Tracking the AL East & Wild Card Races

Below is the Observer playoff tracker for the next two weeks.  I picked the categories that I did because I think they provide the simplest and clearest snapshot of where the teams currently are and what they need to do in order to make the playoffs. I left out winning percentages of the remaining opponents because I am not sure how much that truly matters at this juncture.  I think it muddles the picture a little too much.  Yes, the Tigers have their last 13 games against teams that are well under .500.  They also have so much room in the wild card race to make up that they would have to post a 13-4 record to even reach 90 wins – a milestone the O’s can reach by simply going 8-8.  At this point, the wins and the number of games back or ahead really tell most of the story.  No team has such an easy schedule or such a difficult schedule that it really puts them at a tremendous advantage or disadvantage at this point.  If the Tigers were at 81 or 82 wins at this point with an easy schedule coming up, then maybe it would be more of a factor but it really isn’t right now.

I chose 90, 92, and 94 win increments for a reason.  89 or 90 wins seems to be the floor for the 2nd wild card spot.  For the second wild card team to make it in with 88 wins or less, the O’s would have to go 6-10 or worse, the Angels 8-7 or worse, the Rays 10-6 or worse, and the Tigers 11-6 or worse all at the same time.  It is not likely that four teams that have played well over .500 for 146 games would all of a sudden struggle at the same time like that so that each team fails to hit the 90-win mark.  I choose 92 and 94 wins largely because those are very reachable win totals for Oakland and New York, so we can get a good idea of what the O’s might need to do to catch those two teams for the 1st wild card and AL East titles, respectively.

I will update every day, hopefully with a little blurb updating where every team is at.

9/20/2012 UPDATE - The Orioles won their 15th straight extra-inning game last night although fortunately for me and my already sleep deprived state, they managed to do so before 4 AM ET this time.  Elsewhere, the Yankees swept a double header against the Blue Jays (although they did not look too convincing in doing it), Detroit handed Oakland its third straight loss, the Angels beat the Rangers, and Tampa took out its recent frustrations by clobbering Boston by a score of 13-2.  All in all, it was a good night for the O's playoff chances, with the exception of the Yankee's picking up two wins.  The Birds could still use some help from other teams, but as long as they keep winning, they should remain in good shape.  The Orioles now hold the first wild card spot by 1/2 game over the A's.  Getting that top wild card spot - and the home field advantage that comes with it - would be a nice consolation prize if the Orioles fail to catch the Yankees in the division.

9/19/2012 UPDATE -  The Orioles won an 18-inning marathon last night (this morning?) over the Mariners.  The Yankees and Blue Jays were rained out in New York and will play a split double header today.  The Yankees do not have an off day the rest of the way and the Jays will now have to play two double headers in 6 days, with the second one coming against the O's on the 24th.  Detroit blew out Oakland and the Angels destroyed the Rangers to keep pace with the O's in the wild card hunt.  Oakland's loss and the Orioles' win moves the O's to 1/2 game back of the A's for the 1st AL Wild Card spot.  The Orioles are now tied with the Yankees for 1st, although the Yankees are technically hundreds of a percentage point ahead of the Orioles due to the fact that the O's have now played two more games than the New Yorkers.  Tampa lost to Boston again and are all but eliminated from wild card contention.  Updated information is below.

9/18/2012 UPDATE - The Orioles defeated the Mariners last night by a score of 10-4.  Most of their competition - Anaheim, Oakland, and New York - were idle, allowing the O's to gain a 1/2 game on all of those teams.  Tampa continued what is increasingly looking more and more like a free fall with a 5-2 loss to Boston that included a near fist fight between starting pitcher Alex Cobb and his catcher, Jose Molina, in the Rays dugout.  The Tigers also lost again, dropping a make-up game to the White Sox in Chicago.  Both Detroit's and Tampa's postseason chances are rapidly fading.  Both teams would have to go on big runs - and have a lot of help - to reach the wild card at this stage.

Baltimore Orioles

Current Record:                85-64

1st Wild Card:                      +0.5 (Oakland)

2nd Wild Card:                     +4.0 games (Anaheim)

AL East:                                0.5 GB (New York)

Games Remaining:          13

Opponents:                        @ Boston (3 games), vs. Toronto (4 games), vs. Boston (3 games), @ Tampa (3 games)

Record to 90 wins:           5-8

Record to 92 wins:           7-6

Record to 94 wins:           9-4

New York Yankees:

Current Record:                85-63

1st Wild Card:                    N/A

2nd Wild Card:                  N/A

AL East:                            +0.5

Games Remaining:          14

Opponents:                        vs. Toronto (1 game), vs. Oakland (3 games), @ Minnesota (3 games), @ Toronto (4 games), vs. Boston (3 games)

Record to 90 wins:           5-9

Record to 92 wins:           7-7

Record to 94 wins:           9-5

Oakland Athletics:

Current Record:                84-64

1st Wild Card:                   0.5 GB

2nd Wild Card:                 0.5 GB

AL East:                             N/A

Games Remaining:          14

Opponents:                        @ Detroit (1 game), @ New York Yankees (3 games), @. Texas (4 games), vs. Seattle (3 games), vs. Texas (3 games)

Record to 90 wins:           6-8

Record to 92 wins:           8-6

Record to 94 wins:           10-4

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Current Record:                81-68

1st Wild Card:                    4.0 GB (Baltimore)

2nd Wild Card:                   3.5 GB (Oakland)

AL East:                              N/A

Games Remaining:           13

Opponents:                        vs. Texas (1 game), vs. Chicago (3 games), vs. Seattle (3 games), @ Texas (3 games), @ Seattle (3 games)

Record to 90 wins:           9-4

Record to 92 wins:           11-2

Record to 94 wins:           13-0

Tampa Bay Rays:

Current Record:                79-70

1st Wild Card:                    6.0 GB (Baltimore)

2nd Wild Card:                   5.5 GB (Oakland)

AL East:                              6.5 GB (Baltimore)

Games Remaining:          13

Opponents:                        vs. Boston (1 game), vs. Toronto (3 games), @ Boston (3 games), @ Chicago (4 games), vs. Baltimore (3 games)

Record to 90 wins:           11-2

Record to 92 wins:           13-0

Record to 94 wins:           Eliminated

Detroit Tigers:

Current Record:                79-69

1st Wild Card:                    5.5 GB (Baltimore)

2nd Wild Card:                  5.0 GB (Oakland)

AL East:                             N/A

Games Remaining:          14

Opponents:                        vs. Oakland (1 game), vs. Minnesota (3 games), vs. Kansas City (4 games), @ Minnesota (3 games), @ Kansas City (3 games)

Record to 90 wins:           11-3

Record to 92 wins:           13-1

Record to 94 wins:           Eliminated