The MLB Playoffs are rapidly approaching and with it we must take notice of three teams that have a legitimate shot at winning it all even though at the beginning of the year no one thought they really would.
The Oakland Athletics are as hot as anyone in baseball right now; winning 21 of their last 29 games, controlling the top wild card spot in the American League and quickly gaining ground on the AL West leading Texas Rangers (just three games back). No one knows exactly how the A’s are doing it with a cast of characters that not many other teams wanted.
They are getting production up and down the lineup with eight players that have notched double digits in the homerun category including Josh Reddick who leads the team with 28 and they are also getting solid starts out of their rotation (three 10 game winners including Tommy Milone who leads the club with 12). Unless this is the typical A’s club who makes a strong run in August and September, as we’ve seen before in Oakland, look out for these guys in October they could make a run at their first title since the days of the brothers bash.
All season long, the Washington Nationals have been surprising everyone, except myself (I had them reaching the postseason via the Wild Card) and are now poised to end the year with best record in baseball even without the services of their ace Stephen Strasburg for the duration. The Nats have the arguably the deepest lineup in the majors with Ryan Zimmerman, surprisingly Adam LaRoche and the rookie sensation Bryce Harper leading the way.
Its not just the runs scored that has the Nats looking for their first world title in franchise history alone, the quality work that they are receiving from their patching staff is nothing short of amazing. Gio Gonzalez is currently leading the majors in victories with 19 and he is getting plenty of assistance behind him with the superb play of Jordan Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson. Once Washington gets to the post season the sky is the limit for this team who many didn’t think would finish the year with a winning record.
The Nationals aren’t the only team around the Capital Beltway that have a shot at winning it all this October. The Baltimore Orioles have shocked many this season and with their 81st victory of the season which came on Thursday have secured their first non-losing season since 1997. Along with a 19-9 record in their last 28 games they currently sit in a first place tie with the New York Yankees in the American League East but also just one game behind the Athletics for the top AL Wild Card spot.
They aren’t doing it with pitching because they have just one double-digit game winner on their roster, Wei-Yin Chen (12-9), they are doing it with timely hitting and knowing not to quit in close game situations. They have four players who have hit at least 21 homeruns (Adam Jones 29, Chris Davis 25, Mark Reynolds 21 and J.J. Hardy 21) and a manager (Buck Showalter) who knows how to motivate players into believing that they are never out of any game. Even with Nick Markakis out of the lineup due to a broken thumb, the O’s still believe they have a shot to win it all and trust me they do.