The Playoff Picture (as of September 6)
Statistics are as of the morning of September 6.
Today’s the final day of the regular season for the full-season minor leagues. Here’s an update on the playoff status for each of the Angels affiliates.
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 (73-70) were eliminated last night. They won 6-3 over Reno, but Tacoma (74-68) won 9-0 at Fresno, so the Rainiers have a 1½ game lead with one game left on the schedule. Expect the Angels to start calling up Bees players to Anaheim, with Mark Trumbo at the front of the line.
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’ve clinched last place in the second half with a record of 28-41, but broke a ten-game losing streak last night with an 8-1 win over Springfield. Travs fans can look forward to receiving next year many of the players on Rancho Cucamonga’s title-contending team. Speaking of which …
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 35-34, three games behind the first-place Quakes (38-31). High Desert (37-32) is in second place, one game behind Rancho. The Quakes play tonight at Lancaster, while the Mavericks play 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. The Storm were eliminated last night from any possibility of winning the second half, so it’s down to the Quakes and Mavericks. If Rancho wins at Lancaster, and/or High Desert loses at Lake Elsinore, the Quakes take the second-half title. If Rancho loses and High Desert wins, then the two teams finish in a tie. According to the league’s playoff procedures, the tie would be broken by the two teams’ head-to-head record, which gives the Mavs the title as they lead the Quakes 14-13 head-to-head. All that’s really at stake right now is home field advantage for the first-round mini-series; the team that wins the second-half title is the home team for Games #2 and #3 in the first round.
Clear as mud?
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 38-31 with one game left today at Beloit. 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 won’t 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 hit much better in the second 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). Two weeks 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 have gone 2-10. The Owlz lost last night 10-9 in 10 innings at Idaho Falls. The Ghosts also lost, 11-7 at Ogden, so they remain in second place at 17-17 while the Owlz are in third at 16-17. Ogden at 21-12 is 4½ games ahead of Casper and five ahead of Orem. (The half-game difference comes from an Owlz’ rainout August 30 at Billings that won’t be made up, and an Ogden rainout at Great Falls the same day.)
Ogden has clinched both halves, so they’ll face the team with the second-best overall record. Right now, that would be the Owlz at 35-36, 1½ games ahead of Casper (34-38). Orem has four games left, all against the Raptors, two at home and then two at Ogden. Casper has left four games at home against Idaho Falls (26-46). The Owlz are still in control of their destiny; they need to win three of four against Ogden to clinch the wild card, otherwise they must rely on Casper to lose to Idaho Falls, which just swept the Owlz in a three-game series. Two Orem wins and one Casper loss in the next four days are all the Owlz need.
TEMPE — The Arizona League plays a 56-game schedule which ended Sunday August 29. The Angels finished 24-31, last in the AZL East, so no playoff this year for the rookie league team.