With approximately 23 games remaining in the regular season, a trio of second-place teams including the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s, and Tampa Bay Rays are fighting for the final two AL Wild Card spots.
Although the Boston Red Sox are a serious long shot at advancing to the postseason, the defending champions are technically still alive in the overall hunt. The Red Sox are only 10 games over .500, but just 5.5 games behind in the Wild Card chase.
AL WILD CARD HUNT:
Tampa 82-59 (21 games remaining)
Oakland 79-58 (25 games)
Cleveland 80-59 (23 games)
Boston 74-64 (24 games)
The NY Yankees, Houston Astros, and Minnesota Twins are virtual locks to win their respective divisions in the American League. According to Will Hill, the Houston Astros and their insane rotation are the overall favorite to win the World Series at 2/1 odds. The NY Yankees are the other favorite from the American League at 9/2 odds. The Minnesota Twins are 16/1 odds to win the title this year.
Out of all the Wild Card bubble teams, the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays have the similar numbers at 25/1 odds to win the World Series. The Oakland A’s are 33/1 odds, while the defending champs out of Boston are 50/1 odds.
No Fans, But Still a Shot
Tampa Bay holds the top spot in the AL Wild Card, but the Rays have the fewest games remaining. Every single game counts at this juncture, so there’s margin for error.
According to Fan Graphs, the Rays are a 75 percent chance to advance to the postseason.
The Rays boast one of the worst attendance records in the major leagues even though they have a team that’s on the cusp of the postseason. The Rays have a great young player with Austin Meadows (.280, 26 home runs, 73 RBI). Tampa doesn’t spend money on free agents, but they are not in full-blown tanking mode like the Miami Marlins or Detroit Tigers, which is why those fans are refusing to cheer on their team. Perhaps one last playoff push might get the fan base fired up before MLB suits decide to pull the plug on pro baseball on the Gulf side of the Florida coast.
Bay Area Shot
Oakland is currently in the second spot in the AL Wild Card with the Cleveland Indians nipping at their heels. The A’s went 12-6 over the last three weeks that included a sweep of the first-place NY Yankees in Oakland. They also took three out of four games against the AL West leading Houston Astros.
The A’s have been in the thick of the AL Wild Card race in the second half of the season. Oakland demonstrated they have the skills to compete with the best of the best in the American League. The modern version of the Bash Brothers includes 84 combined home runs among Matt Chapman, Marcus Semein and Matt Olson.
Oakland has the benefit of the most games remaining out of the bubble teams. According to Fan Graphs, the As have a 57 percent shot at a Wild Card berth.
What a difference a couple of weeks make. The Indians went on a heater after the All-Star break and pulled the trigger on a huge trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Cincy Reds for Yasiel Puig. Cleveland cooled off considerably in the last three weeks with an 8-12 record.
The Tribe dropped four out of their last five games including a three-game sweep in Tampa Bay last weekend.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor has hits in 22 of his last 25 games. He’s smashed home runs in 6 out of his last 11 games.
Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco returned to the rotation after being treated for leukemia. He lost to the White Sox, but the team knows their “Cookie Man” will be a huge boost in the club house down the stretch.
According to Fan Graphs, Terry Francona’s squad has a 62 percent chance to clinch a Wild Card spot.