There aren’t any interesting division races remaining with only a week left to play in the Major League Baseball season; Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia have already clinched their divisions, and Milwaukee, Texas, and Arizona all hold leads of 4.5 games or more. But that’s not to say that there aren’t any races remaining.
The wild card races in each league are under three games (Tampa Bay and Los Angeles of Anaheim both trail Boston by 2.5 games, and St. Louis trails Atlanta by only 1.5). Both Atlanta and Boston appeared to be lead pipe locks for the playoffs just a few weeks ago, but now they’re fighting for their lives.
But the tightest races of all are the battles for home field advantage, and that just so happens to be one that our Tigers are locked in right now. The New York Yankees have all but sewn up the best record in the American league, and Philadelphia has officially clinched it in the NL, but Texas and Detroit and Milwaukee and Arizona are still in a dog fight to claim home field in the first round of the postseason.
Each race is currently one game or less. In the National League, Arizona trails Milwaukee by one game, but the Diamondbacks won the season series so a tie for them is just as good as finishing ahead. But the chase that we all care about is obviously in the American League. Detroit and Texas are both deadlocked with a 90-65 season record. The really good news is that the Tigers beat out the Rangers in the season series by a margin of 6-3.
Should the Tigers end up ahead of, or tied with, the Rangers, they’ll receive home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Games one and two of the American League Division Series would take place in Detroit on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1. Their opponent would either be Boston or Tampa Bay (if one of those two wins the wild card) or the Texas Rangers (if the LA Angels win the wild card).
If the Tigers end up behind the Rangers in the final AL standings, they’d hit the road for the first two games and return to Comerica Park for games three and four (if necessary) of the ALDS which would take place on Monday, October 3 and Tuesday, October 4. In this case, their opponent would be the New York Yankees (if either Boston or Tampa wins the wild card) or the Texas Rangers (if the LA Angels win the wild card). The division series is a best-of-five series, so only three games are guaranteed.
I’m obviously rooting hard for the Tigers to pull ahead of Texas. Not only is home field advantage a boost for the team, but the weekend schedule would make my travel arrangements so much easier as well.