Sep 26, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
The Tigers have clinched a spot in the Division Series, but the AL Wild Card chase couldn’t be much closer, with the Rays, Rangers, and Indians all locked in a dogfight. On the flip side, recently eliminated teams like the Yankees and Nationals are left to ponder their offseason moves in an attempt to get back to October.
Here’s how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out.
1. Boston Red Sox (96-63; LW: 1) – Roney: The Red Sox don’t want Jonny Gomes to stop punting his batting helmet — it usually signifies a walk-off homer. They’ve definitely asked him to stop punting full beer cans, though.
2. Oakland A’s (94-65; LW: 4) – Zuckerman: Threat of raw sewage in the visiting clubhouse? Talk about home-field advantage for the playoffs!
3. St. Louis Cardinals (94-65; LW: 5) – Hughes: They have the highest scoring lineup in the N.L. and arguably its deepest rotation. Who wants to play them in the playoffs?
4. Detroit Tigers (93-66; LW: 3) – Hughes: Anibal Sanchez, a longtime nemesis of the Nats, is enjoying the best season of his eight-year career: 14-8, 2.64 ERA, 194 SO, 177 IP.
5. Atlanta Braves (93-65; LW: 2) – Roney: Not that I support Carlos Gomez, but if anyone has ever been deserving of a “U mad, bro?”, it’s Brian McCann.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-67; LW: 6) – Zuckerman: Did they peak too soon? Perhaps, but it’s still tough to pick against these guys in October.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68; LW: 8) – Hughes: I like their chances in October a lot better now that Jason Grilli is finding his groove.
8. Cincinnati Reds (90-69; LW: 7) – Hughes: Cincinnati just lost two of three to the Mets and close the season with the Pirates. That could be a recipe for backing into the playoffs.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (89-69; LW: 10) – Roney: Somewhat obscured in the wild card chase is the fact that 2008 No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham finally made his debut for the Rays. He made it to the Show, but that’s one pick they’d like to have back — imagine Buster Posey in that lineup.
10. Cleveland Indians (88-70; LW: 11) – Hughes: The AL Wild Card race is in a crazy race to the finish as both Cleveland and Tampa Bay have won six straight.
11. Texas Rangers (87-71; LW: 12) – Zuckerman: They keep taking steps backward, and this one may cost Ron Washington his job.
12. Washington Nationals (84-75; LW: 9) – Roney: This season was a disappointment, but there’s no reason they can’t build on this late momentum and contend for the NL East next year. Offseason question: Do they shop for an arm, or let Roark take a spot in the rotation?
13. Kansas City Royals (83-75; LW: 14) – Hughes: Kansas City is in the middle of their best season in ten years, but it won’t be enough for the playoffs. Watch out for them next year.
14. Baltimore Orioles (82-76; LW: 13) – Roney: The Manny Machado news isn’t as bad as initially feared, which is great news for Baltimore, and great news for the game. Kid is beyond special.
15. New York Yankees (82-76; LW: 15) – Roney: It’s not a shame that the Yanks were eliminated from playoff contention for just the second time since the ’94 strike, but it is odd that Mo Rivera won’t get to walk into an October game ever again.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-78; LW: 16) – Zuckerman: Probably for the best Nats didn’t make playoffs, lest there be another fight over use of the Chase Field pool.
17. Los Angeles Angels (78-80; LW: 17) – Zuckerman: Best MLB record since late-August? The Angels. Like the Nats, it was too little, too late.
18. San Diego Padres (74-84; LW: 18) – Zuckerman: Ranked 11th in NL in ERA this season. Maybe they should’ve moved Petco fences back, not forward.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (72-86; LW: 20) – Roney: Is Toronto a bigger disappointment than the Nats? They were a sexy preseason pick for A.L. East champ and wound up dead last.
20. Philadelphia Phillies (72-86; LW: 19) – Roney: Domonic Brown hit just four home runs in the second half — so I guess the questions about him haven’t been answered after all.
21. New York Mets (73-85; LW: 23) – Roney: This may be premature, but I hope David Wright sticks around to get the same kind of sendoff that the Rockies gave Todd Helton. Some guys just belong in the same shirt for their whole careers, and Wright definitely qualifies.
22. San Francisco Giants (73-85; LW: 21) – Zuckerman: As disappointing a year for a defending World Series champ as there’s been in a while.
23. Colorado Rockies (72-87; LW: 22) – Zuckerman: Congrats to Todd Helton on a fantastic career. Gonna make a fascinating test case for Cooperstown in 5 years.
24. Milwaukee Brewers (71-87; LW: 25) – Hughes: Milwaukee took two of three against the Braves, and made Brian McCann really, really mad in the process.
25. Seattle Mariners (70-89; LW: 24) – Zuckerman: Four straight losing seasons for a franchise that seems to be stuck in neutral.
26. Minnesota Twins (66-92; LW: 26) – Hughes: This is the third straight season Minnesota won’t hit the 70-win mark. They better hope Byron Buxton is as advertised.
27. Chicago Cubs (66-93; LW: 27) – Hughes: Edwin Jackson in 2013: 8-17, 4.74 ERA; Dan Haren in 2013: 9-14, 4.87 ERA. At least one’s on a one year deal.
28. Chicago White Sox (62-96; LW: 28) – Hughes: Chicago is so terrible this season that Chris Sale (11-13) has a losing record.
29. Miami Marlins (59-100; LW: 29) – Roney: Has there been a more misguided recent trade than the deal that shipped third baseman Matt Dominguez from the Fish to the Astros last summer? He’d slot in nicely on this Miami team.
30. Houston Astros (51-108; LW: 30) – Zuckerman: Bo Porter plans to re-watch all 162 games at season’s end. Wouldn’t a 162-hour marathon viewing of “Honey Boo Boo” be less torture?
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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