Now entering the final stretch before the postseason, several teams are jockying for playoff berths. Only the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and LA Dodgers have their playoff paths clearly laid out. Quite a few other teams are hoping for a good run to close out the regular season so they can join the World Series hunt. That said, let’s look at how the clubs that are still alive currently rank.
1. Boston Red Sox (87-58, 1st in AL East) – Boston is gelling at just the right time after scoring 57 runs in the last six games. Considering this feat came against the Tigers and Yankees, that’s quite an accomplishment. With Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) returning, there’s no reason to think that they won’t finish with the league’s top record.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (83-60, 1st in NL Central) – Not only do we think that St. Louis is tops in baseball’s toughest division, but they’re also playing the best out of any NL team period. Following a sweep of the Pirates, this team finishes with a very favorable schedule that includes 12 home games.
3. Atlanta Braves (86-57, 1st in NL East) – Atlanta may have lost the league’s best record over the weekend, but that’s certainly no cause for concern. They’re a virtual lock for the playoffs and are still in the pole position for home field advantage in the NL playoffs.
4. LA Dodgers (84-59, 1st in NL West) – With a 12-game lead on the Diamondbacks, LA shouldn’t have much trouble grabbing the NL West title. However, they can’t be too happy about being swept by the Reds and losing four straight overall.
5. Oakland A’s (83-60, 1st in AL West) – Unlike several of the teams listed above, Oakland is no lock to win their division title. However, we like them to build some distance from Texas thanks to six upcoming games against the Twins.
6. Cincinnati Reds (82-63, 3rd in NL Central) – Cincinnati’s postseason dreams are far from a sure thing. However, they are doing their best to control the situation by winning three of four at St. Louis, and sweeping the Dodgers.
7. Detroit Tigers (82-62, 1st in AL Central) – Detroit has played dismally over the past two series. In fact, this might be putting it lightly since they’ve lost five of their last six games. The past two contests against the Royals were just awful as they surrendered 36 runs! Hopefully staff ace Max Scherzer (19-3, 3.01 ERA) can stop the bleeding.
8. Texas Rangers (81-62, 2nd in AL West) – Texas has cause for concern after losing two straight series to the A’s and Angels. But all is not lost since they have an opportunity to get the AL West lead back in an upcoming home series against Oakland.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (82-61, 2nd in NL Central) – Pittsburgh is in a great position to grab a postseason berth this year. The only question is if they’ll be playing in a Wild Card game or grabbing a division title. If it’s going to be the latter, they’ll need to play better than they did recently, after being swept by St. Louis.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (78-64, 2nd in AL East) – The battle for the last Wild Card spot in the AL is going to be very competitive. Right now, Tampa Bay leads this race with a slim 1.5-game lead over Baltimore and Cleveland. But their postseason chances will be severely tested by Boston this week.
11. Baltimore Orioles (77-66, 3rd in AL East) – Can the Orioles hit enough homers to bat their way into the playoffs? A telling series against the Yankees this week will go a long ways towards answering this question.
12. Cleveland Indians (77-66, 2nd in AL Central) – The Indians will hope to take advantage of a favorable September schedule in their push for a Wild Card spot. Series against the Twins, White Sox and Astros should provide some wins. But what about the six games they play against the playoff-hungry Royals?
13. Kansas City Royals (75-69, 3rd in AL Central) – Don’t count Kansas City out of the postseason just yet. As just mentioned, they play Cleveland six times and also have Detroit and Texas coming up. This is certainly not an enviable schedule. But if KC can catch fire, maybe they’ll be a surprise postseason addition.
14. New York Yankees (76-68, 4th in AL East) – The last club with realistic playoff chances is the Yankees. Unfortunately, these chances just took a huge hit after Derek Jeter went down again with another ankle injury. Already dealing with a shaky bullpen, this injury definitely doesn’t help New York’s cause.