While the Twins weren't able to come away from this weekend's tilt versus the Astros with a series victory, the Texas Rangers also lost two of three. It kept Minnesota a game and a half out of the second Wild Card spot. There will be no late-season collision between the two squads, yet they both will play host to the Angels for four games. The Angels, for what it's worth, are just a game behind Minnesota in the Wild Card standings.
The story of the Wild Card race seems to focus on Texas and Minnesota, but with Los Angeles hot on the trail let's break down the schedules for all three of these contenders. It won't tell us which of the three teams will come away with the second Wild Card spot, if indeed any of them do, but it will give us a good idea of the road ahead - and whose road might be just a bit bumpier.
|MIN (70 - 66)||TEX (71 - 64)||LAA (69 - 67)|
|@ Home||13 (.618)||17 (.500)||12 (.594)|
|On the Road||13 (.412)||10 (.549)||14 (.418)|
The good news is that the Twins are one of the better teams in baseball when playing at home this season. That changes on the road, where the Rangers come out way ahead, but it's worth noting that Minnesota is 7-3 in their last ten games away from Target Field.
If all three of these teams win a proportionate amount of games at home and on the road as they've done all season, the Angels would finish 2015 with 82 wins, Texas would finish with 85, and the Twins would 83. That tactic isn't all that in-depth however, not to mention it doesn't come away with a result that we want to see, so let's do a bit deeper, shall we?
|Opp W%||.507||29-28||Opp W%||.483||24-32||Opp W%||.511||34-29|
There's a lot that's interesting here. Minnesota and Los Angeles have tougher opponents, but the Twins have fared well against them as a group this season and the Angels have done event better. The Rangers, meanwhile, have largely had trouble with most of their divisional opponents.
We're glossing over the home/road splits between each opponent, as well as run differential, due to what are effectively pretty small sample sizes. What this chart does do is give you a good idea of where these teams might be able to make up the most ground in these last few weeks, as well as the clubs that could be a bigger obstacle:
- The Twins have more or less owned Chicago in 2015, have been better against Detroit recently, and will probably have their work cut out for them with Kansas City.
- The Rangers haven't fared well with most of these clubs, barring the division-leading Astros, but they do get a good majority of their remaining games at home...if that's a good thing for club just managing a .500 record in Arlington.
- Los Angeles is interesting, as they've struggled against the best teams but have done well against the second tier and worse.
If we solely go with how well Minnesota, Texas, and Los Angeles have done against their respective opponents this year, then the Angels would come away with 83 wins, the Rangers 84, and the Twins 83. I'm starting to wonder what kind of number fiddling I need to do to get the Twins that second Wild Card spot.
Each team has their own advantage going into their last twenty-odd games. The Twins are playing better on the road and have one opponent they've beat up on this year. The Rangers have a majority of their remaining games in the confines of the Ballpark in Arlington (I refuse to call it by it's terrible corporate name, at least Target Field doesn't sound terrible). The Angels have the most difficult schedule, but they've already had success against a healthy number of them.
After looking through it all, nothing has been clarified at all. If anything the analysis of the remaining schedules has solidified the idea that all three of these teams have their work cut out for them, and that the only thing that will separate them from the other two will be playing better than they already have.
Or hoping for the other two teams to collapse, which seems unlikely. I think all three of these clubs are too good.