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Playoff pictures vary in clarity08/15/2008 1:26 PM ET
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Division leaders: Scranton/WB (North), Durham (South), Louisville (West)
There is very little intrigue remaining in the International League, as the four teams listed above are all in very good shape to reach the postseason. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Pawtucket are currently separated by a mere 2.5 games in the North Division, but whoever falls short in that race is a virtual lock for the Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Durham Bulls have an 8.5-game cushion over Norfolk in the South Division, while the streaking Louisville Bats have opened up a 12-game lead over Toledo in the West.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Division leaders: Iowa (American Northern), Oklahoma (American Southern), Salt Lake (Pacific Northern), Sacramento (Pacific Southern)
For a league comprised of four four-team divisions, the PCL's pennant races are surprisingly anemic. With a 9.5-game lead over Las Vegas, streaking Sacramento is sitting pretty in the Pacific Southern. Iowa, Oklahoma and Salt Lake are all in comfortable positions as well, as the Cubs and RedHawks currently maintain a seven-game cushion over their nearest competitors, while the Bees are five ahead. Of these teams, Salt Lake seems the most vulnerable. The club has sputtered since a historic start to the season, and hard-charging Tacoma refuses to go away.
Division leaders: Trenton (Northern), Bowie (Southern)
In the Eastern League, playoff drama is tempered somewhat by the fact that the top two teams in each division make it to the playoffs. As the owner of the best record in the league, the defending-champion Trenton Thunder are waltzing toward another Northern Division title. There is much more uncertainty when it comes to who will finish in second, however, as Portland, Connecticut and Binghamton are all within three games of one another. In the Southern Division, Bowie and Akron are currently separated by one game, and third-place Harrisburg (six games back) can't be counted out just yet.
First-half winners: West Tenn (North), Birmingham (South)
Mississippi and Montgomery are mixing it up in the South, with the Braves currently clinging to a half-game lead over the Biscuits. Third-place Birmingham is already guaranteed a playoff spot after winning the season's first half, and Mobile and Jacksonville are too far back to be factors. The North Division is Carolina's to lose, as the Mudcats have opened up a formidable eight-game lead over the fading Tennessee Smokies.
First-half winners: Arkansas (North), Frisco (South)
With a four-game lead over Springfield, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals are on the cusp of making the playoffs in their inaugural season. Things are a bit murkier in the South, where first-half champion Frisco trails Midland by a half-game and San Antonio sits five back of the RockHounds. If the RoughRiders climb back into the top spot and repeat, then the playoff slot will go to the club with the best overall record, and San Antonio and Midland are deadlocked at 64-57.
Class A Advanced
First-half winners: San Jose (North), Lancaster (South)
San Jose and Lancaster are both threatening to repeat in their respective divisions. The Giants have a 3.5-game lead over Modesto, while the JetHawks are a half-game up on Rancho Cucamonga, and three ahead of both Lake Elsinore and Inland Empire. If the first-half champs repeat, each division's remaining playoff spots go to the clubs with the two best overall records. Currently, that would be Stockton and Modesto in the North, and Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore in the South.
First-half winners: Potomac (Northern), Myrtle Beach (Southern)
As in the California League, the Carolina League's two first-half winners are threatening to repeat in the second half. Potomac is up by 2.5 games over Wilmington in the North, while Myrtle Beach has a 3.5-game lead over Kinston in the South. If both clubs do indeed repeat, then the playoff spots would go to the clubs with the second-best second-half records. In that case, Wilmington would have to hold off Frederick and Lynchburg in the Northern Division, while Kinston would need to keep Winston-Salem at bay.
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE
First-half winners: Palm Beach (East), Fort Myers (West)
The FSL is truly a tale of two divisions. The Blue Jays have run away with the West, and are currently 10.5 games ahead of second-place Tampa. The East is a totally different story, as Daytona, St. Lucie and Palm Beach are all within 3 .5 games of Jupiter. Even Brevard County, at six games back, is still in the running.
First-half winners: Lansing (Eastern), Clinton (Western)
In the Eastern Division, South Bend has a four-game advantage over Dayton, which has to be looking in both directions as Fort Wayne and West Michigan are within 3.5 games of the Wild Card spot. In the wild, wild Western, Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities and Beloit are all within 3.5 games of division-leading Burlington. Whoever finishes in second place in this currently wide-open race will snag the second-half Wild Card.
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE
First-half winners: Lake County (Northern), Asheville (Southern)
Lakewood and West Virginia are currently tied atop the Northern Division, and the clubs figure to battle it out to the bitter end. It seems unlikely that third-place Delmarva (5.5 back) will be able to find its way into contention at this point. In the Southern Division, Augusta hopes to pad its 4.5-game lead over second-place Columbus.
Class A Short-Season
NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE
Division leaders: Staten Island (McNamara), Jamestown (Pinckney), Lowell (Stedler)
There's a great race brewing in the Pinckney Division, where Jamestown has a 1.5-game lead over Batavia and 2.5-game lead over Auburn. Whoever finishes in second place in that division will most likely secure the Wild Card spot. Streaking Staten Island has a three-game advantage over equally hot Hudson Valley in the McNamara Division, while Brooklyn is just four games off of the pace. Meanwhile, over in the Stedler Division, Lowell is the only team with a winning record. The Spinners lead Oneonta by 4.5 and both Tri-City and Vermont by six.
Division leaders: Spokane (East), Salem-Keizer (West)
It is quite refreshing to gaze upon the Northwest League standings, which feature two divisions and no Wild Card. Sometimes, simpler is better. Defending-champion Salem-Keizer has a 2.5-game lead over Eugene in the West, and the clubs are scheduled to face each other six more times this season. In the East, Spokane has a five-game advantage over Boise. Those two teams still have a whopping nine games remaining against one another, however, including a pair of three-game home-and-away sets to close out the season.
Division leaders: Pulaski (East), Elizabethton (West)
The Danville Braves and Elizabethton Twins have met in the Appy League Finals in each of the past three seasons, but that streak may come to an end this year. In the East Division, Pulaski holds a 5.5-game lead over Danville. Elizabethton leads the West, however, and currently enjoys margins of four games over Kingsport, five over Johnson City and six over Bristol.
First-half winners: Billings (North), Orem (South)
Both Billings and Orem have jumped out to second-half leads after winning first-half titles, which means that there is a strong possibility that the remaining playoff slots will go to the clubs with the next-best overall record. In that likely scenario, Great Falls has a two-game lead over Helena in the North, while Ogden has a half-game edge on Casper in the South.
First-half winner: Angels
The Arizona League is not broken up into divisions, which results in a simple playoff format of first-half winner vs. second-half winner. The Giants are currently at the top of the second-half standings, although the Rangers, Padres and Cubs are all within four games.
GULF COAST LEAGUE
Division leaders: Phillies (North), Dodgers (East), Pirates (South)
The South Division-leading Pirates have the best record in the league, but nonetheless lead the Twins by a mere game. The loser of this taut race is currently in line for the wild card, which is being utilized in the GCL for the first time this season. Meanwhile, the Phillies are four games up on the Yankees in the North, while the Dodgers enjoy a narrow half-game advantage over the Nationals in the East.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.