Let the Pennant Races Begin!

Max Scherzer

With nine weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s time to turn our attention to the division pennant races and the chase for the league’s eight playoff berths. Below is a breakdown of each division and what we can expect over the final two months of the regular season.

NORTH DIVISION

This is a three-team race, at least until outfielder Mike Trout returns to Bacon at Mile 11’s lineup sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Bacon has dominated North Division foes, going 33-14-1. The team has yet to lose a division series. They face the Bulls and Home Run 101 three times each over the final nine weeks of the season.

With Trout shelved, Trea Turner has emerged as Bacon’s team leader. Turner is hitting .272 with a .729 OPS, 53 runs scored, 32 RBI and 29 net stolen bases. He’s helped Bacon top the league in net stolen bases. Turner is one of five players ranked in the league’s Top 80 for Bacon.

Hapamon lost all three series against Bacon but they trail by just 2.5 games and they have the division’s top-rated player, pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has 15 quality starts in 18 attempts with a 2.18 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a 10.6 K/9. In a two-start week, Kershaw can change the course of a series. The team has the lowest ERA in the league and is tied for the lowest WHIP.

The Bulls have an outside shot at the division title, trailing Bacon by just five games. They are also in the thick of the playoff chase, sitting in ninth overall. But do they have enough firepower? The Bulls have just three players ranked in the Top 80 and they have 11 players ranked below replacement level.

The Bulls need to ride a strong second half from Stephen Strasburg. He’s the team’s best player, earning 12 quality starts in 17 attempts with a 3.28 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Strasburg has propelled the Bulls to the league’s second lowest ERA.

Home Run 101 trails Bacon by 12 games and has just three players ranked in the Top 80, led by second baseman Jose Altuve. The team is relying on 12 players ranked below replacement level.

SOUTH DIVISION

The JetSetters have the league’s best record thanks to a prolific offense led by veteran first baseman Joey Votto and infielder Jose Ramirez. Votto is ranked sixth overall and is hitting .312 with a 1.038 OPS. He has 61 RBIs and 61 runs scored. Ramirez is ranked 12th and his hitting .326 with a .969 OPS. He’s scored 59 runs.

Votto and Ramirez are two of the team’s five players ranked in the Top 80. The offense has been prolific, leading the league in opportunities thanks to more plate appearances than any other team. The JetSetters rely on just six players ranked below replacement level, a big reason why they have built an eight game lead in the division.

Let’s Play 2 has an opportunity to make up ground on the division leaders as they face them three times in the final nine weeks. Outfielder Mookie Betts is in the conversation for league MVP, currently ranking fifth. He’s hitting .277 with a 0.855 OPS, 58 runs scored, 51 RBIs and 13 net stolen bases.

Betts is one of five players ranked in the Top 80 for Let’s Play 2. The team has nine players ranked below replacement level. If the team can find production in the bullpen over the final nine weeks, it could contend for a division title and a league championship.

High Cheese is the only team in the division that doesn’t have a player ranked in the Top 80. The division title is out of the question, as High Cheese trails by 22.5 games and hopes for a playoff berth are beginning to fade. Mark Reynolds is the team’s top-rated player but High Cheese is relying on 12 players ranked below replacement level.

It’s been a tough initial season for first-time fantasy baseball GM Jen Valdivia. Her team, Las Estellas Rojas, is in last place. Robinson Cano is the team’s top-rated player and one of three ranked in the league’s top 80. Rojas has been very good on the bases, ranking third in net stolen bases.

EAST DIVISION

Stadium Mustard and Everybody Hurts are set to wage a spirited battle for the East Division pennant over the final nine weeks of the season. Stadium Mustard holds a 4.5 game lead but they face each other three times.

Reliever Andrew Miller has been a strong presence in the bullpen for Stadium Mustard in the first half of the season. He’s ranked 15th overall and has 18 net saves/holds with a 1.70 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. Miller is a big reason why the team is tied for the league lead in net saves/holds.

Stadium Mustard has five players ranked in the Top 80 and relies on nine players that are below replacement level. To win the pennant, the team needs to find reliable starting pitching.

Young slugger Aaron Judge will carry the pennant hopes of Everybody Hurts during the stretch run. Judge is ranked seventh overall. He’s hitting .333 with a 1.150 OPS and is a big reason the team leads the league in OPS. Judge has scored 73 runs and knocked in 63. He’s one of five players ranked in the Top 80 for Everybody Hurts. The team relies on just five players ranked below replacement level.

After a tough start, GM Allen Bush has guided the Midtown Marsupials into playoff contention. They’ve won four of their past seven series and face Everybody Hurts three times in the season’s final nine weeks.

The Marsupials have seven players ranked in the Top 80, the most of any team in the division. Infielder Daniel Murphy is ranked 10th and is hitting .340 with a 0.969 OPS. He’s driven in 60 runs in 78 games. Murphy and the offense strike out fewer times than any team in the league. The Marsupials have enough firepower to compete with any team in the division and rely on just six players ranked below replacement level. The pitching has been solid, as the team leads the league in WHIP.

Land Shark has fallen 21.5 games out of first place in the division and has just four players ranked in the Top 80 while relying on 12 players ranked below replacement level. The team can be dangerous on any given week as they have the league’s top-rated hitter in Paul Goldschmidt. The Arizona sluggers is hitting .315 with a 1.022 OPS and has driven in 66 runs over 83 games.

WEST DIVISION

It’s just like old times. A-Rod’s Mirrors and the Lower Haighters are set for another epic battle for the West Division pennant.

The Haighters lead the Mirrors by 8.5 games but they’ll face each other three times over the final nine weeks of the regular season. Both teams are ranked in the league’s top five and feature plenty of star power. Each has eight players ranked in the Top 80 and are led by a reliever.

Corey Knebel is ranked 24th overall and is the top-rated player for the Lower Haighters. He has 18 net saves/holds with a 1.13 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Knebel is a big reason the Lower Haighters lead the league in K/9. The team isn’t built around star players but it has reduced its reliance on replacement level players, where it has just six. The team leads the league in both runs scored and RBI.

Craig Kimbrel is turning in one of the best seasons for a reliever in league history. He has 20 net saves/holds with a 1.22 ERA, 0.51 WHIP and a 15.7 K/9 for the Mirrors. Outfielder Bryce Harper is the top offensive player in the division. He’s hitting .320 with a 1.020 OPS and has driven in 62 runs and scored 66 more. Harper is a big reason the Mirrors have the second most RBI in the league.

Warning Track Power trails by 17.5 in the division but is still in the thick of the playoff hunt. Chris Sale is the division’s best starting pitcher and he’s ranked second overall. Sale has 15 quality starts with a 2.61 ERA and 0.895 WHIP. On a two-start week, Sale can win several categories for Warning Track Power. The team has eight players ranked in the Top 80 and 10 players that are below replacement level.

After last year’s championship, the Menehunes have fallen on hard times this season. They are 25.5 games out in the division race and are fading from the playoff race. They have just five players ranked in the Top 80 and have nine players ranked below replacement level.

While they may be out of playoff contention, the Menehunes can be very dangerous from week-to-week, as they have the league’s top-rated player, pitcher Max Scherzer. Scherzer has 15 quality starts with a 2.61 ERA and 0.895 WHIP. They will come after you with starting pitchers, as they lead the league in both innings pitched and quality starts.

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