Last week I gave you a rundown of the NL playoff races, standings, schedules, etc. Today? Based on what happened over the weekend, it seems time to break out the dreaded Tie Breaker Rules, plus a set of updated schedule/standings charts for both the NL and AL.
All right… yes, I’ll do it: “Hi. My name is Alan and I’m obsessed with baseball.“ There. I’ve admitted my addiction. Let’s move on.
American League… more on this one below.
Once again – if you, too, are obsessed – feel free to click on each graphic for a bigger version to print out and display so that all of those in your world can know the awkward feeling of being around an OCD baseball fan. +/- numbers in the first column represent the games ahead/behind in the race of most importance to the team involved.
* – Home field advantage leaders, with leads that take the tie-breakers into consideration. Atlanta’s lead over the Dodgers is 3 games in the newspaper standings, but technically 4 games overall, thanks to a 4-3 season series advantage over LA. More on this below.
** – As of today, Texas would host the AL Wild Card game by virture of its record (2-1) over Tampa Bay this year. However, that lead is up for grabs starting tonight: the two teams play 4 games at the Trop.
The AL race is (also) certifiably crazy, but should look a lot more clear by the end of the week. The Yankees cost themselves big-time by getting swept… albeit at Boston, so it wasn’t terribly unexpected. It’s the Orioles turn in that Fenway Park grinder next. By here’s my prognostication of how this will all play out:
- Baltimore is reeling. I say that despite a 5-5 run in their last 10 games, but that (if anything) was the soft part of their month. They see the Red Sox twice, plus the Rays and Jays. Last year they won a ton of 1-run games. This year has completely flipped the other way, and that’s why they are this far back. They have no shot.
- Kansas City. Their only chance comes immediately: they must beat Cleveland… sweep them, in fact. Then they need to beat up the Rangers – which might actually be possible. If they can take 5 of their next 6, then the Royals might do it. But maybe not even then. I say they fall short.
- Yankees. I can’t even believe they are still in the hunt, frankly. Their schedule isn’t good and the schedules of others don’t help them, either. Their pitching looks tired, and … well, I just think they’ve been running on fumes for a while. They could play .500 ball the rest of the way, though, and still end up with Baltimore – on the outside, looking in.
- Cleveland. Their scheduling luck could not have broken any better: finishing with 10 games against the worst teams in the entire league. All they need is one win vs. KC… and maybe not even that. I believe that the Indians will not only be in the playoffs, but hosting the Wild Card game.
- Texas is (nearly) toast. 2-11 in September. It’s yet another late swoon, but started earlier this year. A playoff berth was their to lose, and they’ve all but lost it. Granted, the schedule didn’t help them, but it’s not getting any better. Today they will be in St. Petersburg to play the Rays – start of a 4 game set. With KC and Anaheim still to play (they are 14-2 vs. Houston), they’d better figure it out quick. Trouble is, even playing .500 ball won’t be enough unless Tampa also falters. It may go down to the last day – but I say Tampa beats out the Rangers for the last Wild Card slot.
- Tampa Bay. The other important part of their Texas series is that the tie-breaker matchup with Texas is also at stake. A 2-2 split gives that advantage to Texas; the Rays have to win 3 of the 4 to claim the season-series victory. While I think Tampa will prevail over Texas, I do believe one of those teams will travel to Cleveland for the Wild Card game.
Let’s get into it: multiple sources were used to verify this info. The rules for breaking ties between two teams are…
- First tie-breaker rule: head-to-head competition. That’s why winning a season series is so important. Atlanta holds this advantage over every team that matters. The AL is not so clear.
- Second rule: overall record within your own league. This could matter – I’ll explain below.
- Third rule: overall record within your own league for the most recent 81 games played. Why 81? I don’t know.
- Final rule: same as the third rule, but for 82 games… then 83, 84, 85, … etc. until you get a difference.
Oakland and Boston played six games this year – and split them 3 to 3. Oakland’s interleague play this year went 13-7. Boston’s is 13-5 so far… with a 2-gamer in Denver still to go. If these teams end up tied in overall record after their 162nd games, then Boston’s performance vs. Colorado might settle the that tie-breaker. If Boston loses both, then we’d go to the third rule (and no – I’m not counting that up – I’ll be happy to let our friends elsewhere do that!). If they were to win either game, then a 14-6 NL record would actually give Oakland the advantage by having won more AL-only games. But for now, I’m counting the BoSox home-field advantage lead at 3.
If Pittsburgh and St. Louis end the season in a tie, they will stage a 1-game playoff to determine the division winner. The host would be Pittsburgh by virtue of rule 1 above. The loser would host the Wild Card game (based on standings as of today).
If Pitt, St. Louis, and Cincy all tie for the division title, … then we don’t know yet since Cincy and Pittsburgh still have six games together. But it gets pretty ugly the way things break out right now. The three- and four-way scenarios are nutty – but awesome.
Here’s the head-to-head tie-breakers:
- ATL – holds advantage over everybody in the NL
- STL – wins over CIN, WASH.
- PIT – wins over STL, CIN (7-6 so far), WASH
- CIN – wins over LAD
- LAD – wins PIT, STL, WASH
- WASH – wins over CIN only
- BOS – wins over CLE, NYY, TAM. Unknown vs. OAK
- TAM – wins over CLE, NYY, OAK, BAL. TEX undetermined (behind 1-2). Likely would win over Detroit
- BAL – wins over BOS, OAK, DET,
- NYY – wins over BAL, CLE, KC, DET
- DET – wins over BOS, Likely would fail with TAM
- CLE – wins over BAL, KC (9-7 so far), TEX
- KC – wins over BOS, TAM, BAL
- OAK – wins over DET, KC, NYY, TEX. Unknown vs. BOS
- TEX – wins over BOS TAM undetermined (ahead 2-1).
That’s enough for now… time for Atlanta to get the bats going vs. the Nationals tonight – and hopefully throw cold water on their late-season surge.