This baseball season has been full of excitement, surprises, twists and turns. While the season has already been fun, we’ve reached the final month — and it’s going to be a wild ride through the end of the year.
Here are three things fans can look forward to in the regular season’s final frame.
1. The NL MVP Race
The Braves have the best offense in baseball. They lead MLB in runs scored and are on pace to break the Minnesota Twins’ record of 307 home runs in a single season. Ronald Acuña Jr. is the center of all of that and has been consistently the best player in the game since the start of the season. He’s the first player with at least 60 stolen bases since Dee Strange-Gordon in 2017 and still has an outside shot at joining the 40-40 club.
But there are two former MVPs in LA whose monster numbers since the All-Star break have put them in the middle of the conversation. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman have powered the Dodgers back to the top of the NL West and have both made serious cases to be finalists for the NL’s top award.
With five weeks left to play, Freeman leads MLB this season with 50 doubles. Only six other players have reached the 60-double threshold, and the 2020 NL MVP has a chance to join them.
Betts has arguably the best case to overtake Acuña Jr. The 2018 AL MVP has been red hot in August with a ridiculous 1.282 OPS this month, and he’s now sitting high on the leaderboard in slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and WAR. Not to mention he’s already matched his career high in homers with a month remaining.
September is going to be a wild ride.
2. Madness in the AL West
There’s no race in MLB this season that has been as wild as this year’s AL West. The Texas Rangers appeared to be in cruise control, but things have fallen apart in Arlington and the Seattle Mariners have picked up the ball and run with it.
The Mariners are MLB’s hottest team in August with a 20-5 record this month. Led by superstar center fielder Julio Rodriguez, the M’s have taken a one-game lead in the division with five weeks remaining.
Not only are they leading their division, they have one of the weakest schedules down the stretch with series against the A’s, Mets and Angels. Their tougher series will come in the middle of September against the Reds, Dodgers and Rays before closing out the regular season with two series against the Rangers and one with the Astros.
It’s truly amazing to think that Seattle now controls its own destiny a month after being 10 games out of the division.
3. Newcomers Enter the NL Playoff Picture
This season’s playoff picture in the National League will have its fair share of new blood added to the postseason tournament. While teams like the Dodgers, Braves and Phillies are familiar faces, several teams are looking to get to the postseason for the first time in years.
While the Reds, Cubs and Marlins each made it to the postseason in the shortened 2020 season, they haven’t been during a full season since 2013, 2018 and 2003, respectively. The Diamondbacks, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2017, are also trying to stake their claim to one of the three Wild Card spots.
With the Phillies likely grabbing the first NL Wild Card spot, it’s going to be a fight for the final two seeds amongst the Reds, Cubs, Marlins, D-Backs and Giants. And each has a reasonable chance to make it happen.