In the National League teams are still jockeying for home field advantage with only one Wild Card playoff spot to be decided. The Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals have all won their divisions; however the team with the best record and home field throughout the playoffs has not yet been decided. Cincinnati and Washington are tied at 96-63 and San Francisco is three games behind with three games to play.
The Atlanta Braves have secured one NL Wild Card spot, but the other one is still up for grabs. With three games to play the St. Louis Cardinals lead the Los Angeles Dodgers by two games. If the Cardinals go 1-2 and the Dodgers go 3-0, there will be a one game playoff to decide the Wild Card winner; which ironically gives that team the privilege of having another one game playoff to see who advances to the NLCS. St. Louis closes out their regular season at home with a three game series against the NL Central champion Reds and LA closes out their regular season at home with a three game set against the NL West champion Giants. If the Cardinals get swept and the Dodgers sweep, LA wins the Wild Card spot. If the Cardinals win two games, the spot is theirs regardless of want LA does.
In the American league things are still completely up in the air. The Texas Rangers currently have the best record in the AL giving them home field throughout the playoffs, but with three games left to play and only leading the Oakland A’s by two, it’s still possible that Oakland can win the AL West and or Oakland, the Baltimore Orioles or New York Yankees can still wind up with the best record in the league. The Orioles and Yankees are tied atop the AL East at 92-67 and while both teams are guaranteed at least an AL Wild Card spot, the division is still very much on the line with neither wanting to settle for the Wild Card; which would only get them a one game playoff determining if they continue on or go home.
Texas and Oakland play each other the last three games of the season in Oakland. The A’s need a three game sweep to win the division (and a chance at home field throughout as well.) The Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa. The Rays also have an outside shot at winning a Wild Card spot if they sweep Baltimore and the A’s get swept at home. The Yankees play the Red Sox in the Bronx (you think the Sox don’t want to ruin the Yanks chances of winning the division?). With three games left to pay, even the Los Angeles Angels are mathematically still alive as they can grab a Wild Card spot by winning out and getting lots of help.
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So after 159-games played with just three games left to go and still a countless number of combinations and permutations of possible playoff outcomes, the 2012 MLB playoff picture is still very much undecided. Stay tuned, and as always, expect the unexpected…
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