The Playoff Picture
Statistics are as of the morning of August 28.
The minor league seasons are coming down to the last days, so let’s take a look at each Angels affiliate and see where they are in their respective title chases.
SALT LAKE — The Pacific Coast League plays a 144-game schedule. Unlike lower levels, it’s all one season, not divided into two halves. The Bees are 67-67, 2½ games behind Tacoma in the Pacific North division. Salt Lake has ten games left, none of them against Tacoma. After two more games in Colorado Springs (59-74), they’ll be at home for the rest of the season, with four games against Fresno (73-61) and four against Reno (64-69).
ARKANSAS — The Texas League plays a 140-game schedule divided into two 70-game halves. The Travelers finished 26-44 in the first half, 16 games behind Northwest Arkansas in the North division.They seem doomed for a similar demise in the second half, with a 27-33 record. The Travs have ten games left, including six against the Springfield Cardinals who are 33-27, in third place six games ahead. It’s unlikely they’ll even catch Springfield, so it looks like the Travs will wind up in last place for both halves.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The California League also plays a 140-game schedule divided into two 70-game halves. The Quakes finished 39-31 in the first half, good but not good enough to win the Cal League South, falling seven games behind Lake Elsinore (46-24). The Storm have been more like a squall in the second half, currently at 30-30, two games behind the Quakes and High Desert who are tied for first at 32-28. Rancho has ten games left to play — three at home against Lancaster (23-47), three at home against High Desert, then four on the road at Lancaster. The Mavericks would seem to have the tougher schedule — only three more at home against Lake Elsinore, then three at Rancho, and finally four at Lake Elsinore.
The Cal League has a rather convoluted playoff procedure, in part because they add an extra tier of playoffs. Click here to read the playoff procedures. Basically, the first-half team (Lake Elsinore) gets a bye while the second-half winner plays the team with the next best overall record in a best-of-three playoff. Should the Storm win the second half too, then the teams with the second-best and third-best records would play. If you look at the overall records, Lake Elsinore is in first at 76-54, five games ahead of Rancho Cucamonga at 71-59 and seven ahead of High Desert at 69-61. The next best team is Lancaster, 24 games behind Lake Elsinore, so it would seem that the Storm, the Quakes and the Mavericks are all a lock for the post-season. All that appears to be at stake right now is home field advantage for the first-round mini-series; the team with the better finish is the home team for Games #2 and #3.
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Midwest League also plays a 140-game schedule split into two halves. The Kernels won the Western Division first half with a 43-25 record, so they’re automatically seeded into the post-season. They’re currently 32-28 with ten games to go. The current roster bears little resemblance to the first-half powerhouse. Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin were traded to Arizona. Garrett Richards and Orangel Arenas were promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. Fabio Martinez Mesa has been on the disabled list since August 1 with right shoulder tendonitis and it’s unclear whether he’ll be available for the playoffs. League MVP Mike Trout was also promoted to Rancho along with third baseman Luis Jimenez. Randal Grichuk has returned from the disabled list, which will help, and Carlos Ramirez has an OPS (OBP + SLG) of .878 in the second half after a putrid .596 first half.
OREM — The short-season Pioneer League plays a 76-game schedule divided into two halves of 38 games each. The Owlz finished 19-19 in the first half, four games behind Ogden (23-15). A week ago, Orem appeared poised to go off on another one of those famous Tom Kotchman runs as they won eight of ten between August 13 and 22 to move into first place for the second-half title, but since then they’ve lost four in a row to fall to 14-11, 1½ games behind the Raptors. Should Ogden win both halves, they’ll face the team with the second-best overall record. Right now, that would be the Owlz at 33-30, four games ahead of Casper (29-34). Orem has 12 games left, including two at home against Casper on September 1-2. They finish with four games against the Raptors, two at home and then two at Ogden. Barring a total collapse, it looks like the Owlz will reach the playoffs for the tenth straight year the franchise has been in Utah County, but they’ll need to play better to get past Ogden in the first round.
TEMPE — The Arizona League plays a 56-game schedule which ends Sunday August 29. The Angels are 23-30, last in the AZL East, so no playoff this year for the rookie league team.