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Rangers and Angels offer the best pennant race: Fan’s view
There are many points in a season of baseball that fans look forward to. It begins with spring training when you get to see your team play again and do your own evaluation of prospects and who will or won't make the team. It's then followed by opening day with the tailgating and grand ceremonies. In July you have the All-Star game which is immediately followed by the trade deadline as fans wonder what moves their team will make. But none of those moments compare with the month of September and the pennant races.
As of September 7th the Rangers maintained a slim 3 Ã‚Â½ game lead over the Angels. I realize that the Yankees lead in the AL East over the Red Sox is 2 Ã‚Â½ games but I'm not taking that into account due to the fact that both teams, barring a major collapse, will make the postseason by virtue of the "wild card".
Both the Rangers and Angels have a good chance of winning their division and I believe it will ultimately come down to the season-ending showdown between both teams in Anaheim. I still believe that Texas will win in the end as their offense and bullpen will be enough to counter the Angels' starting rotation.
So how do I see things shaping up? Here are my predictions for baseball's divisions:
Winner: Texas by 2 games over the Angels. The key to this division will be how the Angels play against the Yankees in an upcoming series while Texas appears to have an easier schedule. Texas may not be able to beat Jered Weaver(notes) when it comes to the season-ending finale but their offense is more than capable to handle Dan Haren(notes) and Ervin Santana(notes). Plus Texas should have Nelson Cruz(notes) back in the lineup by then. Texas also features the best bullpen in all of baseball.
Winner: Detroit Tigers by 7 games over the Indians. The Cleveland Indians made some key trade acquisitions acquiring pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) and Jim Thome(notes) but the Tigers, behind Justin Verlander(notes), are currently playing like the best team in the American League. The White Sox are playing good ball as well but I don't see it lasting.
Winner: Boston Red Sox by 3 Ã‚Â½ games over the New York Yankees. This race has flip-flopped several times this season but I think that Boston has the better intangibles which will ultimately give them the division title. However, the Yankees really don't have to worry as they'll get the wild card berth.
Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks by 5 games over the Giants. At the beginning of the season there was no doubt in my mind that the defending world champion San Francisco Giants would reach the postseason again and challenge the Phillies in the NLCS. However, the resurgence of the Diamondbacks combined with the Giants lack of offense (even with the mid-season trade for Carlos Beltran(notes)) quickly changed things. It also appears that the Giants won't even win the wild card.
Winner: Milwaukee Brewers by 10 games over the St. Louis Cardinals. This was another surprise for me as I had picked the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds to be in a dogfight all season long and then things changed. The Reds never really got it together, the Cardinals lost Albert Pujols(notes) for a considerable amount of time and the Brewers front office made some very good moves at the trade deadline picking up pitcher Francisco Rodriguez which solidified their bullpen and they've been running away with the division ever since.
Winner: Philadelphia Phillies by 9 games over the Atlanta Braves. This was a no-brainer at the beginning of the season and it panned out the way it was supposed to. The Braves will still make the playoffs via the wild card which will prevent the Giants from defending their title. The Phillies are on pace to be the only team in baseball with 100 wins or more.
Now as far as who makes it to the World Series? That's an article for another day which I will write once the playoff spots are locked down and I know how the seeding goes. So for now, just sit back and enjoy the races.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of the Texas Rangers and baseball in general. He is also a featured contributor with Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @TXRangersJames .
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