To be frank, the last month of the regular season is shaping up to be quite the snoozefest. The division and wild card winners are all but locked up. And barring some colossal collapse down the stretch (which is possible, of course) the playoff field for the AL will consist of the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, and Rangers, and the NL will be represented by the Phillies, Braves, Brewers, and Diamondbacks. There seem to be no races in sight.
But as Suzyn Waldman kindly pointed out during yesterday’s Yankees/Orioles broadcast there is one race that is still in high contention. And that is the race for worst record in the American League. (The Astros are a lock for the worst NL record.) There are currently four teams bottoming out the AL standings:
Kansas City 60-84
So which team will end up with the unenviable title of “League’s Worst Record?”
The Orioles certainly have the toughest schedule over the final three weeks of the season. They are currently in the middle of a series with the division-leading Yankees and will then face the Blue Jays, Rays, Angels, Red Sox (2 series), and Tigers. Yikes. Factor in the Orioles 18-38 record against their rivals in the AL East and it looks like it will be an ugly end for the O’s.
The Royals are perennial losers, albeit loveable ones. They face the anemic offense of the Mariners this weekend, and then finish the final three weeks solely against AL Central opponents. It goes without saying that the Royals won’t see any postseason action, but they certainly have the power to make White Sox and Tigers lives more difficult down the stretch. This young Royals team could finish strong, giving them a positive springboard going into the offseason.
If the Royals are perennial losers, the Twins are perennial underdogs. Indeed, even though they have had a disappointing, injury-laden season, there are a lot of variables that could prevent them from bottoming out the standings. Joe Mauer is back in the lineup and Justin Morneau could return this weekend in the DH role. The Twins biggest opponent down the stretch will be fatigue, which is already a problem for every team at this point in the season. But the Twins schedule is particularly exhausting – they dropped a double header to the White Sox yesterday, they’ll play a double header in Cleveland on the 24th, and in between they will make a trip to New York for a single makeup game against the Yankees.
The Mariners don’t score runs, plain and simple. They have scored a mere 483 runs this season, 61 fewer than the next lowest scoring AL team (the Twins). The Mariners only saving grace is their solid pitching staff that does not allow many runs. They’ll see some tough competition down the stretch in the Rangers and Yankees, but also have a considerable number of games remaining against the Royals, Twins, and A’s.
Look for the Orioles to hold the AL’s worst record when the regular season ends on September 29th. The Royals, Twins, and Mariners all have the chance to influence the remainder of each other’s seasons, but the Orioles (who already hold the league’s worst record by a slight margin) are at the mercy of the powerhouse Yankees and Red Sox, not to mention the Rays and Blue Jays, who could arguably be contending teams this year if they were in any division other than the AL East.
Robbie is the author of The Baseblawg and you can follow her on Twitter @clarkbar213.