The state of the races with one month to go
A week ago, the AL East looked like it would be a huge battle between the Red Sox and the Rays. Yes, the Orioles and Yankees were still in the race, but deep in the periphery.
Then the Rays went out West and forgot how to win a game. A 5 game losing streak has pushed Boston's lead in the division to 5.5 games. That's a pretty big margin with approximately 25 games to go. 2011 was an anomaly, not a normal occurrence. According to Baseball Prospectus's Playoff Odds Report, the Red Sox have a 98.9% chance of making the playoffs, and a 92.7% chance of winning the division. After having everything that could wrong go wrong in 2012, Boston has officially successfully rebounded.
With the East looking close to settled and the Tigers having the Central well in hand, the West luckily is giving us a division race. Once again it's between the Rangers and Athletics, and once again the A's are the hot team. Oakland has won 8 of their last 10, and yesterday started a big series against Texas with a win that tied up the division. Both teams are 5.5 up in the Wild Card race and have playoff odds greater than 95%, so just like 2012, this race isn't about making the playoffs. Once again, it's about avoiding the Wild Card coin flip game. The Rangers know all about what can happen in that game.
With the Rays coming back to the field recently, the race for the second Wild Card looks like a race again. Tampa's lead is just 2 games over the Orioles, who are still in it despite regressing to the worst one-run record in the majors (15-24). The Yankees, despite all their issues, are also still in it at 2.5 games back. The seemingly also streaking in some direction Indians are slumping again, but thanks to the Rays struggles are only 3.5 games back. Even the Royals, left for dead a few weeks ago, have recovered to 4.5 games back, although needing to pass 4 teams make them the longest of long shots. Tampa is easily the least flawed of this group of flawed teams, and can end this race if they get it back together. However, their recent slump has given hope to those behind them, and all the AL East spend the whole month playing each other (the Orioles last game outside of the division is this Sunday). The O's and Yankees, if nothing else, will get their chance.
On the awards front, it's looking real good for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera is 4 homers away from another Triple Crown, and is a lock for the MVP award unless he misses most of the month with injuries (and even that might not matter). Some recent poor starts from his rivals puts the Cy Young more in Max Scherzer's grasp, even for reasons other than the simplistic "19-1." Rookie of the Year is looking like a battle between Wil Myers and Chris Archer of the Rays, and Jose Iglesias of the Tigers, who's hitting line will look decent and is backed by amazing defense.
Turn the page for the state of the NL heading into September.