As we inch ever closer to September some teams are starting to fall victim to a the long 162 game season. A few division leaders and top wildcard contenders have been hit with injuries to key players. I’ll take a look at if those injuries are going to hurt those teams chances at a playoff berth this week in baseball.
The highest profile injury in baseball right now is one that ended the career of Texas Rangers DH Prince Fielder. Last week Fielder announced that due to the a herniated disc in his neck he had to have a season ending surgery and under the advisement of his doctors, decided to retire. (read my article Fielder of Dreams Turned Rangers Nightmare if you want to know more) Will his absence affect the Rangers ability to make the playoffs? Doubtful. At the time of his injury, Fielder was batting a disappointing .170/.291/.255 and had only had 3 RBIs for July. His offensive prowess was but a shadow of what it was last season and Fielder almost seemed to be a burden on the lineup. At this point almost any player could fill his shoes.
What is more important to the Rangers run for the playoffs? In one word, hitting. One one hitter is doing overly better than another but they are playing small ball and making the best of men on base. The best hitters are Shin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland, trade deadline pickup Jonathan Lucroy, and long time 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre. All are hitting under .300 but over .250 and the arranging of the lineup has proved successful. Right now the Rangers are at the top of the AL West 5.5 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners and the likelihood of them staying there is strong.
A little over a week after the Miami Marlins were in the news because of Ichiro Suzuki’s 3000th hit, they are in the news again but this time for something less flattering. Franchise player Giancarlo Stanton was injured while sliding into 2nd base during a game against the Chicago White Sox Saturday. The Home Run Derby champ limped off the field and with him so did the Marlins best power hitter (25 HR, 70 RBIs). After an MRI Stanton was diagnosed with tendinitis and just like that, his season is over. He has turned into a 13 year $325 million dollar liability for the Marlins.
Right now the Marlins are sitting 8.5 games back of the NL East leading Washington Nationals and just .5 a game out of the Wildcard. This is the closest they have been to the playoffs in a while and losing Stanton could be a blow to their chances at making it to October. Next in line for most HRs and RBIs is Marcell Ozuna with 19 Hrs and 60 RBIs. Manager Don Mattingly will have to artfully place him the lineup and hope the guys ahead of him get on base to enterprise his power. Martin Prado has also been productive at the plate. He has 54 RBIs but lacks power with only 7 HRs.
Of these two teams the Rangers have the best shot at the playoffs. They have more staying power; better hitting with more power and consistent pitching. The Marlins have better pitching over all based on ERA but sadly if the offense can’t get guys home, it doesn’t matter how good the pitchers are. I have my fingers crossed for the Marlins. I’d love to see them be contenders in the playoffs, but luck doesn’t win games.
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