With the Major League Baseball regular season screeching to a halt, arms are heavy and palms are sweaty as teams look to cement their place in baseball history.
While most teams are preparing to go home for the winter, a select few ball clubs are gearing up for arguably the most nail-biting tournament in all of sports, the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs. After 162 grueling games only eight teams will remain standing.
In the American League (AL), the wildcard race is coming down to the wire to decide the final playoff spot. While division leaders Boston, Detroit, and Oakland have comfortably clinched a playoff spot, the wildcard spot couldn’t be more wide open. In the MLB,
the two teams that finish with the best record behind their division leaders play a one-game series to select the final playoff spot. At season’s end, Cleveland holds the number one spot in the wildcard while Texas and Tampa Bay are tied for second place. As a result of this tie, Texas and Tampa Bay will play a one-game series to decide who plays the Indians for the wild card spot. Rarely in MLB history has the wild card race come down to this predicament. Baseball enthusiasts across the country simply can’t wait for the outcome of the AL wild card race.
Meanwhile in the National League (NL), the stakes are also high to capture the last playoff position. Atlanta, St. Louis, and Los Angeles are sitting atop their divisions while the wildcard teams battle it out. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have emerged as the two wildcard teams that will compete in a one-game series for all the marbles. The winner will advance to face one of the three division leaders and the loser will go home and begin the offseason.
The end-of-season award races serve as another source of anticipation for baseball fans. Many fans are heavily awaiting the results of the MVP award. In the AL, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers seems like a favorite to win yet another MVP title. The former triple-crown winner has been putting together another spectacular season with a league-leading batting average of .348. Surprisingly, Cabrera does have a bit of competition for the MVP title. Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has had a stellar batting season, leading the AL in home runs with 53, and in RBIs with 138. While Davis has made a good case for the award, it will likely go to Cabrera because of his team’s overall record.
A tighter race will be the AL Cy Young award, an award for the best pitchers in the MLB. Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers leads the league in wins with 21, but Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics holds the best ERA at 2.65. These two will headline the Cy Young chase, and the winner will most likely be decided based on their respective playoff performances.
The same award races are quite different in the National League. The MVP award could go to a number of players. Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks is the NL leader in HRs with 36 and RBIs with 125. Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals is another contender, leading the league in runs scored with 126, and total hits with 199. Michael Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies leads the league in batting average with .331, and Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds is top 10 in several batting categories. However, none of these players are on playoff teams except Carpenter.
For the NL Cy Young award, there is less competition. Clayton Kershaw, pitcher for playoff-bound Los Angeles Dodgers, leads the league in ERA, strikeouts, and is top 10 in wins. It would be a surprise if someone else besides Kershaw took home the NL Cy Young award.
Finally, the best part of the season is here and fans can’t wait for the outcomes. Who will take home the end-of-season awards? Who will win the coveted title of MLB World Series champion?