And the AL West Champion is....... the Oakland Athletics. Who would have thought that the A's would make the playoffs let alone win the division when the team was 13 games back from the Texas Rangers going in to the month of July. The A's kept swinging away and runs started to get on the scoreboard and the runners left on base started decreasing. Next thing you know the A's are stepping on the gas and never letting off. Since the all star break, Oakland is 51 and 25 and won the last six games of the season to win the AL West. That being said, what will it take for the Oakland A's to be beaten?
1. Put the ball in play: The A's are one of the worst defensive teams in the MLB with 111 errors. Best bet is to keep it away from the right side of the field because Josh Reddick has thrown out 15 runners and in the infield Jemile Weeks gets to almost every ball hit his way. On the left side of the field you have Gomes in the outfield who does not have the best range and 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson will commit an error more than anyone else on the team.
The Chicago Cubs’ 2012 season mercifully ended on Wednesday, leaving Cubs fans to do what they do best: hope for a better showing next year. On the plus side, the team’s late-season performance offered some obvious reasons for optimism, and even the youngsters who arrived with the September roster expansion showed flashes of productivity.
Here are the three most promising performances from the late-season arrivals:
1. Dave Sappelt can hit major league pitching now
He’s no Miguel Cabrera, but Sappelt improved dramatically over his shaky performance with the Reds in last September’s trial run. The pint-sized outfielder—nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” by Dusty Baker while in Cincy—hit .275 and slugged .449 in 26 games in a Cub uniform.
Those numbers added 30 points in batting and 130 in slugging to what he’d shown previously at the Major League level, making Sappelt a legitimate candidate for a reserve outfield spot next season. He’s not going to be a superstar, but every team needs solid utility players of the kind he looks ready to become.
2. Chris Rusin has the mental toughness to be a starter
This award is going to be a very tough decision on who to vote for on the ballot. (Unlike the 2012 Presidential election.)
There are a boatload of guys that you can make a strong case for: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Kyle Lohse and Craig Kimbrel are all thankful that Kris Medlen didn't start enough games to get serious consideration for the award. (In 12 starts with Atlanta he was 9-0 with a ridiculous 0.97 ERA.)
St. Louis Cardinal fans are already nervous because they get to face Medlen in a one-game playoff on Friday.
What a year he had for the Washington Nationals. He led the Majors with 21 wins and proved the Nationals made the right move by trading four of their top prospects for him in the offseason.
Rankings among starting pitchers in the NL
21 wins (1st)
2.89 ERA (6th)
207 K's (T-4th)
1.13 WHIP (8th)
4.6 WAR (4th)
9.4 K's / 9 IP (1st)
2.72 K's / BB's (25th)
.206 opponent batting avg. (1st)
.582 opponent OPS (1st)
199.1 IP (19th)
With the playoff participants set and Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown pretty much secured, we pretty much can put a wrap on the 2012 major-league regular season heading into its final day.
What a kooky, crazy six months or so it’s been.
Boston bombed. Miami imploded. The Phillies, flat out, fell on their faces.
All had been hyped as being well up the game’s hierarchy.
The Orioles came from out of nowhere. So did Oakland. So did the Nationals.
None of them were considered contenders for anything other than being everyday fishermen or hunters or golfers by early October. But, this year, their off-seasons will have to wait.
They all picked up at least a few extra shifts at the ballyard.
Perhaps the saddest tale occurred in Pittsburgh. Having not experienced a winner since Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke were taking postseason anguish to an art form in the early 1990s.
Miguel Cabrera is on the verge of something historic.
Cabrera enters the final weekend of the regular season with a .329 batting average, 44 home runs, and 137 RBI, all of which currently lead the American League. If he maintains these leads, Cabrera would become the first MLB player to win the Triple Crown since 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat during with the Boston Red Sox.
His lead in all three categories is far from safe, however. Mike Trout could pass Cabrera in batting average by going 4-for-4, while four different players are within three of Cabrera’s home run total. His edge in RBI does appear safe, though only a fool would doubt the ability of second-place Josh Hamilton (127 RBI) to have a monster weekend.