Photos courtesy of mlb.com
By: Ross Sutton
When I was looking at the standings today, one thing really stood out to me; there is an incredible difference in the amount of teams that are in the hunt in each of the two leagues, the American League and the National League. I realize there is still a lot of baseball left to be played, but in the American League, no team is within seven games of EITHER of the two wild card spots. On the other hand, in the National League, there are SEVEN teams that are within seven games of the second wild card spot. The two pictures above really tell a lot about the landscape of the playoff picture in each league.
This could be a bit premature, but I think the playoff teams from the A.L. have already been decided. The only team from the A.L. that I think could have a chance to grab one of the wild card spot would be the Angels, but recently, the Angels have completely fallen out of the playoff picture and even though Trout is still playing at an elite level (that’s an understatement), Ohtani looks like he may have pitched his last inning for the Angels this season as he might need Tommy John surgery for his injured UCL. I think this means that this probably won’t be the year for the Angels unless they can pull off a couple of blockbuster trades for some help in their starting rotation. Not only have the Angels not played well, but the Mariners have come seemingly out of nowhere to take control of the division. Then when you consider the fact that the Angels also have to play the Astros a lot during the season, I don’t see Trout getting to the playoffs this year. Then, in the A.L. Central, the Indians have a complete cakewalk into the playoffs, as they are playing in the worst division in baseball. The A.L. East will be interesting because winning the division is so important for the Yankees and Red Sox in order to avoid a one-game playoff, but other than that, the Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles have no chance to make the playoffs.
The National League is a completely different story, as there are still divisions up for grabs and no team has a very big lead for a wild card spot. There are only three teams in the entire league that probably do not have a chance at a playoff spot (Mets, Marlins, Reds). The Braves and Nationals look like they will be battling over the N.L. East for a while with the Phillies behind them trying to get back in the playoff picture as a wild card team. The N.L. Central is an extremely crowded division as the Brewers and Cubs have the two best records in the National League, and the Cardinals are just a game and a half back of the second wild card spot. Pittsburgh might not have a great chance at clinching a playoff spot in 2018, but they could still make a push as they currently sit just five and a half games back of a wild card spot. The N.L. West is even more crowded if you can believe that, as the D-backs are 37-30 and are two games ahead of the Dodgers, but are only five and a half games ahead of the Padres, who are in last place in the division. Unfortunately though for the Padres, they will probably need to have a bit of a miracle run and win their division in order to make it to the playoffs, as they have the fourth worst record in the N.L. and are four games below .500. All of this makes for a very strange year, as the American League looks to have the three best teams (Astros, Yankees, Red Sox) in the league, with a couple a very competitive wild card teams while on the other hand, the National League is wide open and a bunch of teams have a shot at the pennant.
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