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New Wild Card Sets up Wild Weeks

The final two weeks of the MLB season are usually very tense. There are several teams that are in contention, and every pitch is magnified for those ball clubs. However, the new Wild Card setup has created some amazing drama as we reach the home stretch of the 2012 season.

If you are unfamiliar, here is the gist of the new Wild Card setup:

There are two Wild Card teams in each league as opposed to one. These are the teams in each league with the best records but are not leading their division.

Barring any weather or tie-breaker scenarios, those teams will play one game on October 5th to determine who moves on to the ALDS and NLDS.

The Wild Card winning teams will meet the top-seeded team in the league in the Division Series (regardless of division).

The Divisions Series are a 2-3 format with the Wild Card winners hosting the first two games.

The Championship Series and World Series are unchanged.

Here’s a rundown of the insanity that we could witness over the next two weeks:

 

Number of Serious Contenders: 5

Current WC Standings:(as of September 18th)

OAK: +1.5

BAL: -

LAA: 3 GB

TB: 5 GB

DET: 5.5 GB

What to watch for:

1. Running Down the Leaders: Each of the AL division leaders have slight leads over the second place teams (TEX 3 game lead on OAK, CWS 3 game lead on DET, & NYY 0.5 game lead on BAL). We could literally see all three of the current division leading teams miss the playoffs entirely. Crazy!

2. Head-to-head Games: As I alluded to above, there could be some major shifts in playoff team standings. Here are the games that these teams will play against one another.

TEX: 3 @ LAA, 4 vs. OAK, 3 vs. LAA, 3 @ OAK

CWS: 4 vs. TB

NYY: 3 vs. OAK

OAK: 3 @ DET, 3 @ NYY, 4 @ TEX, 3 vs. TEX

BAL: 3 @ TB

LAA: 3 vs. TEX, 3 vs. CWS, 3 @ TEX

TB: 4 @ CWS, 3 vs. BAL

DET: 3 vs. OAK

 

Number of Serious Contenders: 7

Current WC Standings:(as of September 18th)

ATL: +7.5

STL: -

LAD: 1 GB

MIL: 2.5 GB

PIT: 2.5 GB

PHI: 3.5 GB

ARI: 4.5

What to watch for:

1. Race for One Spot: The Braves have a sizable lead, and it looks safe to assume that they will AT LEAST be in the Wild Card game. However, the other six contending teams are all within 3.5 games for the final spot. This will be an insane race for that final spot.

2. Momentum Shifts: With last year’s Cardinals teams as evidence, it is not about the team with the best record going into the playoffs; it’s about the hottest team at that time. The Nationals, Reds, and Giants have had considerable leads for some time now, and they could be susceptible to losing their winning edge by the time postseason play begins. Whichever team snags the second Wild Card spot could ride a wave of momentum for the remainder of the postseason.

The new Wild Card setup will provide baseball fans with an incredibly dramatic final two weeks of the 2012 season. Be sure to watch as all of the races shake out. Also, tweet to @MLBFanCave using the hash tag #PennantRace, and let us know who you think will earn the Wild Card spots in each league.

The final two weeks of the MLB season are usually very tense. There are several teams that are in contention, and every pitch is magnified for those ball clubs. However, the new Wild Card setup has created some amazing drama as we reach the home stretch of the 2012 season.

If you are unfamiliar, here is the gist of the new Wild Card setup:

There are two Wild Card teams in each league as opposed to one. These are the teams in each league with the best records but are not leading their division.

Barring any weather or tie-breaker scenarios, those teams will play one game on October 5th to determine who moves on to the ALDS and NLDS.

The Wild Card winning teams will meet the top-seeded team in the league in the Division Series (regardless of division).

The Divisions Series are a 2-3 format with the Wild Card winners hosting the first two games.

The Championship Series and World Series are unchanged.

Here’s a rundown of the insanity that we could witness over the next two weeks:

 

Number of Serious Contenders: 5

Current WC Standings:(as of September 18th)

OAK: +1.5

BAL: -

LAA: 3 GB

TB: 5 GB

DET: 5.5 GB

What to watch for:

1. Running Down the Leaders: Each of the AL division leaders have slight leads over the second place teams (TEX 3 game lead on OAK, CWS 3 game lead on DET, & NYY 0.5 game lead on BAL). We could literally see all three of the current division leading teams miss the playoffs entirely. Crazy!

2. Head-to-head Games: As I alluded to above, there could be some major shifts in playoff team standings. Here are the games that these teams will play against one another.

TEX: 3 @ LAA, 4 vs. OAK, 3 vs. LAA, 3 @ OAK

CWS: 4 vs. TB

NYY: 3 vs. OAK

OAK: 3 @ DET, 3 @ NYY, 4 @ TEX, 3 vs. TEX

BAL: 3 @ TB

LAA: 3 vs. TEX, 3 vs. CWS, 3 @ TEX

TB: 4 @ CWS, 3 vs. BAL

DET: 3 vs. OAK

 

Number of Serious Contenders: 7

Current WC Standings:(as of September 18th)

ATL: +7.5

STL: -

LAD: 1 GB

MIL: 2.5 GB

PIT: 2.5 GB

PHI: 3.5 GB

ARI: 4.5

What to watch for:

1. Race for One Spot: The Braves have a sizable lead, and it looks safe to assume that they will AT LEAST be in the Wild Card game. However, the other six contending teams are all within 3.5 games for the final spot. This will be an insane race for that final spot.

2. Momentum Shifts: With last year’s Cardinals teams as evidence, it is not about the team with the best record going into the playoffs; it’s about the hottest team at that time. The Nationals, Reds, and Giants have had considerable leads for some time now, and they could be susceptible to losing their winning edge by the time postseason play begins. Whichever team snags the second Wild Card spot could ride a wave of momentum for the remainder of the postseason.

The new Wild Card setup will provide baseball fans with an incredibly dramatic final two weeks of the 2012 season. Be sure to watch as all of the races shake out. Also, tweet to @MLBFanCave using the hash tag #PennantRace, and let us know who you think will earn the Wild Card spots in each league.