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The Residence Stretch: Previewing the MLB Division Races

6 min read

51 days. There are 51 calendar days left in a season that has seen beautiful upsets, surprising reversals of fortune, highly effective shows of greatness, and people etching their names within the annals of the game. To this point, the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals have faltered as favorites whereas the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds have emerged as shock contenders. From now till October, six division titles will likely be determined, six wild card spots will likely be awarded, and baseball will likely be able to crown its subsequent World Champion.

American League East

The story of the American League East begins with the upward-trending Baltimore Orioles. They confirmed huge enchancment in 2022 and have managed to exceed all expectations in 2023 to search out themselves atop the division. The Orioles at present lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 3 video games. If each groups proceed to carry out properly down the stretch, then their four-game collection starting Thursday, September 14, in Baltimore’s Camden Yards will likely be must-see TV, seemingly deciding the division winner.

The Toronto Blue Jays at present sit 7 video games again of the division chief. Whereas they’ve a really slight likelihood to win the division, they seem extra prone to be destined for a Wild Card berth. They at present maintain the final Wild Card spot by 1.5 video games over Seattle. The New York Yankees and Boston Crimson Sox boast data over .500 however sit double-digit video games again within the division and might want to leapfrog Seattle and Toronto for the Wild Card.

Oddsmakers have deemed the AL East a two-horse race from this level ahead, with the Baltimore Orioles the favourite at -150 and Tampa Bay shut behind at +160. Toronto is sitting a distant third at +1100.

Can Baltimore’s unimaginable prospect pipeline full their ascension from the darkish days of the rebuild, or will the Rays return to their historic early-season kind and seize management of the East?

American League Central

At current, the Minnesota Twins have developed a commanding lead within the Central. The Twins discover themselves 5 video games above .500 with a 3.5-game lead over the Cleveland Guardians. Ought to the Guardians all of the sudden get scorching, they’re inside placing distance of Minnesota; nevertheless, they’re greater than 8 video games again of the ultimate Wild Card spot. Whereas the chances are definitely stacked in opposition to Terry Francona and Co., they’re graced with 6 remaining video games in opposition to Minnesota, three at house and three on the highway.

Odds in Vegas appear to mirror the relative probability of a Minnesota championship within the Central because the Twins at present sit at -700 and the Guardians are at +600.

This division is the worst within the league. The winner will seemingly not make any noise within the postseason, however a division crown and home-field benefit within the Wild Card collection may assist them get scorching on the proper time.

American League West

The 2023 AL West goes deep into the guts of Texas, because the title seemingly comes all the way down to the Astros or Rangers. The Rangers are perched atop the division’s standings, three video games away from the defending World Champion Astros. The retooled Rangers have been considered one of baseball’s finest tales in veteran skipper Bruce Bochy’s first yr in Arlington. After buying pitcher Max Scherzer and others on the deadline, the Rangers determine to be a power for the remainder of the season. 2.5 video games again, nevertheless, are Dusty Baker’s Houston Astros. The Astros lately re-acquired Justin Verlander to bolster their pitching workers for the arms race that’s the AL West. Ought to the Astros fail to run down the Rangers, they seem fairly protected within the Wild Card race and will return to the postseason.

The Seattle Mariners are 5.5 video games again of the Rangers however, like Toronto, would wish every part to interrupt their approach to reel within the leaders. Nonetheless, the Mariners solely path the Blue Jays by 1.5 video games for the final Wild Card spot and look like enjoying their finest baseball in August.

Vegas has the Rangers at -125 to take the West with Houston at +130. The Mariners are at present +1100 to win the West. Nonetheless, they’re +160 to qualify for the postseason.

The Rangers may lastly see their free-spending methods of the previous two offseasons repay. Nonetheless, heading off the Astros, who’ve virtually lived in October since 2017, will likely be no simple activity.

Nationwide League East

The race for the NL East crown is seemingly over. The Atlanta Braves have circled the sector, at present lead Philadelphia by 9.5 video games, and present no indicators of stopping. Whereas Atlanta has all however sewn up the division, each Miami and Philadelphia register probabilities to make the postseason. The Phillies at present lead the NL Wild Card standings, 4 video games to the great. The Miami Marlins discover themselves within the remaining Wild Card spot, a half sport up on Cincinnati and Chicago.

Vegas has all however awarded the East to Atlanta as they’re at present -20,000 to win the division. The Phillies seem prone to play postseason ball at -750, whereas the Marlins are +160 to play for a championship.

This Braves crew appears to be like like the most effective in latest reminiscence. Their dying grip on the division lead takes away the thrill of a division chase. Nonetheless, between the Phillies in search of to duplicate their magical run to an NL pennant final season and the Marlins inching nearer to the tip of their rebuild, this division nonetheless provides loads of fascinating storylines.

Nationwide League Central

One of many extra entertaining divisional races this yr has come within the Nationwide League Central. The Cardinals have largely disenchanted this yr. Rather than St.Louis, the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds have traded blows all yr lengthy and stay locked in a titanic battle for the Central crown. At the moment, the Brewers are 2.5 video games away from Cincinnati and Chicago. The Cubs and Reds are a half sport out of the ultimate Wild Card spot. On the commerce deadline, Cincinnati appeared poised to run away from their Central rivals. Nonetheless the entrance workplace selected to face pat, and the Reds have dropped 8 of their final 10 ballgames and are actually on the skin trying in. The Brewers have remained rock strong all through and determine to be resilient down the stretch. The Cubs, in the meantime, have gotten scorching these days and have recorded wins in 6 of their final 10.

Sportsbooks at present mirror the shut nature of the highest of this division. The Brewers are the favorites at -105, and the Cubs at +200 and the Reds at +340.

The surprising Cardinals breakdown has left the door open for a brand new prime canine. The Brewers have the latest October expertise, however the Reds’ star rookies would possibly proceed to set the world on fireplace en path to stealing the division crown. And so long as Justin Steele stays a superhuman on the mound, the Cubs stay a reliable risk.

Nationwide League West

The NL West has seen its fair proportion of turmoil this season. The Arizona Diamondbacks shot out to a shocking early lead and the extremely regarded San Diego Padres stumbled out of the gate. Over time, issues within the division seem to have stabilized, because the closely favored Los Angeles Dodgers have now reclaimed first place and are 6.5 video games forward of the second-place San Francisco Giants. The Giants sit 5 video games away from the Diamondbacks for second place and are protected by 2.5 video games within the Wild Card race.

Sportsbooks have adjusted odds to point the Dodgers are protected within the division at -1,200. The Giants seem prone to play in October, as they’re -295 to make the postseason.

The Dodgers’ dominance over the division appears poised to proceed this yr even if many counted them out just some months in the past. A late surge by the Giants may make issues attention-grabbing, nevertheless. Regardless of their postseason odds trying slim, will probably be attention-grabbing to see how Arizona finishes the season in makes an attempt to start establishing a profitable tradition.


,Justin Verlander 2018” by way of ,Keith Allison licensed underneath ,CC BY-SA 2.0

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