Ranking Each Non-Contending MLB Team by 'Spoiler Factor'
With less than a month left to go in the MLB season, many teams are still fighting it out for the playoffs.
While some teams are locks to win their division, others know the next four weeks will determine what their Octobers are going to look like.
Then there are others who know that come Oct. 1, they're going to be at home watching the playoffs.
But for many of them, they can have a say at who will also be watching the playoffs from home.
Here's a look at each non-contending team and where they rank in spoil factor for the MLB postseason.
14. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies come in with the lowest ranking of the non-contenders when it comes to spoiling it for other teams.
They are currently in the midst of a three-game series with the Braves, have a three-game series at Washington next weekend and end the season at Atlanta for four games.
Other than that, the Padres, Marlins and Mets are on the Phillies' schedule.
The only thing the Phillies may spoil is the Braves' home-field advantage through the first two rounds, but other than that, not much can happen because of them.
13. New York Mets
The New York Mets have the chance to officially remove Washington from the playoff picture next week during a four-game series.
A three-game series against the Reds that begins the final week of the year could also be huge when it comes to who takes the NL Central.
Outside of that, the Marlins, Giants, Phillies and Brewers are on the schedule.
Not too much of a spoil factor here except for the Cincinnati series.
12. Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox have a few big series coming up.
They're currently in the midst of a three-game series with Baltimore, with a chance to really hurt the Orioles in the wild card. Then they have the Tigers and Indians back-to-back.
Detroit is currently fighting with Boston for home-field advantage, so that series is huge since the Tigers are currently four games back.
Then the following series with the Indians could be the make-or-break series for Cleveland. If they don't take at least three of the four games, Cleveland can all but kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. The White Sox also have another three-game series with the Tigers and a two-game tilt with the Indians near the end, but by that time, those races should be figured out.
11. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants sit just outside the top 10 because they will have a small effect on the race for home field in the National League. With seven games against the Dodgers, the Giants can really help the Braves out by taking four or five of those games.
San Francisco also has three games against the Yankees, who are fighting for the AL wild card.
With that series being on the second-to-last weekend of the season, San Francisco has the chance to crush New York's hopes before it gets to the final week.
10. Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins have a few chances to make a difference in the playoff races.
Their biggest chances comes at the beginning of next week in a four-game series with the Braves. With the Braves and Dodgers battling for home-field advantage, neither can afford many losses. If Miami can at least split the series, L.A. fans will be happy.
Then, at the end of the year, the Marlins will get a visit from the Tigers. Home-field advantage in the AL may be decided by then, but there's a chance Detroit could still be fighting for it.
If they do, don't be surprised to see Miami throw all of its young studs on the mound to test the Tigers right before the playoffs.
9. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers will get 10 chances to affect the race in the NL Central. They have six games against the Cardinals and three games against the Reds.
From the looks of things, the NL Central will be represented by three teams, which means two of them would be playing in the wild-card game. As we saw in last year's NL game, that's not exactly the best news.
So, you can expect the three NL Central teams to battle it out over the next four weeks to ensure it's not them in that game.
The Brewers also have a three-game series at home against the Braves to begin the season's final week. If the Braves are still locked in a battle for home-field advantage, expect this series to be an interesting one.
8. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are the only team that will see both the Braves and Dodgers in the final month. With three games against each, it will be a good chance for them to affect home field in the NL.
The Padres also have a four-game series with the Pirates, which could go a long way in determining the Pirates' chances at winning the NL Central.
Outside of that, they do have a four-game series with Arizona to start the season's final week, but with the way the NL Central teams are currently playing, Arizona will likely be out of the race by then.
7. Houston Astros
The Houston Astros will get their chance to make a difference in the playoff race as well.
They're currently in a series with Oakland, which has already seen its first two games split.
After series with the Mariners and Angels, the Astros close out the season with the Reds, Indians, Rangers and Yankees. With that schedule, the Astros have the potential to affect four different races.
They can affect the NL Central by taking one or two games from the Reds and can eliminate the Indians with at least a split. They can also give Oakland an advantage in the AL West by taking one or two games from the Angels, and if the Yankees are still in the hunt during the last weekend, they can crush their hopes and dreams.
Of course, I do remember this is the Astros I'm talking about. But, one can dream of a perfect scenario to see baseball's worst team crush the dreams of so many.
6. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies will have a small say in the NL Central crown when the Cardinals come to town for four games late in the year.
Other than that, they close the season with the Red Sox and Dodgers, giving them a chance to affect home-field advantage in both leagues to close the season.
While it may not come down to the final weekend in determining home field, with great hitting, the Rockies could shake the confidence of the starters of those playoff teams.
5. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners will have a chance to do some damage as well late in the season.
They're currently in the middle of a series with the Rays, thus getting a chance to affect the wild-card race. They will also visit St. Louis next weekend, followed by a trip to Detroit.
That road trip will give the Mariners a chance to do some damage, especially with the young pitching they have.
Finally, they close with the A's, who are in the midst of another battle with the Rangers atop the AL West. That division could be the one division that once again comes down to the final day. As it stands right now, the A's could see Felix Hernandez or Taijuan Walker on that final day.
Would that be interesting if it came down to that?
4. Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins get a bunch of playoff contenders to end the year.
They'll face the A's seven times, Rays and Tigers three times and the Indians four times. Needless to say, they're going to have an effect on a lot of AL teams.
The back-to-back series with the A's and Rays start on Tuesday, but those are still early enough in the month that both teams could recover if they end up losing the series.
However, the final week kicks off with a three-game series against the Tigers. That could be Detroit's last hope for home-field advantage, meaning they could throw out all the stops.
A four-game series to end the year against Cleveland likely won't matter as I think the Indians will be eliminated from contention by then.
3. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays earn this position simply because they close the season with three-game series against the Orioles and Rays. The Blue Jays could be key in determining who goes to the playoffs and who stays home.
They also have the Orioles next weekend, followed by the Yankees and Red Sox.
While the Blue Jays had all the expectations in the world to begin the season, they disappointed. However, they could get the last laugh on some of those teams and force them to stay at home for the playoffs as well.
2. Los Angeles Angels
I originally didn't have the Los Angeles Angels this high, but I took a look at their schedule one more time and realized they are going to play a major role in the AL West.
Ten of their final 13 games have the Angels playing the Rangers or the A's (6 with Oakland). That means, for two teams battling it out for the right to not have to play in the wild-card game, the Angels are going to be watched like hawks.
Last year, the battle for the AL West came down to the final day. This year could be the same, except it won't be the A's and Rangers playing. It will be the Angels and Rangers, with the Angels trying to play the spoiler role.
1. Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs take the top spot because they're going to get a lot of opportunities to affect the outcome of NL races.
Other than six games with the Brewers, the Cubs have 15 games with contenders.
Next week they'll play the Reds and Pirates, with both looking for inside positioning in the NL Central. The Braves will come to town soon afterwards, giving Chicago a chance to affect home-field advantage in the NL.
Finally, Chicago ends the year with Pittsburgh and St. Louis. By that time, the NL Central could come down to those final games. And the Cubs could have a say in it all.
And for Cubs fans, even though there's the disappointment of missing the playoffs (yet again), the chance to force the Cardinals into the wild-card game would bring at least a smile to their faces.