And then there was one.
The marathon that is MLB's six-month regular season is down to its final leg, with 15 teams sprinting toward the finish line that has become visible on the horizon.
Five months down, one to go. For those teams that fancy themselves contenders, the playoffs start today. Regardless of their place in the standings, every game left on the schedule has become a must-win for these clubs.
Some are hanging on by a thread, knowing that their next loss might be the one that puts the final nail in their coffin. Others are looking for more breathing room and the ability to rest key players down the stretch to ensure they are fresh—and healthy—for the playoffs.
For our purposes, teams must be within five games of a playoff spot to qualify as a contender, and we'll look at the following criteria as we determine each team's playoff odds:
- Remaining schedule
- Recent performance
- Key players that have recently (or are expected to) return from injury
- Current place in the standings
Note, all three criteria are not created equal, and significant importance is being placed upon a team's remaining schedule. After all, a team can only control what's in front of them, not what has already transpired.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the odds for each contender playing meaningful October baseball as we enter the season's final month. Teams are listed in order of least likely to most likely.