This Dodgers’ first division title since the Manny Ramirez-led 2009 edition, and if the season ended today the lead of 10 1/2 games would be the largest margin since they won by 13 ½ games in 1955. Dodgers Playoff Tickets are on sale now and if the playoffs opened now, the Dodgers (88-65) would face St. Louis (89-64) in the first round, with the Cardinals having the home-field advantage. The Braves (90-62) own the NL’s best record. A look forward to the possibilities of who the Dodgers top five American League Opponents might be in the World Series.
5. Oakland Athletics: The A’s have used their traditional formula to once again make a strong postseason run, good pitching and timely hitting. The A’s roster is devoid of superstars but comprised of a young and talented pitching staff and fundamentally sound position players. Due to their penchant for getting on base the A’s are 7th in all of Major League Baseball in runs scored, even though their batting average is in the lower third of baseball. The A’s pitching staff is in the top ten across the board in all key statistical areas, including runs allowed, earned run average and opponents batting average.
4. Baltimore Orioles: The Baltimore Orioles are likely out of the race in the AL East, but are in five-way battle for the two wild card positions in the American League. The Orioles have an up and down pitching staff, but one of the top lineups in the American League with sluggers Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Manny Machado. Davis, the Orioles slugging first baseman, has 48 home runs and 128 RBI’s on the season, with a .300 average. His all field power in the middle of the lineup is formidable and can change the game in an instant. Davis is joined by Adam Jones, another elite hitter with home run power. Jones is a top defensive center-fielder and offensively has hit 30 home runs and driven in 100 runs. The third part of the Orioles big three, Machado, is one of the top young hitters in baseball with a league leading 47 doubles on the season.
3. Texas Rangers: The Texas Rangers have made multiple deep postseason runs of late and are a battle tested group with solid starting pitching and professional hitters. The Rangers starting rotation is anchored by Japanese import Yu Darvish, who has as dominant stuff as any pitcher in baseball. Darvish leads the American League with 240 strike outs to go along with a 2.91 ERA. The Rangers have a solid bullpen, lead by veteran closer Joe Nathan. Offensively former Dodgers Adrian Beltre leads the Rangers in nearly every offensive category.
2. Boston Red Sox: The Dodgers had a hard fought series with the Red Sox last month at home, losing two of three to the AL East leaders. After a tough year last season the Red Sox have roared back to take command in the AL East. The Red Sox have the second best run differential in all of baseball and are first in all of Major League Baseball in runs scored. Veteran stars David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury help pace the offense.
1. Detroit Tigers: The Detroit Tigers have the best hitter in baseball in Miguel Cabrera, and one of the top starting pitching units in the game. The Tigers have the top run differential in all of baseball. Cabrera, the defending AL MVP and Triple Crown Winner leads the American League in batting average (.356) and runs batted in (133). Along with Prince Fielder, Cabrera forms perhaps the most feared middle of the order combination in the game. The Tigers pitching staff is lead by Max Scherzer, the leading American League Cy Young candidate. Scherzer is 19-2 on the season. Last year’s Cy Young winner Justin Verlander has had a down season by his standards but is the dominant pitcher in the game when in top form. Anibal Sanchez, with 12 wins and a 2.68 ERA gives the Tigers a 1-2-3 starting pitching combination that rivals the Dodgers rotation.