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Playoff picture coming into focus

A closer look at the playoff races around the Minors
August 17, 2007
Here's a closer look at what the playoff picture looks like with roughly two weeks left in the regular season.



Division leaders: Scranton/WB (North), Richmond (South), Toledo (West)
Wild Card: Durham

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre did not yield any ground to second-place Rochester over the past week and continue to lead the North Division by four games. Things have gotten much cozier in the South, however, as Richmond's advantage over Wild Card-leading Durham has been reduced to just one game. The Mud Hens have a comfortable 7 ½ game cushion in the West, but second-place Indianapolis is still in the Wild Card hunt (along with Rochester and Buffalo).


Division Leaders: Nashville (American North), New Orleans (American South), Salt Lake (Pacific North), Sacramento (Pacific South)

The league's tightest division remains the American South, where New Orleans currently holds a 2 ½ game edge over Albuquerque and a three-game advantage over Oklahoma. Nashville just hit the 75-win plateau, and its lead over Iowa is at a seemingly comfortable 5 ½ games. Salt Lake increased its advantage over Colorado Springs in the Pacific North to 4 ½ games, while Sacramento continues to lead the Pacific South by six games over the defending champion Sidewinders.



Division leaders: Trenton (Northern), Akron (Southern)
Wild Card: Portland (North), Erie (South)

After suffering through a mild slump, Trenton has re-established its stranglehold on the Northern Division. The Thunder's lead over Portland is at eight games, and their magic number now sits at 14. Portland's lead in the Wild Card, meanwhile, remains at 3 ½ over New Hampshire. Watch out for Bowie in the Southern Division! The third-place BaySox have won 10 games in a row and are now 3 ½ back of division-leading Akron and 2 ½ behind the wild Card-leading Erie SeaWolves.


First-half winners: Springfield (North), Frisco (South)
Second-half leaders: Springfield (North), Frisco (South)

Anything can happen in the Texas League, where first-half winners Springfield and Frisco both have a half-game edge in their divisions (over Arkansas and San Antonio, respectively). Tulsa is just two games back in the South, while Corpus Christi is three games behind in the North. If Frisco and/or Springfield repeat, then the second playoff spot in its division goes to the team with the best overall record. Currently, that would be Tulsa in the North and Midland in the South.


First-half winners: Huntsville (North), Mississippi (South)
Second-half leaders: Huntsville (North), Jacksonville (South)

The Montgomery Biscuits are rising in the South and are now just a game back of Jacksonville. In the North, first-half winner Huntsville has a four-game lead over Chattanooga. If the Stars hold on and win their division yet again, then the second playoff spot in the North will go to the team with the next-best overall record. That club will almost certainly by Tennessee (65-56 on the season).



First-half Winners: San Jose (North), Lancaster (South)
Second-half Leaders: Modesto (North), Lancaster (South)

In the North, the Nuts have a mere half-game advantage over hard-charging Visalia, who have won three games in a row and eight of their last 10. Lancaster is threatening to repeat in the South, but Lake Elsinore is just two games back and still very much in the running.


First-half Winners: Frederick (Northern), Kinston (Southern)
Second-half Leaders: Wilmington (Northern), Kinston (Southern)

Wilmington maintains a healthy five-game advantage over Potomac in the Northern Division, where first-half winner Frederick has dropped into last place. Kinston, meanwhile, is bidding for a repeat in the Southern Division. The Keys have a six-game edge over Salem and an eight-game advantage over slumping Myrtle Beach.


First-half Winners: Brevard County (East), Sarasota (West)
Second-half Leaders: Brevard County (West), Clearwater/Dunedin (West)

The FSL's West Division is the tightest in all of Minor League Baseball. Clearwater (winners of seven straight) and Dunedin are tied for first, Tampa is a half game back, and Fort Myers (winners of 11 straight) is just 2 ½ games off the pace. Even the fifth-place Sarasota Reds (who won the Division in the first half) are just 4 ½ games out. The East is only slightly less intriguing. First-half winners Brevard County lead surging St. Lucie by 1 ½, Palm Beach by four, and Jupiter by 4 ½.



First-half winners: West Virginia (Northern), Augusta (Southern)
Second-half leaders: Hickory (Northern), Columbus (Southern)

The Southern Division is really heating up, as Columbus has won four in a row and now leads Asheville by 1 ½ games and Charleston by three. Northern Division-leading Hickory has lost three games in a row but still has a six-game lead over Lakewood. The Crawdads' magic number to win the division currently stands at 13.


First-half winners: Dayton (Eastern), Beloit (Western)
First-half Wild Card: West Michigan (Eastern), Clinton (Western)
Second-half leaders: Lansing (Eastern), Quad Cities (Western)
Second-half Wild Card: South Bend (Eastern), Peoria (Western)

West Michigan and Dayton have already clinched playoff spots in the Eastern Division, so that leaves Lansing (29-23) and South Bend (25-26) as virtual locks to obtain the second-half playoff spots. The Western Division, meanwhile, has a good old-fashioned pennant race going on. Quad Cities has won five in a row and now has a 3 ½ game edge over Wild Card-leading Peoria. Burlington, Kane County and Cedar Rapids are all trailing Peoria in the hunt for the wild card.



Division Leaders: Brooklyn (McNamara), Auburn (Pinckney), Oneonta (Stedler)
Wild Card Leader: Staten Island

In the McNamara Division, Brooklyn has a 5 ½ game edge over Wild Card-leading Staten Island (who lead Vermont by just a game in that category). In the Pinckney Division, Auburn's edge over Mahoning Valley has shrunk to just one game, and State College is 4 ½ out. Oneonta has overtaken Vermont in the Stedler Division, while Lowell is just 2 ½ games out of first.


Division Leaders: Spokane (East), Salem-Keizer (West)

The Northwest League is a tale of two divisions. Salem-Keizer has won 11 straight to increase its lead in the West to 16 games. The Volcanoes' magic number to clinch the division is at five, and there is a chance they could finish the season with a winning percentage over .800. In the West, meanwhile, no team has a winning record, and all four teams are separated by just 3 ½ games. Spokane leads Boise by a ½ game, Tri-City by 2 ½ and Yakima by 3 ½.



Division Leaders: Danville (East), Elizabethton (West)

Appy League fans can go ahead and start making their postseason travel plans. The Elizabethton Twins, at 42-15, have already clinched the West Division, and there's not much intrigue in the East either. Danville currently has a 10-game edge over second-place Burlington, and its magic number to clinch stands at four.


First-half Winners: Helena (North), Idaho Falls (South)
Second-half Leaders: Great Falls (North), Idaho Falls (South)

Great Falls has gone 12-5 to start the second half and currently has a four-game lead over Billings, Helena and Missoula (all of whom have identical 8-9 records). In the South Division, Idaho Falls won the first half and currently leads in the second. Orem is just two games off the pace, while slumping Ogden is four back.


First-half Winner: Mariners
Second-half Leader: Royals

The Royals, at 12-5, remain in first place in the tightly-packed AZL. The Angels are two games out, while the Giants are three off the pace. None of the league's nine teams are more than five games back, however, so expect lots of jostling for position over the next several weeks.


Division Leaders: Yankees (North), Dodgers (East), Twins (South)

The Yankees and Dodgers have nine-game leads in their respective divisions, so both clubs can be considered virtual locks for the postseason. The South is still close, however, as the Twins' lead over the Orioles is just 1 ½ games. The team with the best record in the regular season gets a first-round bye in the playoffs. Currently, the Yankees are at 37-15, while the Dodgers are 1 ½ back at 33-14.

Benjamin Hill is a contributor to