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Friday, December 2, 2011

NL Playoff Picture

With only a quarter of the season left, the playoff picture is coming into focus. As of today, the NL playoffs would look like this:

1. Memphis - NL South Champ and overall #1 seed
2. Chicago - NL East Champ and overall #2 seed
3. Helena - NL West Champ and overall #3 seed
4. Detroit - NL North Champ and overall #4 seed
5. New York - Wild Card #1 and #5 seed
6. Los Angeles - Wild Card #2 and #6 seed

The top two seeds will most likely be Memphis and Chicago, with Helena having a chance at a first round bye if they get hot. Memphis is the only division leader that has a commanding lead. New York can slip in to a #1 or #2 seed if they can catch Chicago, with the runner-up likely locked in to the #1 Wild Card spot. Only 11 games are between first and last in the West, with LA the only real threat to Helena's title run.

So, the two best races are for the #2 Wild Card and the NL North championship.


NL North Analysis

The Standings
1. Detroit (61-64)
2. Cleveland (60-65)
3. Kansas City (57-68)

The Contenders

Detroit
mtorab has 1 divsion title and 1 world series win in his 21 seasons in 1530 Homer. His Tigers were the off-season champs and looked primed for a run at a World Series title. A mid-season trade of Benji Neill likely ended those dreams, but a division title is still within grasp. MVP favorite (and a very tired) Cristobal Mantalban leads the offense while Gustavo Melo is the best of the SP's. They will need better production out of Benji Pulido if they are to make any noise in the playoffs.

Cleveland
davidlove has dominated the North, winning 9 out of 16 division championships. A trade of 8x all-star Louis Spence signaled a rebuilding effort, but the offensive efforts of Quinn Portugal and the pitching of Ken Howington have kept them just 1 game out of the division lead.

Kansas City
So the two teams that KC is chasing have both dealt their stars mid-season. Does anyone want to win this division? Enter mwelker and his, until now, perennial doormat Crusaders. mwelker has his detracters (that will happen with 5 consecutive seasons of losing 100 games or more), but he has a plan and has shown improvement in 3 consecutive seasons. He looks primed to take over for davidlove at the top of the North. The Crusaders are led by the offense of David Wanatabe and the pitching of, well, nobody. His entire staff in underperforming, and will need to step it up if mwelker has any chance of reeling in Cleveland and Detroit.

Remaining Schedule
Detroit - 11 games vs teams w/ winning record. 3 vs KC, 3 vs CLE
Cleveland - 13 games vs teams w/ winning record. 3 vs DET, 3 vs KC
Kansas City - 18 games vs teams w/ winning record. 3 vs DET, 3 vs CLE

Prediction
It's hard to pick teams that have both traded away their best player. But KC has shown no momentum and has the most difficult remaining schedule. I'll take the experience of davidlove and Cleveland, but only because DET's Mantalban is wearing down.

Wild Card #2 Analysis

The Standings

1. Los Angeles (66-59)
2. Louisville (66-59)
3. Houston (64-61)

The Contenders

Los Angeles
Is the tytabs era over? He has won 6 of the last 8 division titles, but is having his worst year in 10 seasons and trails by 4 games in his division. The Hollywoods are led by silky smooth mustachioed Rube Swann and newly re-signed Orval Gonzales. Luis Morales is the key to LA holding off the challengers.

Louisville
batgecko is finally seeing his work pay off after 5 disappointing seasons. Will the WIS gods ever stop punishing him with injuries? Welington Chavez leads a potent offense while Julio Lopez is the most productive on a very good staff. The expected returns of Antonio Graves and Jeff Woods will bolster their chances.

Houston
pmuehlenkamp has.......nevermind, look it up for yourself. If you care enough to be reading this you know that he is the most successful owner in 1530 (all due respect, nhollan). The Hangovers are led by the smooth sounds of The Goose and the pitching of future HOF'r Dave Darr. Geraldo Mendez must pick it up if they are to keep from missing the playoffs for the 2nd time in franchise history.

Remaining Schedules
Los Angeles - 14 games vs teams w/ winning record, 4 vs Houston
Louisville - 14 games vs teams w/ winning record, 4 vs Houston
Houston - 16 games vs teams w/ winning record, 4 vs LA, 4 vs LOU

Prediction
LA and HOU are seasoned vets with beefy resumes, and the newcomer from the Lou will be boosted by the return of some solid players off of the DL. LA appears to be the most rested of the three and Houston has the most difficult remaining schedule. My bet is LA, but I wouldn't be surprised if LOU sneaks in.

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