The 2011 Major League Baseball season has come to an end in dramatic fashion. Let's take a look back at what the final standings looked like throughout the league.
We'll start with the American League Central, where our beloved Minnesota Twins reside. This division was decided long ago, with the Detroit Tigers pulling away from the pack to take their first division title since they played in the American League East.
AL Central Standings
The Twins avoided a 100-loss season by the slimmest of margins, though they did wind up in last place in the division, possessing the worst record in the American League, and the second-worst record in all of Major League Baseball behind only the Houston Astros. Fate truly did stomp on the Minnesota Twins this season, and the hopes are that 2012 will be better. . .because, hey, it certainly can't be any worse.
Here is what the rest of the American League looked like:
AL East Standings
AL West Standings
The divisional races were pretty easily decided, as the New York Yankees and defending American League Champion Texas Rangers took their divisions by significant margins. The excitement came in the Wild Card race, which came down to the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox had a nine-game lead in the Wild Card race back on September 3, but completely fell apart in the month of September. How bad was Boston's collapse? You know how bad we said the Twins' month of September was because they only won five games for the entire month? Well, Boston only won six. The Rays, on the other hand, surged in September, and managed to sneak past the Red Sox on the final day of the season. Tampa defeated the Yankees 8-7 on Evan Longoria's walk-off home run, while the Red Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 when closer Jonathan Papelbon could not close the door in the bottom of the ninth.
Let's take a quick look at the National League as well, where there was another epic collapse involving the Wild Card race.
NL East Standings
NL Central Standings
NL West Standings
Again, like in the American League, the divisional races in the National League were decided a long time ago. But, once again, the Wild Card race was where the focus was, and this one came down to the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta had a 10.5-game lead over the Cardinals on August 26, and their lead on September 6 was still 8.5 games. But the Braves went 9-18 in the final month of the regular season, including losing their last five games of the year, while the Cardinals made up all that ground to tie going into the season's final game. On Wednesday night, the Cardinals crushed the Astros by a score of 8-0, while the Braves fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in 13 innings by a score of 4-3 to complete their collapse.
So, the playoff series for 2011 look like this:
Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers
Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies
The two American League series will get started on Friday, while the two National League series will get underway on Saturday. All of the games will be televised on TBS.