Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Magic Numbers: It's That Time Again

During a WGN radio broadcast earlier this week, Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland were covering the Chicago Cubs/Atlanta Braves games at Wrigley Field. Their discussion involved the Braves and how they were the leading the National League wild card race. They started to mention magic numbers. Magic numbers, of course, refer to the number of wins and losses required to clinch a division or wild card spot.

Pat and Keith attempted to give listeners their best the-Cubs-aren't-out-of-this-race-yet speech. Mathematically, they are correct. In reality, the Cubs fell out of the race around Memorial Day, if not earlier. Pat said it was still premature to discuss magic numbers, and that we are still at least three weeks away from needing to mention them. Unfortunately, the Cubs play in the National League Central. Over the last 30 games, give or take, the Milwaukee Brewers decided to run away with the division. At this point, only the St. Louis Cardinals stand a chance to win the division. They are 9 1/2 games out before today's games.

Of all the teams, the Brewers are the closest to securing a spot in the postseason. Prior to Saturday's games, the other divisions still have races. While I appreciate Pat Hughes' attempt to keep Cubs fans interested, the Brewers could have the NL Central wrapped in the next two weeks. Strange things happen (read this blog for proof), but the Brewers could be coasting into the playoffs. Here are the current magic numbers around the National and American Leagues:

National League

Central: Milwaukee Brewers - 21
East: Philadelphia Phillies - 26
West: Arizona Diamondbacks - 28
Wild Card: Atlanta Braves - 22

American League

Central: Detroit Tigers - 27
East: Boston Red Sox - 32
West: Texas Rangers - 28
Wild Card: New York Yankees - 26


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