The 2012 Major League Baseball postseason got underway Friday as the new Wild Card round made its debut. Both 2nd Wild Card winners rose to the occasion, as the defending champion Cardinals defeated the Braves in Atlanta among some umpire controversy and the Orioles took care of business in Texas against the 2-time defending AL Champion Rangers. The second chapter of the postseason gets underway Saturday evening as the Oakland Athletics head into Detroit to take on the Tigers, while the San Francisco Giants host the Cincinnati Reds. All eight remaining teams will be in action Sunday, as the Cardinals continue the quest to defend their title against the Washington Nationals, who boasted the best record in baseball. Meanwhile the Yankees will take on division rival Baltimore in a playoff series for the first time since 1997.
As September arrives so does pennant race baseball. With just over one month to play, 15 of the 30 major league clubs are within 2.5 games of a playoff spot. We are setting up for a September to remember prior to the upcoming glory of October baseball.
2012 MLB Power Rankings – September Pennant Chase Edition:
Looking like a lock for playoff baseball:
1.) Washington Nationals – (80-52) During the course of the 2012 season the Nats have been among baseballs best and most consistent squads. The lineup is loaded with very good players and the pitching staff has more depth than the average fan realizes. The big question remains: Can they win a title if they shutdown Stephen Strasburg? I still wouldn’t count them out.
2.) Cincinnati Reds – (81-53) Talk about a team with very few weaknesses. The Reds remain the only team in baseball that has kept their rotation in tact. A solid rotation, along with a potentially lethal bullpen in October could spell trouble for opponents as the season moves along. The funny thing is I’m just mentioning the offense which the Reds are best known for. A healthy Joey Votto will only add to the dynamic lineup that includes solid veterans and upcoming rookies.
3.) Texas Rangers – (78-54) The solid core from the past two American League Championships remain in Hamilton, Cruz, Andrus, Young Kinsler and Beltre. The questions this year will be whether or not the pitching staff can provide enough. The bullpen looks sharp but season ending injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz could potentially spell trouble.
The 2012 MLB trading deadline is only a little over one week away. As the regular season heads towards it final two months the time has come for teams to determine if they are going to buy, sell or stand pat.
What is the best way to determine what team are in a good position for a postseason run and what teams should look towards 2013?
Your answer is:
coolstandings.com provides an updated percentage chances of reaching the postseason for each team in the majors. Click here to read about how it works.
C – A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox (.286 avg, 16 hrs, 49 rbis)
The backstop for the squad has had a solid year on the South Side. Pierzynski has the most home runs and runs batted in of any catcher in the game this season. He also calls great games for a very good pitching staff.
1B- Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals (.252 avg, 15 hrs, 53 rbi’s)
After bouncing around the last few years, LaRoche has found a home in D.C. He is tied for fourth in rbi’s and 3rd in home runs at his position and has played a very good defensive first base. His offensive production is part of the reason the Nationals will be leading the NL East at the break.
We’re just over a month into the major league season and there are already plenty of story-lines unfolding. We should be in for fun-filled summer followed by an exciting September. Things can change quickly as a season progresses, these are my thoughts on the 2012 season keeping in mind its early May.
American League East:
Orioles – Pitching has been sensational, specifically the bullpen. Matt Wieters has been a force both offensively and behind the plate calling games. Chris Davis is having a nice bounce back year offensively, winning games after pitching the 16th & 17th innings is a bonus.
Rays – The franchise continues to excel despite a low-budget and limited fan support. Andrew Friedman is among the leagues best GM’s as he pieces together veteran pickups around excellent young talent.
The Sports with Balls Blog has been live for approximately eight months. As we push towards out 400th post I figured I’d take a few moments to highlight some of our most successful articles.
Editors’ Note: I went to the game Saturday so I didn’t get to chance to recap the game
Roy Oswalt was outstanding, throwing eight shut out innings and striking out nine, picking up the win over the Washington Nationals 5-0 on Saturday. One of the best things to see was Oswalt reaching 94 on his fastball several times and constantly reaching 91-93 on the gun. Wilson Valdez starting the scoring with a two run triple in the fourth inning. Hunter Pence would add a solo home run and Jimmy Rollins added a RBI single. Six of the Phillies’ nine hits came from the 5th-8th spot in the batting order. 44,658 was the attendance which was the biggest crowd in Nationals Park history. No, there was no rain delay. Yes, the Nationals did give away Ian Desmond bobble heads.
For the second time in three games, the Phillies and Nationals sat through a rain delay. Before the rain delay, the Nationals got the scoring started off of Roy Halladay in the first inning. A Ryan Zimmerman sac fly and Danny Espinosa RBI single made it 2-0 Nats. Carlos Ruiz would quickly tie it up in the next half inning with a two run home run. Chase Utley hit his first home run in 75 at bats with a solo home run in the third inning. In the bottom of that inning, Jimmy Rollins pulled his right groin. He will go for an MRI on Monday. The rain came in the top of the sixth inning. Both starting pitchers, Roy Halladay and Chein-Ming Wang left after the delay. Phillies’ reliever Michael Schwimer made his major league debut in the bottom of the sixth inning. Of course, Danny Espinosa greeted him with a solo home run to tie the game. In the ninth inning of a tie game, Michael Martinez gave the Phillies the lead again with a one out RBI single. Antonio Bastardo tried to pick up ninth save of the season. With the Nationals down to their final out, Ian Desmond tied the game again on a solo home run. It was Bastardo’s first blown save of the season. After the Phillies went scoreless in the 10th inning, Brad Lidge came in to try and keep the Nats off the board. Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a double. Michael Morse was intentionally walked and then Jayson Werth singled to left. Danny Espinosa struck out and Lidge was a third of the way out of the jam. Unfortunately, Lidge hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch forcing in Zimmerman and thus ending the game.
Notes from both games:
-The traffic on 95 getting to the game was ridiculous.
- During the game, a praying mantis was in our section, I couldn’t stop staring at it.
-The Phillies clinched at least a .500 record on August 20th
-Really sucks Halladay couldn’t go back out because of the rain.
-I’m not going to get mad about Bastardo, dude has been lights out.
- Schwimer was really good after giving up the home run. He struck out four in three innings.
-I can’t trust Lidge at all.
-The Natinals, I mean Nationals have Chien-Ming Wang jerseys on display in the team store.