For baseball teams like my Orioles, who continue to show tiny flashes of inconsistent brilliance, we have entered the dog days of the season. But for the contenders, things are just getting good. In order to keep track of all the jockeying for playoff positioning, I'm going to check in every week for the rest of the season with an update on the hottest division races in baseball. Every Thursday I'll explain who’s streaking, who’s stinking and who’s sitting in the driver’s seat. So who's got the leg up on their division foes right now? Keep reading to find out…
Despite adding Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns, the Yankees are slumping a bit. Right now I give the Tampa Bay Rays the edge here. Not just because they’re playing better, but also because they will play a lot of sub .500 teams as they approach the playoffs. The Red Sox are only six and a half games out, but with Kevin Youkilis back on the DL they may not be able to keep it close enough. The Yankes and Rays are the class of baseball right now.
This division is going to come down to the Twins and the White Sox and I still see Minnesota with the edge. Not only do they play better against their own division, which will come in handy during a September series against Chicago, they have 17 of their final games against AL West opponents. They’re 12-5 against that divison. Chicago on the other hand will have to go through the brutal AL East and still finish strong. Minnesota may not have what it takes against the Rays and Yanks but I think after this series they’re going to be back on the upswing.
The nutty thing about this division is that whoever wins may have another team to thank. The Braves have a slim lead, but they’ll likely be watching TV a lot to see how the Phillies and Mets do against each other in an astonshimg 12 games in the last two months. The Braves have the most home games left and I still feel that this team is special. So for now I give them the edge over the much injured but still dangerous Phillies.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. The Padres have a tough August to get through and have three talented teams close behind them. Seriously, even the fourth place Dodgers have a shot in this division. Thanks to a four-game win streak the Giants are mighty close and a slew of road games might give San Diego a challenge. My call, right now the Giants are playing the best baseball in the NL West, and they will storm into first pretty soon.