With Labor Day here on Sept. 2, baseball has finally reached the golden months of September and October. But while September is supposed to be the month where the playoff races go down to the wire, it doesn’t look like there’s much to settle -- not when it comes to deciding the 10 playoff teams. However, those 10 likely teams are largely bunched together, which could make October a bloodbath.
As of Sept. 2, the top 10 teams in baseball are all projected to make the postseason. This isn’t one of those seasons where a team will squeak in with 85 wins, just for winning a very poor division. There is a clear separation between the best teams and the pretenders this year, even if the best haven’t separated from each other yet.
This also isn’t one of those seasons where there is one overwhelming powerhouse several games above the rest. The Atlanta Braves have some slight separation as the best team in baseball, but only by two games over the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. Beyond that, while the Dodgers and Red Sox are tied for the second best record, the difference between them and the eighth best team -- the Oakland Athletics -- is only three games.
The National League playoff race is largely settled, as the Braves and Dodgers are overwhelming their divisions and the wild card playoff game will almost certainly be between the second and third place teams in the NL Central -- whoever they are. As for the American League, the Detroit Tigers seem safe in the Central, while the wild card game should be between the second place teams in the West and East -- whoever they are.
The only three baseball teams other than the top 10 who have some playoff hopes are the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, who are all three or more games behind for the AL’s second wild card. That doesn’t seem like a huge deficit, especially with the Tampa Bay Rays on a losing streak, yet these three have been too inconsistent all year to be among the 10 elite.
Here is a list of the 10 teams that look like the safest bet to keep playing in October, and how close together they are -- which could make this one of the tightest postseasons in recent memory.