The Race for the Pennant is Here

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As fall begins, the Major League Baseball season is drawing to a close. Ten major league teams advance to the postseason, five from the National League and five from the American League. In each league there are three division champions, teams with the best record in the regular season and in their division, and two wildcard teams, teams with the next best records. This year the National League wildcard teams were the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The American League wildcard game was between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees. The division winners in the National League were the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals. The division winners in the American League were the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.

The Indians have not won a World Series since 1948. They lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs in game seven. They ended this season 41-7 as one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Astros have never won a World Series in their ten postseason appearances. They are led by American League MVP candidate Jose Altuve. The Dodgers have not been to the World Series in 29 years, despite having the best record in their division five times in that span. This season, they finished with the best record in baseball 104-58. The Nationals, led by Bryce Harper, are in their fourth postseason appearance in six years. They have not won a World Series since their founding as the Montreal Expos in 1969.

The Twins had the worst record in baseball in 2016, so a World Series win would be the first time a team goes from worst in the League to World Series champions in just one year. The Rockies have reached the postseason for just the fourth time in franchise history. The Yankees, led by breakout superstar rookie Aaron Judge, are looking to reclaim their title with a new generation of so-called Bronx Bombers. The Diamondbacks had a dreadful 2016 record, but they allowed 250 fewer runs in 2017 to make the postseason. The Cubs are the reigning World Series champions and are going for the first back-to-back championship since the 1998-2000 Yankees. Entering the postseason, the favorites to win the World Series the Dodgers, Indians or Astros.

In the one game wildcard playoff game to advance to the division series, the Diamondbacks won 11-8. The Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 in the American League wildcard game.

The two National League division series were between the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers and the Cubs and the Nationals. The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks in three games and the Cubs won their series three games to two games. The two American League division series were between the Indians and the Yankees and the Astros and the Red Sox. The Yankees won their division series three games to two games. The Astros beat the Red Sox in three games.

In the next round, the Championship Series, the Astros took on the Yankees and the Cubs took on the Dodgers. The Championship Series is a best of seven matchup, with two more possible games than the division series. As of this writing, the Yankees are leading the American League Championship Series 3-2. The Dodgers are leading the Cubs in the National League Championship Series 3-1. The two teams that win the Championship Series will advance to a seven-game World Series matchup.

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

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