By Caleb Bailey, Sports Editor
The MLB is over the halfway-hump of the 2015 season and the playoff race is beginning to heat up. With so many young teams stepping up this season, it’s been pretty nice to see a change at the top of the league from seasons’ past.
The playoffs are less than two months away, so it’s always fun to look back at the season that has been, and speculate about the future. What has happened? Where do we go now?
This season in the National League, things have been fairly cut-and-dry. All three division races are still somewhat close, with the largest lead being five games in the NL East. Though, looking at the Wildcard race, things are much different.
You have the Pittsburgh Pirates who, after making the playoffs the last two seasons, are looking to make a little more noise in October this go-around. They currently hold the top spot in the race with a three-game lead over the surprisingly good Chicago Cubs.
The closest team behind the second spot in the Wildcard is the San Francisco Giants. The defending World Series Champions are five games back of the Cubs right now, but are only a game and a half back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West Division race. I think it’s pretty safe to say that whoever loses that division won’t be making the playoffs at all this year.
Looking past the top three in the Wildcard race, you have the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the hapless Washington Nationals who are nine and 9.5 games back of the Cubs respectively. The race is still far from over, though if you ask any baseball fan, the NL Wildcard race is over.
The American League division crown and Wildcard races are both a pretty big difference this year as well. The top team in the AL East, the New York Yankees, only lead the division by a half game now over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are both creeping into the race being only six and 6.5 games back.
The other two division races might as well already be done. The Kansas City Royals, who advanced to the World Series in 2014 for the first time in nearly thirty years, lead the AL Central by 12.5 games. The Houston Astros, who have been notoriously bad for the last eight seasons lead in-state rivals, Texas Rangers, by four games in the AL West. While that race is still much closer than it seems, the Astros have played their best baseball since after the All-Star break.
The Wildcard race is currently quite different from the division races in the American League. The Blue Jays are leading the race by four games, so it’s apparent that whoever doesn’t win the AL East is going to be a Wildcard team.
However, that’s where things get messy. The Rangers, who stand at 64-59, currently lead the Los Angeles Angels by one game for the second spot in the Wildcard, while six other teams are within 6.5 games of the second spot. I know they say these things can be pretty unpredictable, but this is kind of ridiculous.
I don’t know who will be part of the five teams that make the playoffs from each league in the MLB, but I do know that if the Giants make their way in, it will be a bad day for the rest of the teams.