Something occurred to me as I was thinking about the many different possible playoff scenarios that could happen once the regular season ends. The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees are tied, nine games apiece, in their season series against one another and there’s a chance they could both finish with the same record – still tied atop the American League East.
There is a whole slew of possibilities, and utter awkwardness with the schedule, that could happen if the Orioles don’t win the division outright, or at the very least secure a wild-card spot outright. If there is a tie, then all hell may very well break loose.
Let’s try to keep things as simple as possible, though, because determining the division winner if both teams are tied at the end of the regular season has a process.
1. Head-to-head winning percentage during the 2012 regular season.
2. Higher winning percentage in intradivision games.
3. Higher winning percentage in the last half of intraleague games.
4. Higher winning percentage in the last half plus one intraleague game, provided that such additional game was not between the two tied clubs. Continue to go back one intraleague game at a time until the tie has been broken.
It’s number two that we should really be focusing our attention to because as it stands right now, the Orioles have a better record (35-24) in their own division then the Yankees (31-28). If the season ended today, then the Orioles would be the AL East division winner and the Yankees would have to make-do with a wild-card berth and the play-in game that comes with it.
Another thing that is in the Orioles favor is how they have performed overall against the remaining teams on their schedule. They may have tough games ahead with the Oakland Athletics in Oakland and close out the season with a three game set with the Tampa Bay Rays, but this team has a 34-19 (.642 winning percentage) record against those remaining teams.
Baltimore’s final 19 games has nine games being played on the road and 10 games at home, which is also no big deal for them because they are 39-30 (.565) when playing on the road this year – best winning percentage on the road in the entire American League. There are actually just four teams in all of baseball with a better win percentage on the road than the Orioles, and all of them are in the National League.
The Yankees on the other hand have a combined record of 27-25 (.519) against the teams remaining on their schedule, even though they technically have the easier schedule to play, and just seven of their final 19 games are on the road. Normally you would think that wouldn’t be a big deal for the Yankees but being just 40-34 (.540) on the road this season, coupled with the poor record against their remaining schedule could spell collapse (again).
The season isn’t over by any stretch and the AL East is still up for grabs, but it’s beginning to look as if the Orioles aren’t going to let up and the Yankees are beginning to look tired and old – not a good combination when you are trying to win your division and make it to the World Series.