With six weeks left in the MLB season, the race for the second Wild Card in the American League looks like it could come down to the last day of the season. The Minnesota Twins and LA Angels are tied for that spot entering Monday ‘s action. There are six other teams that are a combined five games back of that last playoff spot. With so many teams tightly bunched, it might be hard to see who has the best chance to come out of that pack. However, two teams are well-positioned to battle it out for that last ticket to October.
The current co-leading Twins and the Kansas City Royals, who are just 1.5 out of the second Wild Card spot, are the two teams best positioned to come away with that last playoff spot because of what division they play in. With the unbalanced schedule, you play your division rivals 19 times a year. Kansas City and Minnesota should get a lot of games down the stretch against the rebuilding White Sox and Tigers. The Royals still play the two division bottom feeders 12 times in 2017. Minnesota, on the other hand, has 15 combined games against Chicago and Detroit, still to play this season.
The teams in the AL East like Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Toronto who all are on the outskirts of the race will not be able to make up ground because they undoubtedly have games against the division-leading Red Sox and Wild Card-leading Yankees remaining. The kind of sustained winning streak that these three teams would need to make the playoffs seems unlikely because of the division-heavy schedule in September.
The Wild Card contenders in the AL West like the LA Angels, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers will be hurt by having to face the league-leading Houston Astros frequently down the stretch
The fight for the fifth playoff spot in the AL could be decided by geography, not by who the best team is. Is that fair?