August 23, 2012
On the Beat
Bud Selig's goal when adding a second wild card to each league this season was to get more teams involved in the pennant race. After all, more teams in contention means more interest in more markets, and that means more tickets sold and more revenue generated.
The Commissioner should be happy that more than half of Major League Baseball's 30 teams have at least a 10-percent chance of reaching the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report (going into Wednesday's play). A total of 16 teams had double-digit hopes, and four of them are near locks to play beyond the regular season—the Nationals (100 percent), Yankees (99.7 percent), Rangers (99.6) and Reds (98.9 percent).
Last year's Red Sox and Braves will tell you that the odds can change dramatically, and Yogi Berra will say that it's never over until it's over. However, it's over for those four teams. They can start printing playoff tickets now.
That leaves a dozen teams with at least a somewhat realistic chance of gaining the other six playoff berths. We talked to scouts and front-office types about each of those teams and who they thought was the key player for each heading down the stretch. Here is what they had to say:
Braves (84.5 percent)-2B Dan Uggla: "He's never been a high average guy and he's always struck out a lot, but he's having an awful season. He looks tentative at the point. He is getting caught in between on pitches, and he can't hit off-speed stuff. I think the Braves can get to the postseason without him hitting, but they are going to need him in October."
White Sox (83.5 percent)-RHP Addison Reed: "He's done a good job, but he's still a rookie, and you never how young guys will react when they are in a pennant race for the first time. There was a reason Kenny Williams traded for Brett Myers, and it wasn't just to pitch as a set-up man. He's the safety net in that bullpen."