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Sept. 29, 2008

Peek at the Week: Filling the final spot

For 27 weeks, it has come to a vote, and now it has come to this: Let's settle this on the field.

Fab 15 is delighted to be trumped by Octoberquest. Fabulous has its own champion -- the Angels, who sit atop the final poll for the ninth time in 10 weeks -- but also a clear understanding that it means zilch.

It is, after all, a game of inches -- not one of chads, hanging or otherwise.

The baseballots have closed. Cue the real deal.

Among the repeaters:
• Biggest rise: Yankees (No. 14 to No. 11). • Biggest drop: Blue Jays (No. 10 to No. 12).

The Final Fab 15, after Week 27 balloting, with first-place votes and total points (on a 10-9-8-etc. basis) in parenthesis:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (22-287)
Reached their only remaining goal -- 100 wins, for first time in club history -- by going 12-5 after clinching the title; pretty impressive, and national reporter Jim Molony sees the Angels "poised to give the Red Sox a run as team of the decade."
Last week: 1 (21-287))


Rays (3-257)
There are no sure things in baseball, but their sold-out first two Division Series games come darn close: the Rays are 22-2 with 30,000-plus in Tropicana Field.
Last week: 3 (249)

Cubs (5-247)
The easy part's out of the way. Now North Siders can start to worry. Or, as put by Molony, "They have the pitching, hitting depth and home-field advantage, but no guarantees they won't stumble." Alfonso Soriano (with 11 hits and 24 strikeouts in his last 66 postseason at-bats) gets another shot at avoiding being the Barry Bonds of his generation.
2 (9-260)

Boston Red Sox (220)
Can they play enough Little Ball to again win the Big Prize? Finished without a 30-homer guy for the first time since 1999.
Last week: 4 (206)

Philadelphia Phillies (158)
Howard's End? Nope-- "Howard's back," says Angels reporter Lyle Spencer. "As the game's most menacing figure at the plate.
Last week: 5 (159)

Minnesota Twins (131)
Since May, have lost consecutive Metrodome games only twice, both times to the AL Central doormats: Detroit (Sept. 6-7) and Kansas City (Friday-Saturday). That could haunt them.
Last week: 8 (79)

Chicago White Sox (97)
Be still, my heart: Two more do-or-die games, just to get into the playoffs. But they get to play both of them at home, and that's huge.
Last week: 6 (142)

New York Mets (82)
What it came down to: Unlike most superheroes, Johan Santana didn't have a sidekick.
Last week: 7 (121)

Brewers (79)
What can Braun do for you? And CC? Didn't know Superman's cape came in a 270-pound size.
Last week: 11 (26)

Los Angeles Dodgers (38)
Last time they were in a postseason together, Derek Lowe won three clinchers and Manny Ramirez was World Series MVP. And now here comes the cavalry: Furcal, Kent, Saito.
Last week: 9 (63)

New York Yankees (8)
Pretty hearty last laugh: Actually wind up with the identical record as the Mets, who don't even make the playoffs.
Last week: 14 (4)

Blue Jays (5)
For the second time in three years, head into an offseason with one main objective: Romancing A.J. Burnett, this time to keep him in a Toronto uniform.
Last week: 10 (38)

Cleveland Indians (4)
As the Twins and White Sox staggered to the wire, what would the Tribe have needed to take advantage? Braves reporter Mark Bowman: "What would the race have looked like if CC had stayed in Cliff Lee’s rotation?"
Last week: NR (0)


Houston Astros (2)
Take another hot finish (20-9) into hibernation.
Last week: 13 (5)

Cincinnati Reds (1)
It won't make for a warm winter, but a winning September that included a 10-5 record against contenders is some consolation. Says Reds reporter Mark Sheldon, "They broke a few postseason bubbles."
Last week: NR (0)

Others receiving votes: None. Dropped out: Marlins (No. 12)

Key:

Moving up
from last week
Moving down
from last week
Same rank
as last week
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.