We have 8 days until the end of the season. There are 4 spots already clinched, leaving 12 remaining spots to be taken. I define “in contention” by > 5% chance as rated by baseball-reference.com. According to that metric, there are 16 teams fighting for those 12 spots. It’s going to be crazy.
The division winners are just about set, with these teams winning their divisions:
• Braves (NL East)
• Cubs (NL Central)
• Dodgers (NL West)
• Rays (AL East)
• White Sox (AL Central)
• Athletics (AL West)
The only division that might flip is the AL Central, with the Twins being 3 games back from the White Sox. However, this seems ever unlikely as the White Sox have 8 games left and the Twins have 6 games left. Let’s look at what would need to happen for the AL Central to flip in favor of the Twins:
• The White Sox would need to go at least 3-5, with the Twins winning all 6 remaining games. If the White Sox go 3-5, the Twins couldn’t only win 5 games because the White Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Twins. Taking the Twins’ winning percentage, there is a 4.3% chance that the Twins would win out. And it also doesn’t seem very likely that this would happen, as the White Sox have a 4 game series against the Indians were they are very likely to split. That leaves 4 games in which the White Sox could also split. Going 4-4 would eliminate the Twins entirely, and even if they went 3-5 the Twins would have to win all of their remaining games.
The Crazy National League
While the American League is pretty locked up with that Twins – White Sox race being the closest, the National League is in complete mayhem. In the National League, there are 2 spots available for the Wild Card teams. There are 5 teams contending for those 2 spots. Let’s look at those teams:
• Phillies (27-25) — Remaining Schedule: 1 vs Blue Jays, 4 vs Nationals, 3 vs Rays
Beyond the Phillies, there are 3 teams tied for the number 2 spot. Let’s take a look at those 3 teams:
• Reds (26-27) — Remaining Schedule: 1 vs White Sox, 3 vs Brewers, 3 vs Twins
• Brewers (25-26) — Remaining Schedule: 1 vs Royals, 3 vs Reds, 5 vs Cardinals
• Giants (25-26) — Remaining Schedule: 1 vs Athletics, 4 vs Rockies, 4 vs Padres
The one other team in contention is the Mets who are currently 24-28. They have 1 game against the Braves, 3 against the Rays, and 4 against the Nationals to close the season.
In other words, 4 teams are fighting for 1 playoff spot. Let’s look at the tiebreakers for the 3 teams tied in the Wild Card spots, because it’s growing more and more likely that it will end in a tie at the end of the season:
• Head to Head record (if applicable)
• Intra-division record
• Final 20 division games
• If it’s still a tie, you keep moving back 1 game and see if both teams won. If one won and one lost, then the team who won would get the tiebreaker. It would keep moving back until the tie is broken.
• If it’s still a tie (it’s nearly impossible at this point), a coin flip would decide
Let’s go through the tie breakers. The Brewers and Reds have the first tiebreaker, making their 3 game series against each other ever more important. The Brewers need to take 2 out of 3 games to tie the season series, and the Reds also need to take 2 out of 3 games to insure they get the tie breaker.
The Reds are 19-18 vs NL Central opponents, while the Brewers are 16-16. The Brewers have 8 games remaining vs NL Central opponents, making a tie less likely after this. I suspect that the Brewers would win after this tiebreaker.
We haven’t even factored in the Giants yet. Their intra-division record currently sits at 15-17, but they still have 8 games against NL West opponents. That could easily change.
As I look at it closely, it seems very unlikely that the Mets will make the playoffs.
One last scenario before I give you my playoff predictions:
• The Giants, Brewers, and Reds tie at the end of the season.
The tiebreaker would then go to the team with the highest winning percentage in their division play. If two teams tie for winning percentage, then the two team tie breaker rule applies. We looked at that above with the Reds and the Brewers.
Wild Card Divisional Conference World Series
—————-| 1 Rays
8 Blue Jays |—————–|
—————-| | 1 Rays
4 Twins |——————–|
—————-| 5 Yankees | |
5 Yankees |—————–| |
—————-| | 1 Rays
3 Athletics | |
—————-| 3 Athletics | |
6 Astros |—————–| | |
—————-| | 3 Athletics | |
2 White Sox |———————| |
—————-| 2 White Sox | |
7 Indians |—————–| |
—————-| | 1 Dodgers
National League |
1 Dodgers |
—————-| 1 Dodgers |
8 Giants |—————–| |
—————-| | 1 Dodgers |
4 Padres |——————–| |
—————-| 4 Padres | | |
5 Phillies |—————–| | |
—————-| | 1 Dodgers |
3 Braves |
—————-| 3 Braves |
6 Cardinals |—————–| |
—————-| | 3 Braves |
2 Cubs |———————|
—————-| 2 Cubs |
7 Marlins |—————–|
We’ll see what happens in 8 days! Thank you for reading.