Stretch run: Division leaders and contenders starting to pull ahead in MLB playoff races

08/06/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

The trade deadline has passed and we are in the stretch run of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. In the American League, separation has been created by the division leaders in 2 of the 3 divisions. In the National League, things are a little bit tighter. Let's take a look at where things are at as we start off the month of August.
Starting in the AL East, the New York Yankees have stretched their lead to 5.5 and 6 games over Toronto and Baltimore respectively. Mark Texiera continues to lead the way for the Yankees, with 29 home runs (tied for 5th in AL) and 76 RBI's (3rd most in AL). At age 40, Alex Rodriguez has come on strong for the Yankees as well. A-Rod's 24 HR's are 8th most in the AL, and he's contributed 62 RBI's as well. Brian McCann's 65 RBI's rank in the AL's top 10 as well. Toronto and Baltimore have remained in the hunt due to their bats as well. The Orioles Chris Davis leads the American League with 79 RBI's. The Blue Jays Josh Donaldson is right behind him with 78 RBI's, while teammate Jose Bautista's 71 RBI's tie him for 5th most in the AL. Davis and Donaldson are tied for 6th in the AL with 28 HR's. Bautista and the Orioles Manny Machada rank in the AL top 10 for home runs with 23 each.
In the Central, Kansas City has extended their lead over 2nd place Minnesota to 9.5 games. The Royals have the American League's best record, and the 2nd best record in baseball. The Royals Eric Hosmer (.317) and Lorenzo Cain (.309) both rank in the AL top 10 in batting average. Kendrys Morales is 4th in the AL with 73 RBI's. Pitcher Edinson Volquez ranks in the top 10 in both ERA and wins.

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In the West, Houston leads Anaheim by 2.5 games. The Astros Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh are tied for 1st in the AL with 13 wins each. Keuchel's 2.35 ERA is 3rd lowest in the AL, while teammate Scott Kazmir's 2.10 ERA is the league's lowest. The Angels big bats have kept them in the hunt. Mike Trout leads the majors with 32 home runs and Albert Pujols is right behind him with 30. Trout and Pujols are also in the AL top 10 in RBI's, with 68 and 66 respectively.
In the Wild Card race, Anaheim has the pole position right now, leading Toronto by 1.5 games and Baltimore by 2 games.
Turning to the National League and starting in the East Division, the New York Mets have jumped ahead of Washington in the standings, leading the Nationals by 1 game. Despite a season filled with injuries to big names so far, Washington has remained in contention. The play of Bryce Harper has kept the Nationals on top of or near the top of the division. Harper leads the NL with 29 HR's, is 2nd in batting average (.330), and 4th in RBI's (68). For the Mets, their pitching has remained strong. Both Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom have 10 wins on the season. deGrom's 2.09 ERA is also 2nd lowest in the NL.
In the Central, St. Louis has opened up some space between themselves and 2nd place Pittsburgh. The Cardinals lead the Pirates by 5.5 games, and have an 8.5 game lead over 3rd place Chicago. Those 3 teams have 3 of the top 4 records in the National League as well. Pitching has been strong in this division. For the Cardinals, both Michael Wacha (12) and Carlos Martinez (11) have double digit wins. For Pittsburgh, Gerrit Cole leads the majors with 14 wins. And the Cubs Jake Arrieta's 12 wins are tied for 2nd in the NL with Wacha. The Pirates Mark Melancon leads the majors with 34 saves, while the Cardinals Trevor Rosenthal is tied for 2nd in MLB with 31.
Out West, Los Angeles holds a 2 game lead over San Francisco. The Dodgers remain on top of the division due to the work of their big two pitchers. Zack Greinke's 1.41 ERA is the lowest in the majors, while Clayton Kershaw's 2.37 ERA is 4th lowest in the NL. Greinke's 10 wins put him in the top 10 in the NL as well. Buster Posey has led the way for the Giants, batting .332 (2nd in NL) with 75 RBI's (3rd in the NL). Teammates Matt Duffy (.310) and Joe Panik (.309) both are in the NL's top 10 in batting average. The Giants have gotten big contributions from the mound too. Madison Bumgarner's 12 wins are tied for 2nd most in the NL, while Chris Heston's 11 wins are right behind him.
In the Wild Card race, Pittsburgh is in the lead, 3 games ahead of Chicago and 3.5 games ahead of San Francisco.
Heading down the stretch, there is still a lot to be decided. With lots of tight races, there should be plenty of excitement between now and October.

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