It’s almost October, and for baseball fans all over the world, that means one eye is turned toward the MLB Playoffs. For the most part, we’re starting to get a clear picture of who will be vying for the World Series in a little over a month – the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers are clear favorites to challenge for the NL crown, while the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox are ahead of the pack in the AL. The wildcard races, however, are quite tight in both the NL and the AL. Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up as of Tuesday morning, September 17.
National League Wildcard
The NL Wild Card standings are particularly interesting, because they are just about synonymous with the race for the NL Central division. Currently, the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals are tied for the lead in the division, with the Cincinnati Reds just behind. With the Washington Nationals 4.5 games back of the Reds, it certainly looks as if the NL Central will earn both wildcard slots, with the top team between Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati taking the Central, and the other two taking the wildcard slots.
So who’s going to end up taking the Central? Well, St. Louis currently has the lead and arguably the most favorable schedule from here on, so they’re likely the bet. The Nationals are within reach of sneaking into the conversation, but if we had to bet we’d say the Cardinals take the division, with the Pirates and Reds grabbing the wildcard spots.
American League Wildcard
This is a trickier picture, to be sure. The fact is, six teams are legitimately in the race. The Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays are tied atop the wildcard standings, and so have the top two spots locked up for now. The Cleveland Indians are one-half game game out, the Baltimore Orioles two games out, and the Yankees and Kansas City Royals sitting at 2.5 games behind. So who looks in position to take the two spots?
The AL East is where it all begins. Currently, the Rays are in the best position to finish 2nd in that division, which likely means a wildcard spot. In fact, at BetFair online – a dynamic sports betting site with up-to-date odds based on expert sports books – the Rays have by far the best odds to finish 2nd in the division. Meanwhile, it looks as if whoever takes the West between Texas and the Oakland A’s will leave the 2nd place team to the wildcard. So, as of now it looks as if the Rangers and Rays will take the two wildcard spots. However, the Yankees have continually shown us (despite this weekend’s sweep at Fenway) that they shouldn’t be counted out. We’re picking the Rangers to grab the 1st wildcard slot, and the Yankees to finish strong and steal the 2nd thanks to an easy schedule from here on out.