Thursday, March 20, 2008

AL Notes

With about a month to go (30 games left), here are the stories we're looking at down the stretch:

1. The last wild-card spot. The AL West "race" is over, as Las Vegas is about to clinch. Louisville and Milwaukee hold 9 and 10 game leads, respectively, in their divisions and are looking fairly comfortable. The AL South has the closest race with Nashville only 5 games back of Monterrey, but both should have little trouble making the playoffs (Nashville holds an 8 game lead on the other wild card contenders). So that leaves 1 spot left, and Cleveland has a 1 game lead over New York right now. Huntington can't be counted out, as they only trail by 3. This race could be decided in the final days of the regular season. By the way, New York finishes with a 3 game set at Huntington.

2. The chase for .400: Gregg Black has had an amazing season for the Nashville Sounds. He's already driven in 150 (191 and beyond may be a little out of reach, although he's on pace for about 185) and has an insane OBP of .520 (meaning he's on base more than half the time he steps up to the plate), but one of baseball's storied hitting numbers is .400. With a current average of .393, he's got a shot to reach that magical plateau. It would be an incredible feat if he could manage to do it. As an afterthought, he might be in the 40-40 club (currently 45 HR, 35 SB); he and teammate Paxton Forrest (33 HR, 37 SB) have the best chance to pull it off.

3. Kenneth Graves: As New York strives to make the playoffs, they called up star prospect Kenneth Graves to pitch out of the bullpen as a setup man. They're hoping to catch some Joba Chamberlain-like magic out of this 19-year-old kid. Can he do the job? Will this help or hurt his development? Only time will tell.

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