- By Ollie Walden
Well, yesterday we looked at the American League divisional races in Major League baseball and how I saw them finishing out this season. Today, we will take a look at the National League divisional races and how I feel they will shake out over the last two months of the season. August, in my mind, is the stretch drive of baseball, where teams begin that one final push right before the end of the season to grab a disional title or wildcard slot and secure their spot in baseballs postseason. I will kick of today's preview with the National League East division.
The National League East Division can be summed up as the Phillies and well, the Phillies. Philadelphia has grabbed a hold of the division lead and expanded it out to an 8 game lead over the second place Atlanta Braves. The Phillies led the Braves by 2 games at the beginning of June. They led the Braves by 4 games at the beginning of July and have pushed it out to 8 games now at the beginning of August. The impressive thing is that Atlanta has been playing well also. The Braves had a .542 winning percentage in June and have pushed that to a .572 winning percentage here in August and while that may be good enough to give them a lead in any of the other two division in this league, it isn't even good enough to make up ground on the Phillies this season. This is why I feel the 8 game lead the Phillies hold in the East may as well be a 16 game lead because they are just playing too darn well for anyone to be able to catch them this season. The Phillies win the National League East division title easily.
The National League Central division race has been there for several teams to grab a hold of and take this season and no one seems to want to do it. As we enter August, Milwaukee is the next team to get a shot to control the divisional lead. Cincinnati had a short lead at the beginning of the season and have fallen 7 games back of the Brew Crew now. St. Louis had a hold of the league for middle section of the season and they have stumbled and are now 4 games back of the Brewers. Pittsburgh has been in the hunt all season, but haven't been able to push through. The Pirates seems to have peaked though and have lost 6 straight now and find themselves quickly falling back below .500 and out of the Central division race. The National League Central will ultimately come down to the Brewers and the Cardinals and I think Milwaukee will be able to hold on and find their way back into the post season for the first time since the 2008 season.
The National League West division seems to be down to just two teams as we enter the final two months of the season. The defending world series champion San Francisco Giants got off to a slow start and by early may they were 15-15 and found themselves 4 games back of the Colorado Rockies in the division race. They have rebounded since then and now hold a 1 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, who like the Giants started off slowly. The Diamondbacks actually started slower then the Giants with a 13-16 start to the season, but Arizona is one of the top three highest scoring teams in the National League and have fought their way back and now are within a game of the Giants as we see the season winding down. I like the Giants and have been waiting for them to grab a firm lead in this division and put some distance between themselves and Arizona, but its been a month and they have failed to do so. I just have a gut feeling that the Diamondbacks are going to pull this one out. I see them over taking the Giants slim division lead by mid to late september and taking the National League West crown this season.
As for the National League Wild Card race has the Atlanta Braves leading by a couple games over the Diamondbacks, who are just a game behind the Giants for the West lead. The Wild Crad race is going to come down to the Braves and whoever comes in second in the West, either the Giants or Diamondbacks. Atlanta has been playing really good baseball and even though Philadelphia has been playing better and they haven't been able to catch them in the East division, they will be able to hold off the Giants or Diamondbacks for the Wild Card and will return to the postseason yet again. So in closing this report, my picks to qualify for the postseason this season are Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Arizona and Atlanta.
I hope everyone enjoys these heated races we are about to watch unfold during the last few months and unlike most of our other major sports, we don't have to hear about lockouts or worry about missing any games. We just get to sit back and enjoy...
Here's an article about 2011 MLB American League Pennant Race Preview.