Predicting The MLB Playoff Spots
We’ve entered the home stretch of the MLB season, and that means that, at least to some extent, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. Of course, these pennant races can come down to the last day or two (or even push to 1-game playoffs following the planned regular season). But given the standings, which you can view at ESPN, in addition to recent trends and upcoming schedules, here’s our best guess at which teams grab the playoff spots in October.
NL East – This one is all but clinched by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves’ .599 winning percentage as of September 8th is the best in the NL, and with a 12-game lead over the 2nd place Nationals one’s a done deal. NL Central – This one’s tight, but we’re giving the nod to the St. Louis Cardinals. Their slim lead over the Pirates should hold, given that with the exception of 3 home games against the Nationals, their entire remaining schedule is against sub-.500 clubs.
NL West – The LA Dodgers have an 11-game lead, one of the best records in baseball, and are listed at the sports exchange as runaway favorites to win the World Series. There’s virtually no chance they blow the division lead.
Wildcard #1 – The Pittsburgh Pirates have a shot at the NL Central, and should at least get the 1st wildcard. 6 of the final 9 games are against Cincinnati, which will be a pivotal stretch.
Wildcard #2 – It seems likely both wildcards will come out of the Central, so we’re giving this slot to the Cincinnati Reds. As of now it’s a toss-up between the Reds and Pirates, but both should make the playoffs.
AL East – For all the parity in this division, the Boston Red Sox have built up a sizeable 8-game lead, as of September 8th. Count the Bosox in for a division crown.
AL Central – Cleveland isn’t out of the picture, but we’ll give this one to the Detroit Tigers. They’ve been in command of the division for some time now, boast the best offense in baseball, and have only 3 games remaining against teams over .500.
AL West – Arguably the tightest division in baseball, we’ll give the nod here to the Texas Rangers, currently 1.5 games back of the A’s. The Rangers still have 3 home games with the A’s, and finish the season with 7 straight home games against Houston and the Angels, which should be an easy stretch.
Wildcard #1 – Whichever team comes up short in the West will likely take the 1st Wildcard, so we’ll peg the Oakland Athletics.
Wildcard #2 – This could go to Baltimore, Tampa or New York, but we’re giving the nod to the New York Yankees.. They’re bruised and battered, but have somehow managed to climb back into the race, and it’s starting to seem inevitable that they’ll claw their way in.