The season has finally reached an end, all 30 teams have played 162 games, and a lucky 8 of them get to play at least 3 more in baseball’s preseason.
This month, some teams made playoff runs, others were just getting ready for previously secured or soon to be secured spots, while one other team became the Mets/Tigers of 2010. Meanwhile, the rest of the league were getting preparations set for 2011, for better or worse.
Records are final, at the end of the season (October 3rd)
SLR = team’s record Since Last Rankings | Prev = Previous Ranking (April/May/June/July/August)
1) Philadelphia Phillies (97-65 | 23-7 SLR | Prev: 5/12/14/12/7)
The Phillies had a hot pitching trio in Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels in September – and Halladay had the weakest September of the three! – en route to having far and away the best September in the league and the best overall record in the league. The Phillies look prime for another World Series run.
2) Tampa Bay Rays (97-65 | 16-14 SLR | Prev: 1/1/7/2/2)
With Cy Young candidate David Price leading the way, the Rays are in their second ever postseason. While they have home field advantage for the first two rounds of the postseason, Tampa also has the league’s best road record, and Texas will definately have a tough task defeating this team in the ALDS.
3) Minnesota Twins (94-68 | 18-12 SLR | Prev: 4/2/12/8/5)
The first team to clinch a playoff spot, the Twins limped in their final week (and still only had 12 losses for the month!). What’s more, Justin Morneau will not be available for them in the ALDS against the one team that has been their postseason bane, the…
4) New York Yankees (95-67 | 13-17 SLR | Prev: 3/3/1/1/1)
…Yankees, who as I mentioned last month, seem to play better without Alex Rodriguez in their lineup. Coupled with rotation problems outside of the 21-win CC Sabathia, and the Yankees may the most troubled team in the AL side of the playoff field.
5) San Francisco Giants (92-70 | 19-10 SLR | Prev: 7/14/17/5/9)
Thanks to the Padres completely falling apart, the Giants were able to steal the division right from their hands, and their troubles playing directly against the Padres is no longer an issue for the playoffs. Their starting trio of Lincecum, Cain and Zito is as fearsome as any other, though the same may not be said of their offense.
6) Atlanta Braves (91-71 | 14-16 SLR | Prev: 19/6/5/7/4)
The Braves got blown away by the surging Phillies in the division and barely won one game against those same Phillies just to barely clinch a Wild Card spot. Congrats to Bobby Cox for making the playoffs one last time in his grand managerial career, and while the Braves will have a good chance at besting the Giants, they better hope the Phillies go down in the NLDS.
7) Cincinnati Reds (91-71 | 14-16 SLR | Prev: 18/7/8/10/3)
The Reds were in cruise control this month following St. Louis’ August collapse. They’ve got perhaps the biggest pop out of anyone in the NL, except maybe the Phillies. Coincedentally, their first round matchup is against the Phillies. For a team that struggled against winning competition all season, the Reds chances aren’t looking too good.
8) Texas Rangers (90-72 | 16-14 SLR | Prev: 10/15/2/4/8)
With Josh Hamilton back in the lineup, Texas looks to reach playoff horizons never seen by the franchise in all its history. That frontier is heavily guarded by a very strong Rays team, but Texas has the hitting to compete with them. Pitching, not so much; Texas will need to get into slugging contests with the Rays to stand a chance.
9) Boston Red Sox (89-73 | 15-15 SLR | Prev: 23/9/3/11/10)
One wonders how well this team would have fared if it had stayed healthy all season. However, they’ve gotten a good look at a lot of their young players and they’ll be going into 2011 healthy and with a lot of depth. They’ll bounce back.
10) Chicago White Sox (88-74 | 16-14 SLR | Prev: 27/22/15/6/11)
Despite missing out on the playoffs and the Manny Ramirez trade not doing anything at all, the White Sox do have some positives to look at. For one, Chris Sale looks to be Chicago’s closer of the future. With Peavy hopefully back healthy next season, the White Sox will be prepared for another division run. Well, if they can improve that hit-or-miss offense, that is.
11) San Diego Padres (90-72 | 14-17 SLR | Prev: 6/4/4/3/6)
That six game losing streak mentioned last month turned into a ten game losing streak, and the Padres were never really able to recover. With practically no offense, all they had to keep the division lead was their pitching, and the likes of Garland and Latos were not able to keep it together down the stretch. With the organization having a no-spend mindset going into this season, will this temporary success mean any drastic improvements?
12) St. Louis Cardinals (86-76 | 17-15 SLR | Prev: 2/10/10/9/14)
Outside of Pujols and Holliday, the Cardinals had little offense when they really needed it. They did finish the season strong, however, and as is usually the case for St. Louis they’ll be back in the fold next season.
13) Toronto Blue Jays (85-77 | 16-14 SLR | Prev: 12/5/18/14/13)
While nobody really will know if Jose Bautista’s 54 home runs is a fluke until next season, Jays fans should be more interested in their young pitching staff, which made some excellent strides this season while the offense led the league in Home Runs and slugging. They should be a fun team to watch again next season.
14) Colorado Rockies (83-79 | 14-17 SLR | Prev: 15/13/16/14/12)
On the shoulders of the blazing hot Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies made their playoff push in early September before the Giants cooled them off for good. They did find that spark eventually, but it was too little too late.
15) Detroit Tigers (81-81 | 16-14 SLR | Prev: 8/16/13/19/18)
Their home (52-29) and away (29-52) records pretty much tell the tale of this Tigers season, as do the injuries to key players Magglio Ordonez and Joel Zumaya. Things for the Tigers to look into for the offseason would be another arm in the rotation and maybe a catcher that can actually bat.
16) Oakland Athletics (81-81 | 16-15 SLR | Prev: 16/11/19/17/17)
Oakland silently finishes 2nd in the AL West, not that it means anything. The Atheletics are a team that like to run on the basepaths, but don’t have a lot of power. Adding some should help Oakland a lot next season.
17) Los Angeles Angels (80-82 | 16-13 SLR | Prev: 17/20/11/20/21)
Dan Haren was excellent for the Angels down the stretch. A trade that was more for 2011 than 2010, Haren will be a major key in reclaiming the AL West for the Angels next season, as will having a healthy Kendry Morales again.
18) Florida Marlins (80-82 | 14-17 SLR | Prev: 11/18/20/15/16)
Injuries wrecked Florida’s chances of finished above .500 for the season, especially to Josh Johnson who was having a spectacular season for awhile. They probably can’t wait to get out of formerly Dolphins stadium, though, and play in a ballpark that won’t feel so… empty.
19) Los Angeles Dodgers (80-82 | 12-17 SLR | Prev: 20/8/9/16/15)
Joe Torre’s final season as Dodgers manager was not a successful one compared to previous seasons. With the Dodger ownership in complete flux, its hard to tell if the Dodgers will be able to improve at all next season under new skip Don Mattingly.
20) New York Mets (79-83 | 14-16 SLR | Prev: 9/17/6/18/19)
Jerry Manuel is out as Mets manager and Omar Minaya is out as Mets GM. Its officially the beginning of a new era of Met baseball, or at least it will be once their replacements are named. Mets fans may be pleased by these developments but they should be cautious: the Mets could still get a lot worse under the wrong hands.
21) Milwaukee Brewers (77-85 | 15-15 SLR | Prev: 24/23/21/21/22)
Ken Macha is likely out. Their chances of retaining Prince Fielder are not very high. They are heading in the wrong direction, but the question is: can they do anything to stop it? At this rate, the answer doesn’t seem very promising.
22) Chicago Cubs (75-87 | 19-10 SLR | Prev: 14/21/22/22/26)
The Cubs actually played rather well following Lou Pinella’s departure. Their pitching was a big reason for this though they still had a few, rather huge, hiccups here and there in September. Still, how many years is it now? 102?
23) Houston Astros (76-86 | 15-15 SLR | Prev: 30/29/26/24/20)
After showing consistent improvement month after month, the Astros slipped a little in September. Still, the Astros have some bright spots to look forward to next season, notably their young hitters in Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn.
24) Cleveland Indians (69-93 | 16-14 SLR | Prev: 25/28/28/25/28)
Boy, if the Indians’ schedule consisted of 162 home games against the Tigers, they’d be alright. Fausto Carmona is Cleveland’s best pitcher; they’ll need to build around him to get back on the right track (and hopefully not trade him away for prospects like they have nearly everyone else).
25) Baltimore Orioles (66-96 | 17-13 SLR | Prev: 28/30/30/30/27)
Buck Showalter, if nothing else, have taught this team how to compete day in and day out. He’ll probably a very similar squad next season so we’ll see how well Baltimore can compete over six months instead of just two.
26) Washington Nationals (69-93 | 12-17 SLR | Prev: 13/29/24/23/23)
When Strasburg went down, so did Washington’s 2010 season, and likely their 2011 season as well. 2012 is looking pretty good, but what can the Nationals do until then to fill seats? Will they do anything or are they already looking past next season already?
27) Kansas City Royals (67-95 | 11-19 SLR | Prev: 26/24/23/26/25)
Here’s something. Zach Greinke and Bruce Chen finished the season with the same ERA (4.17). Chen also finished with 12 wins to Greinke’s 10. Of course neither statistic truly tells the tale for a pitcher but if the Royals don’t find a way to improve for real, Greinke may just rot in KC or go elsewhere.
28) Arizona Diamondbacks (65-97 | 11-18 SLR | Prev: 22/27/27/27/24)
Last month, Arizona hit a ton. This month, Arizona whiffed a ton. They ended up leading the league in striking out, having more than 100 than second place Florida. Even fixing just this lack of plate discipline would go a long way in fixing this offense. Pitching is another story.
29) Seattle Mariners (61-101 | 9-21 SLR | Prev: 21/26/25/28/29)
Felix Hernandez has all the stats that qualify for a Cy Young title, except for the usually overblown win statistic. This was a concern for Greinke last season and he had 16; Felix has only 13. They may as well give it to him if only to give some consolation to the AL’s only 100-loss team. Other than him and Ichiro this team has nothing.
30) Pittsburgh Pirates (57-105 | 13-17 SLR | Prev: 29/25/29/29/30)
I don’t have much to say about the worst major North American franchise over the past 18 seasons. Worst offense in the NL (and only Seattle’s was worse in the AL), and the worst pitching in the majors. What’s worse is that there’s no signs Pirates management will even TRY to make this better. Oh well, at least the Steelers are 3-1 and the Penguins are about to start up another Cup run, right?