With the newness and goofiness that is the new (as of last season) Wild Card format in baseball, the importance of winning your division has never been bigger. Theoretically, the team with the second best record in baseball could find themselves in a one game playoff in order to even join the postseason tournament, instead of having guaranteed themselves a seat with the old one-team Wild Card format. Of course, the addition of the second Wild Card is far better than nothing if your team wins the second spot, but the situation is much worse for the “first place” Wild Card holder.
Two weeks ago, I broke down the remainder of the Indians schedule and came to the conclusion that the Tribe has a fairly easy road ahead of them. Even after re-crunching the numbers after another dozen or so games have passed, the schedule still looks very favorable for the Cleveland squad. In the breakdown, I outlined some objectives that the Indians should aim for and I came to the conclusion that 92 wins is a realistic goal. At the time, the Tigers were not playing extremely well and I figured that 92 wins could be enough to win the division. Taking a deeper look into the Tigers schedule, however, shows that their path toward October is nearly as easy as the Indians.
As of the All-Star break, the Cleveland Indians sit with a record of 51-44, in second place, 1.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central Division lead. According to the math department over at ESPN.com, the Indians have a 38.5% chance of making the playoffs this season. To me, this number is embarrassingly low as the Indians are through the toughest portion of their schedule and have come out of the first half better than almost anyone could have anticipated. Things are also about to get much easier.
As it stands now, the Indians are on pace to win 87 games…a number that is right in the ballpark of where most people originally thought that they would be. What isn’t taken into consideration, however, is the relatively easy schedule that the Tribe will face on their march towards October. The Indians have 21 series’ left that will encompass 67 games and 13 different opponents. Nearly all of the series are winnable for various reasons.
By Matt Van Wormer
The Detroit Tigers were the only team that stood between the Indians and the playoffs in 2011 and had a few things gone differently, it would have been the Tribe representing the Central Division in October. After falling just short of the World Series, I was able to hook up with John Parent of MotorCityBengals.com, a blog dedicated to the Tigers. John is not just the lead writer on the blog but he is also the Detroit Chapter President of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance so we’ve got high expectations for John’s answers! Let’s get to them now!
Five Questions for the Detroit Tigers