Predicting the Five American League Playoff Teams
A quick glace at the MLB standings right now will show you that each team has around 40 games remaining, meaning there is only a quarter of the season left and it’s crunch time. While some results are easy to predict, such as the Red Sox winning the AL East (spoilers), there are still some heated races going on, especially in the National League, which are too close to call. Without further adieu, here are my predictions of the five teams who will make it to the postseason from the American League!
AL East Champs: Boston Red Sox
Again, this isn’t a pick that will surprise anyone. I’m not going out on a limb or anything, but there is something to be said about just how good this team has been this season. The 2001 Seattle Mariners and 1906 Chicago Cubs are tied for most wins in the regular season by one team (116), and these Red Sox are only one game off the pace. They could definitely get there if they keep up this torrid pace, and with their lineup and pitching both exceptional, there is no reason to think they can’t get there. Unfortunately for them, history is not on the side of those who win so many games in the regular season. Albeit a small sample size in just two teams, neither won the World Series the year they reached 116 wins.
AL Central Champs: Cleveland Indians
Keeping with chalk here, the Indians will win the Central. They have a 12 game lead on the second-place Twins. Cleveland has the experience to make a deep postseason run, but they have been feasting on weak competition within their division all year, so it will be interesting to see how they fare in October.
AL West Champs: Houston Astros
Hey, I didn’t say this is a hot-take article. This one is the closest division race in the American League by a mile. The Astros will get the nod from me, though, and not just because they are the defending World Series Champions. They are absolutely stacked everywhere. The hitting, anchored by perennial MVP candidate, Jose Altuve, has the fourth-most runs scored in the MLB. The starting pitching is arguably the best all-around staff we’ve seen since the 1990’s Braves. Dallas Keuchel, who won the Cy Young award in 2015, is their FOURTH option. That’s just pure filth on a nightly basis. Oh, and their bullpen, which people consider their weakness, has the best bullpen ERA in the majors. They’ve been slumping of late, but I expect them to pick right back up and win the division comfortably by four or five games.
First Wildcard: New York Yankees
I’ll be the first to admit that I did not buy into the hype for these guys at the beginning of the year. They’ve proved me wrong, and if they were in any other division, they would be in first place right now. They just happen to be 10.5 games behind what is becoming a historically-great team. They are also three games ahead of Oakland in the wildcard chase, and I believe they’ll stay there. They don’t have the strongest starting pitching, but it’s still top-half of the league in ERA. That, combined with a super bullpen that just got better, and a lineup that has scored the second-most runs in the league will propel them to host the AL Wildcard game in the beginning of October.
Second Wild Card: Oakland Athletics
This came down to a decision between the A’s and the Mariners. Honestly, I think the more talented team resides in Seattle, but the A’s just seem to have that weird “Moneyball Magic” to them that makes them hard to pick against. Their starting pitching is middle of the pack in ERA, but they make up for that by having a strong bullpen (top five in ERA) and a top-ten run-scoring offense. Those factors will get them the ticket on the plane to New York to play the Yankees in the one-game wildcard playoff.
Just missing the cut: Seattle Mariners
There is really only one team not listed above that has the potential to make it in, and that is the Seattle Mariners. I think this is a very talented team who peaked too early in the season. With the A’s looking so good, along with an untimely injury sustained by their ace, James Paxton, will ultimately leave them on the outside looking in.
Sorry if you clicked this article wanting some blazing hot take, but I don’t think there is much reason to suggest that the American League standings will look any different in October than they do now. Again, look for my NL preview coming out soon if you’re looking for a bit of a shake up.
Let me know if you think there is any reason to suggest any of these predictions are wrong! (I will be putting up National League predictions soon, so look for that in the next few days!)