Silver Linings For Non-Playoff Teams In The A.L.
We’re steamrolling into the last month of MLB regular season, and we’re staring at some pretty exciting races for playoff spots.
Both the AL & NL Central are really tight, and both Wild Card races should be a blast. In the National League only three teams are further than 7.0 games back from a playoff spot, so it September is going to be a really exciting month.
However, for some teams, the playoff hunt has already ended (and has been over for a while). While it might be a bit easier for the players to finish out, as they’re professionals and paid handsomely to do so, it’s a little tougher for fans to fire up MLB TV to watch their favorite team meander like a wounded animal towards game 162. Here are the things to watch & silver linings for a few non contenders in the American League.
All stats as of 8/18, via Baseball Reference
Baltimore Orioles (39-85) – Race for the #1 Pick
Twice in recent memory has a team held back-to-back #1 overall picks in the MLB draft.
In ’09-’10, the Nationals were presented with the easiest decisions of all-time, as two generational prospects (Stephen Strasburg & Bryce Harper) were their gifts for repeated failure.
The Astros also held the top slot in ’12 & ’13, and for the most part came out alright. Carlos Correa was drafted, and not only did he turn into an All-Star shortstop, he also allowed the club to save enough money to go over-slot for Lance McCullers Jr. later in the draft. Mark Appel, 2013’s #1 pick, will likely never pitch in the majors, but the Astros were able to package him in a deal to acquire Ken Giles.
The O’s are just two games “back” of Detroit to have the chance to pair someone with this year’s #1 overall selection, Adley Rutschman, so root for a bad September, O’s fans.
Detroit Tigers (37-84) – Miguel Cabrera (‘s last days???)
Listen, Miguel Cabrera, first-ballot Hall of Famer and owner of the prettiest right-handed swing in baseball for over a decade, stinks now, and has so for the last three years. Age & injuries are undefeated, folks.
Cabrera is signed through 2023, which is pretty unfortunate for the people who handle accounting with the Tigers, as it puts them in a really tough spot with how to handle their declining legend.
For Tigers fans in September, yeah it’s not ideal to watch one of your heroes waste away, I get it. But he’s 36, and could be at the end of his rope. Tune into a few games, the swing is still pretty (just seems to be devoid of power completely). Remember what it was like to watch him suit up in the good days, and tip your cap to a guy who brought you years of joy.
Toronto Blue Jays (52-75) – Young Hitters Galore
The Jays might be the most fun horrible team to watch right now, borderline MLB TV must-watch status.
Vlad Jr. & Bo Bichette might be the best young prospect combo of bats on the same team in the last decade at least. Vlad didn’t burst on the scene as an instant Triple Crown winner like some thought, but has gotten his OPS above .800 post-All Star Break (extact opposite of a Home Run Derby Slump).
Bo Bichette, on the contrary, has taken to the big leagues by putting up video game numbers from the get-go. He’s slashing .349/.400/.675 with 17 extra base hits in 19 games! If his electric bat-speed wasn’t enough to drag you to the TV, he’s also got incredible flow.
This September the Jays are going with exclusively a youth movement, with guys like Danny Jansen, Cavan Biggio, and Rowdy Tellez all getting September action. 2019 might not have gone to plan, but at least this September Jays fans will get a solid preview of things to come.
Chicago White Sox (55-67) – Lucas Giolito
The White Sox may not be able to see first place with binoculars, but they do get to watch Lucas Giolito pitch every five days, and in 2019 that’s been awesome. A standout September could give him an outside shot at an AL Cy Young Award.
He’s 4th among A.L. starting pitchers in WAR, and top-10 in ERA, WHIP, and wins (if you’re into that sort of stat). A lot hasn’t gone right for the Sox, but trotting out a legit ace (whose breakout you’d been hoping for each year) is a great reason to tune in.
By Kyle Bandujo