1. The Pirates… winners?
For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to end the season with a winning record. After falling out of first place in the NL Central the Pirates are all but locked in to the NL Wild Card spot with NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen leading the way.
Breaking the longest losing streak in American professional sports is certainly cause for celebration in Pittsburgh, but this team has its eyes set on playing deep in to October.
2. The Triple Crown race
At this point it doesn’t look like Miguel Cabrera will be able to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown Performance but he’s still having a fantastic season. Batting .349 with 49 home runs and 133 RBI’s, Cabrera is actually having a better season than last year.
That being said, he hasn’t recorded an extra base hit in over two weeks and now trails Chris Davis by six home runs. The Tigers would be wise to wrap up the division while keeping Miggy healthy for a long postseason run.
3. Jason Heyward’s return
Even though the Braves have the best record in baseball (87-57) their batting has been weak this year, owning only the 18th best bating average in baseball and they currently have two players hitting below .200.
Jason Heyward was playing much of the year hurt, but on Aug. 31 after being in the jaw with a fastball suffered his scariest injury of the year. Somehow after only being out three weeks, Heyward is scheduled to take batting practice with the Braves on Friday.
After some time in the developmental leagues, the Braves are hopeful that Heyward can rejoin them for the October postseason push. No one can be sure what kind of impact he’ll have after returning but the Braves will need his bat atop the lineup if they hope to challenge for the World Series this year.
4. N.L. Central Playoff push
The closest playoff race has the St. Louis Cardinals up only one game to the Pirates and 2.5 games to the Cincinnati Reds.
The interesting thing is that the Pirates and Reds are 1-2 in the Wild Card standings, with the Washington Nationals 6.5 games behind. The N.L. Central is probably going to have three teams make the playoffs, but two of those teams will have to fight it out in a one-game playoff to advance.
The Reds and Pirates end the season with six games in the last two weeks of the schedule, while the Cardinals have the easier route, playing all non-playoff teams.
5. A.L. Wild Card
If you thought the NL Central was crazy, just wait until you look at the Wild Card in the other league. With only two wild card slots available, six teams are within 2.5 games of the last spot. Texas and Tampa Bay would be in if the season ended today, but Baltimore, Cleveland, New York and Kansas City are all making runs at the last spot.
With their seasons all but over in the middle of the year, the Yankees and Royals have rallied back, New York using newly acquired Alfonso Soriano’s 11 home runs in August to make up ground on the Rays while the Royals have relied on the pitching of James Shields throughout the year to get them through tough games.