringy elite, there can be an outsized impact in the wash.  As a Red Sox fan though, it is hard to see Josh Beckett bouncing back to more than 4/5 sort of starter though.  The pitches don’t work anymore and his own approach to pitching has never been “crafty”.
  • The deal guarantees nothing for Boston obviously.  Prospects are dudes who haven’t delivered in a major league capacity – that is the point.  The only major league body they have is James Loney, who is barely that.  That said, the prospects Boston did get were among the best in the Dodgers’ system – both De La Rosa and Webster have been graded very favorability as arms with significant promise.  That the Red Sox got actual prospects in a salary dump is a small miracle.  The Red Sox have some of their future back – which says good things about Ben Cherington as GM – if the bizarre, status obsessed ownership lets him do his thing.  But can these owners leave well enough alone and let winning move the needle?  Well, that’s the allotment of optimism I have for my day.
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