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HomeSportsMLB's top 10 September storylines: Historic home run chases, Mariners and Phillies...

MLB’s top 10 September storylines: Historic home run chases, Mariners and Phillies aim to end droughts, more

September has arrived. It looks like Opening Day was simply two weeks in the past, at the least to me it does, however the season’s ultimate month is right here and there’s nonetheless a lot of the 2022 baseball story to be instructed. Division titles and wild-card spots — all six of them — stay up for grabs and the awards debates are starting in earnest. Loads might be determined in these subsequent 5 weeks.

These could be the postseason brackets if the common season ended right this moment, which after all it doesn’t:

American League
Astros and Yankees
WC1: Blue Jays at Guardians
WC2: Mariners at Rays

Nationwide League
Dodgers and Mets
WC1: Padres at Cardinals
WC2: Phillies at Braves

What does the ultimate month of the 2022 MLB common season have in retailer? Plenty of great things, together with multiple milestone chase. Listed here are the highest 10 storylines heading into September.

1. Pujols chasing 700 residence runs

One of many biggest to ever do it’s approaching one of many baseball’s most hallowed milestones. Due to current binge that has seen him go deep eight occasions in his final 19 video games, Cardinals legend and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols has a chance to become the fourth player in the 700 home run club. Here is the all-time residence run leaderboard:

  1. Barry Bonds: 762
  2. Hank Aaron: 755
  3. Babe Ruth: 714
  4. Alex Rodriguez: 696
  5. Albert Pujols: 694 and counting

Pujols would nearly actually have 700 homers already if not for the shortened pandemic season in 2020. Alas. Including intrigue to the 700-homer chase is the actual fact Pujols, who turns 43 in January, is planning to retire after the season. He said so when he re-signed with St. Louis in spring training and he reiterated it two weeks in the past. From USA Today:

“I am nonetheless going to retire, irrespective of whether or not I find yourself hitting 693, 696, 700, no matter,” Pujols stated. “I do not get caught up in numbers. For those who have been going to inform me 22 years in the past that I’d be this shut, I’d have instructed you that you just’re freakin’ loopy. My profession has been wonderful.”  

“No, I’ve had sufficient,” he stated. “I am glad I made the announcement this was it after I signed. Actually, I would not change a factor.”  

Pujols stays a lefty masher and the Cardinals have platooned him closely in current weeks. However, with the NL Central lead as much as six video games and a positive (on paper) September schedule, would the Cardinals begin giving him extra enjoying time towards righties to maximise his at-bats and thus his probabilities at 700 homers? followers will need to see it. So long as the division race is not a lot of a race, I say do it. Consider the ticket gross sales, Cardinals!

Both manner, milestone or no milestone, we’re in for a wonderful residence run chase in September. Pujols wants six residence runs within the group’s ultimate 31 video games. It’s inside attain.

2. Decide chasing 61 homers

Pujols just isn’t the one participant chasing a historic residence run milestone. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is on pace to become only the sixth player in history to hit 60 home runs in a season (it has been carried out eight occasions), and likewise problem Roger Maris’ AL report of 61 homers. Listed here are the eight 60-homer seasons in baseball historical past:

  1. Barry Bonds, 2001 Giants: 73
  2. Mark McGwire, 1998 Cardinals: 70
  3. Sammy Sosa, 1998 Cubs: 66
  4. Mark McGwire, 1999 Cardinals: 65
  5. Sammy Sosa, 2001 Cubs: 64
  6. Sammy Sosa, 1999 Cubs: 63
  7. Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  8. Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60

Decide swatted his 51st residence run Tuesday night time and he enters Thursday with 51 residence runs in 131 group video games. That places him on tempo to hit 63 homers in 2022. He wants 11 homers in New York’s ultimate 31 video games to interrupt Maris’ report, which appears very doable, however he’s beginning to get the Bonds remedy. Decide has walked 29 occasions in his final 29 video games as a result of groups more and more refuse to pitch to him. Cannot say I blame them.

For those who’re romantic about baseball, there’s some great symmetry to this chase: Maris hit 61 homers 61 years in the past in 1961 whereas carrying No. 9. Decide after all wears No. 99. And Decide is doing this can be a contract yr too. He rejected a seven-year extension in spring training and is about to check the market in just a few weeks. I am undecided it is attainable to have a greater free agent yr. So, because of Pujols and Decide, we have now two historic residence run chases to take pleasure in within the season’s finale month.

3. Goldschmidt chasing a Triple Crown

There’s an terrible lot of historical past on the road in September. Pujols chasing 700 residence runs and Decide making a run on the AL’s single-season homer report are the headliners. Paul Goldschmidt is to not be neglected although. The Cardinals first baseman has a shot to win the National League’s first Triple Crown since Hall of Famer Joe Medwick with the 1937 Cardinals.

There have solely been 16 Triple Crowns in AL and NL historical past and every of the final six have been American Leaguers: Miguel Cabrera (2012 Tigers), Carl Yastrzemski (1967 Red Sox), Frank Robinson (1966 Orioles), Mickey Mantle (1956 Yankees), and Ted Williams (1942 and 1947 Crimson Sox). Here is the place Goldschmidt sits within the Triple Crown classes getting into Thursday:

Christian Yelich got here near a Triple Crown in his 2018 NL MVP season — he received the batting title however was two quick in homers and one quick in RBI — so it hasn’t been that lengthy because the final time an NL participant made a run on the milestone. That does not take away from what Goldschmidt is doing although. He is having a historic season and has an opportunity to do one thing that hasn’t been carried out in additional than 80 years.

“Hear, if one thing like that occurred it could be a miracle,” Goldschmidt told MLB.com about potentially winning the Triple Crown. “To suppose that is life like might be fairly far-fetched. Like I stated, if one thing like that did occur, it could be fairly wonderful, however to suppose that is a purpose for anybody, that is a loopy normal.”

4. Can the Dodgers win 110 video games?

The Dodgers are so good it is obnoxious. The enter Thursday with a 90-39 report general, and a 45-11 report of their final 56 video games. Los Angeles has baseball’s finest report by seven video games and so they’re at present on tempo to win 113 video games. Listed here are the six groups in MLB historical past to win 110 video games in a season:

  1. 1906 Cubs: 116-36 (.763)
  2. 2011 Mariners: 116-46 (.716)
  3. 1998 Yankees: 114-48 (.704)
  4. 1954 Cleveland: 111-43-2 (.721)
  5. 1927 Yankees: 110-55-1 (.724)
  6. 1909 Pirates: 110-42-2 (.673)

The 2021 Giants and 2019 Astros every received 107 video games and got here near becoming a member of the checklist. The Crimson Sox received 108 video games in 2018. The Dodgers, throughout what we’ll name the Andrew Friedman period (since 2015), topped out at 106 wins in 2019 and 2021. They should win 20 of their ultimate 33 video games to succeed in 110 wins, and 27 of their ultimate 33 video games to set a brand new single-season wins report.

Two issues may work towards the Dodgers as they pursue 110 wins. Firstly: accidents. Tony Gonsolin (forearm pressure) not too long ago joined Clayton Kershaw (again) and Walker Buehler (Tommy John surgical procedure surgical procedure) on the injured checklist, though Kershaw will be activated Thursday. And second: their 18 1/2-game division lead and seven-game lead for the most effective report in baseball. The Dodgers might take their foot off the gasoline in September, and relaxation gamers with an eye fixed on being well-positioned for October. Even then, 110 wins is inside attain, and that does not occur usually.

5. Can the Yankees halt their collapse?

The Yankees went 10-18 (.357) in August, their worst month since going 9-19 (.321) in Sept. 1991. Their season report topped out at 61-23 (.726) on July 8, which is a 118-win tempo. Since then New York is 18-29 (.383), one of many six worst information in baseball throughout that point. The Yankees went from dominating the game to being a bottom-feeder seemingly in a single day.

The AL East lead, which stood at 15 1/2 video games on July 8 and 12 video games on Aug. 1, is all the way down to solely six video games. And, coincidentally sufficient, the Yankees play three video games this weekend towards the Rays, the division’s second-place group. Ought to issues go sideways these subsequent few days, New York’s division lead may very well be all the way down to solely three video games come Monday morning.

The biggest blown division lead in baseball historical past is 13 video games by the 1951 Dodgers. The 1978 Yankees famously erased a 14-game result in win the AL East, although New York was in fourth place on the time. The Crimson Sox by no means led the division by greater than 10 video games that yr. So, 13 video games is the blown division lead report. The Yankees, if they do not proper ship in September, will shatter it.

Extremely, the Yankees have tumbled down the standings like this even whereas Decide is having not simply an MVP-caliber season, however a doubtlessly historic season with reference to residence run output. The Yankees have regularly slipped from the most effective group in baseball to a .500 membership to having their worst month in three many years. A historic collapse is immediately in play.

6. The NL East race

The 2022 NL East is creating 2021 NL West vibes. You could have two powerhouse groups — the Mets and Braves have two of the 5 finest information within the sport — and New York’s division lead, which was as massive as 10 1/2 video games at one level, was not too long ago all the way down to 1 1/2 video games. The Mets enter September with a three-game division lead.

Sadly the NL East race will contain numerous scoreboard watching. The Mets and Braves have only one head-to-head collection remaining: Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at Citi Subject. That’s the second-to-last collection of the common season and it may supply a number of intrigue. In any other case these golf equipment must comply with the division race on the scoreboard every night time. Listed here are their remaining opponents’ successful percentages:

  • Braves: .470 (76-win tempo per 162 video games)
  • Mets: .420 (68-win tempo per 162 video games)

Neither the Braves nor Mets are in peril of lacking the postseason, although it’s doubtless the NL East winner will safe a Wild Card Sequence bye, forcing the division runner-up to play an additional postseason spherical. That is a slightly enormous drawback. The defending World Sequence champs have been in juggernaut mode since June 1 (57-24 of their final 81 video games). They aren’t to be taken flippantly.

7. The AL Central race

In contrast to the NL East, the AL Central could be very a lot a “win the division or miss the postseason” situation. It is not a lock the division runner-up will miss the postseason, however the playing cards are stacked towards them within the wild-card race. At one level the Twins have been 5 1/2 video games up within the AL Central. Now they enter September 1 1/2 video games behind the Guardians.

The enjoyable factor in regards to the AL Central race is the Guardians and Twins will see numerous one another in September. They’ve eight head-to-head video games remaining, together with a doubleheader. They will play one another eight occasions in an 11-day span from Sept. 9-19. That is the great things proper there. Cleveland ending itts season with six — six! — straight video games towards the Royals may very well be the distinction within the division race, although any group can beat some other group on any day on this sport.

We should point out the White Sox right here, although they’ve misplaced 10 of their final 13 video games and are sliding proper on out of the AL Central race. They enter September 5 video games behind Cleveland. Chicago nonetheless has 9 video games remaining with the Twins and three with the Guardians, so the White Sox usually are not out of it but, although they dug themselves fairly a gap in September.

8. Mariners and Phillies attempting to finish their droughts

The Mariners haven’t been to the postseason since Ichiro’s rookie yr in 2001. The Phillies haven’t been to the postseason since Roy Halladay’s final Corridor of Fame-caliber season in 2011. These are the 2 longest postseason droughts in baseball and, if the season ended right this moment, the droughts could be over. Each golf equipment would make the postseason.

The season doesn’t finish right this moment although, and Seattle and Philadelphia nonetheless have work to do to finish their droughts. The AL wild-card race is slightly tight, with 5 groups separated by 5 video games for the three wild-card spots. As a result of the Braves have such an awesome report, the NL wild-card race quantities to 3 groups separated by three video games for the final two wild-card spots.

As a result of they entered September in postseason place and since they have been within the race all yr, the Mariners and Phillies are in “not making the postseason could be a significant letdown” territory. Particularly for Seattle, I feel, as a result of the membership’s drought is twice as lengthy and the group is sweet and enjoyable. The Mariners and Phillies are each in a great place proper now, however there’s work to be carried out.

(And, by the way in which, if the Mariners and Phillies do make the postseason, the longest postseason drought would then belong to the Angels and Tigers. They final certified for the postseason in 2014.)

9. The wild-card races

MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a 12-team postseason format this yr, giving us three wild-card spots and a brand new best-of-three Wild Card Sequence spherical. The additional postseason spots didn’t create a frenzy on the commerce deadline (the Orioles traded veteran gamers away regardless of being within the wild-card hunt), however they exist, and so they add intrigue to the season’s ultimate month.

Listed here are the AL wild-card standings heading into September:

  1. Rays: 72-57 (+2 GB)
  2. Mariners: 72-58 (+1 1/2 GB)
  3. Blue Jays: 70-59
  4. Orioles: 68-61 (2 GB)
  5. Twins: 67-62 (3 GB)
  6. White Sox: 64-66 (6 1/2 GB)

The Twins and Orioles are simply attempting to get in, although in Minnesota’s case, it may be simpler to win the AL Central than safe a wild-card berth simply because they’ve so many head-to-head video games remaining with the first-place Guardians. Nonetheless, they’re within the wild-card race and may make like tough for the opposite 4 golf equipment.

Whereas merely moving into the postseason is the highest precedence, seeding does matter. The highest wild-card group — the non-division winner with the most effective report — will host the complete Wild Card Sequence. Additionally, is it higher to be the AL’s second wild-card group or third wild-card group? You must play the complete Wild Card Sequence on the street both manner, although one seed may current a extra favorable matchup.

Utilizing the present standings, the second wild-card group (Mariners) would go on the street to play the primary wild-card group (Rays), whereas the third wild-card group (Blue Jays) goes on the street to play the AL Central winner (Guardians). Would you slightly play the Guardians or the Rays in a best-of-three collection? I feel the case will be made you’d slightly play the Guardians (i.e. be the third wild-card group). Then once more, it is a best-of-three collection. Something can occur.

Now listed below are the NL wild-card standings as we enter September:

  1. Braves: 80-51 (+7 1/2 GB)
  2. Phillies: 73-58 (+1/2 GB)
  3. Padres: 73-59
  4. Brewers: 69-60 (2 1/2 GB)
  5. Diamondbacks: 61-67 (10 GB)

Barring a collapse, the primary wild-card spot will go to the NL East runner-up. Both the Braves like it’s now, or the Mets as a result of the Braves cross them and win the division. The race is for the ultimate two spots and it’s tight. Milwaukee has fallen far sufficient behind the Cardinals the NL Central (six video games) {that a} wild-card berth is extra attainable than a division title.

The Padres went solely 16-13 in August regardless of including Juan Soto & Co., and they’re 32-35 of their final 67 video games. With final yr’s beautiful late season collapse nonetheless recent in everybody’s reminiscence, I think about that membership is feeling just a little strain getting into September. Possession and the entrance workplace have gone all-in on this group and the time must be now for San Diego.

Much like the AL, would you slightly be the NL second wild-card and face the NL East runner-up in a best-of-three collection, or be the third wild-card group and face the NL Central winner? I am fairly positive I would slightly be the third wild-card group and take my probabilities with the Cardinals (or Brewers) than need to undergo the Mets or Braves. Nonetheless, the precedence is simply getting in, particularly for the Phillies and Padres. These two golf equipment are beneath a substantial amount of strain to play in October. 

10. Prospect debuts

The brand new September roster growth guidelines have taken a chew out of late season prospect watching (groups used to have the ability to activate their total 40-man roster in September, now they solely get one additional pitcher and one additional place participant) however we’ll nonetheless see a number of extremely regarded children make their MLB debuts this month. Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll and Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson, the consensus high two prospects in baseball, have been known as up earlier this week. Athletics lefty Ken Waldichuk and Astros righty Hunter Brown, two different top-100 prospects, are anticipated to be activated Thursday. Many extra will get their toes moist within the coming weeks, and for followers of groups out of the race, getting a have a look at the long run in September is about pretty much as good because it will get.

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