MLB Thoughts: Sept. 22

We’re in the final week of the MLB regular season, which means the postseason is on deck. To whet your appetite, I offer you this one man show from Bryan Cranston:

The regular season winding down means the final curtain call on the career of The Captain, Derek Jeter. I’m not a Yankee fan, but you have to admire what Jeter has been able to do in pinstripes. If you were to create a Mt. Rushmore of Yankee greats, the pantheon is as follows:

  1. Ruth
  2. Gehrig
  3. Mantle
  4. Dimaggio

You could make a case for Jeter at 5; it’s probably either him or Berra. Either way, that’s pretty rarefied territory for a modern player. A final postseason berth would’ve been a fitting end, but as it is, Jeter finds himself in a place he’s seldom been before: playing out the string in meaningless September games.

Angels closer Huston Street

Angels closer Huston Street

I didn’t make any preseason predictions this spring, but even if I had, there’s no way I would’ve picked the Angels and O’s to have the best records in the majors in the last week of the season. For years, I’ve expected an Angels resurgence; after regularly participating during the first decade of the century, the Angels haven’t made an October appearance since 2009. It appears they may be poised to make a significant run, thanks in large part to an offense spear-headed by boy wonder (and MVP lock) Mike Trout and a rejuvenated Albert Pujols. The starting rotation is pedestrian, especially after the loss of Garrett Richards, but the back end of the bullpen is lights out with Jason Grilli, Joe Smith, and Huston Street.

If Buck Showalter doesn’t win the AL Manager of the Year Award, they just need to stop giving the thing out. No manager has drawn more out of his club this year and no manager has had to deal with the loss of more players to season-ending injuries. Steve Pearce, Delmon Young, Jonathan Schoop, Caleb Joseph, T.J. McFarland…these are the household names Showalter has relied on to navigate past the losses players like All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, 3B Manny Machado, pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, and 1B Chris Davis. Again, I’m no O’s fan, but it’s nice to see Buck — with his mantra of “playing the game the right way” — have success this season.

The Angels and O’s have the advantage of easing through the next week in preparation for October. It should be interesting watching how these teams approach the postseason because they’re built so similarly. Each squad boasts a solid offense, with Baltimore relying a little more on the longball. Baltimore has committed the second fewest errors in the majors; L.A. the fourth fewest. Neither team has a lock down starter (though Jered Weaver leads the AL in wins at present with 18). Yet both teams have an assortment of riches in the bullpen. In fact, the only team to rival Anaheim arm-for-arm might be Baltimore with Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton.

I’ll write more about the rest of the American League tomorrow; the NL toward the end of the week.

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