2017 Playoff Odds for Every MLB Team at the Three-Quarter Mark
This will come as news to no one, but the MLB season is long.
We're entering the stretch run of the 162-game slog when legitimate contenders gain separation and stake their October claims.
As we arrive at baseball's three-quarter mark, let's take stock of every franchise and assess their postseason odds, based on the current standings, the latest injury news and a dollop of gut feeling.
We'll begin, unfortunately yet inevitably, with the franchises whose October hopes reside somewhere between slim and none.
The Slim-to-None Club
No club has been mathematically eliminated. From a Lloyd Christmas "so you're telling me there's a chance" (from Dumb and Dumber) vantage point, everyone's a playoff hopeful.
Back on planet reality, however, the following teams have a statistically insignificant chance of reaching the postseason:
- Atlanta Braves
- Cincinnati Reds
- Chicago White Sox
- Detroit Tigers
- New York Mets
- Oakland Athletics
- Philadelphia Phillies
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
Sorry fans. Start thinking about the 2018 amateur draft—and better luck next year.
At 66-53, the Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the National League's top wild-card spot and own the Senior Circuit's third-best run differential at plus-105.
They've got a legitimate ace in resurgent right-hander Zack Greinke and an MVP candidate in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Catching the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers is unrealistic, and there are questions in the back end of the bullpen, where closer Fernando Rodney has wobbled.
Overall, though, these Snakes are a smart pick to slither into October.
The Baltimore Orioles have gone an even 5-5 in their last 10. At 59-61, they're hanging around the fringe of the muddled American League wild-card chase.
They also have a minus-43 run differential and the fourth-worst team ERA in baseball.
There's a slim chance the O's could sneak into the postseason, but there's a far greater chance they'll regret not being sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox sit at 68-51 with a 4.5-game cushion in the AL East, and ace Chris Sale is getting MVP chatter.
Rookie call-up Rafael Devers, meanwhile, has seemingly addressed the team's glaring season-long weakness at third base.
The offense, which ranks 17th in baseball in OPS, won't blow you away. Left-hander David Price remains an overpaid injury-prone enigma.
Boston may not have enough for a World Series run, but a second straight division title or at least a postseason ticket is virtually assured.
After burying the billy goat in 2016, the Chicago Cubs have confounded this season.
They scuffled in the first half and spent much of it looking up at the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. They're in first place now at 62-56 but hold a slim 1.5-game lead over the surging St. Louis Cardinals and those pesky Brewers.
Inconsistent starting pitching and regression from key offensive cogs such as outfielder Kyle Schwarber and super-utilityman Ben Zobrist have hurt the cause, as did the recent hamstring injury to emerging franchise catcher Willson Contreras.
The Cubs need to coalesce if they're going to repeat. For now, though, they're at least in line for another run.
The Cleveland Indians sent a clear message about their intentions when they acquired slugger Jay Bruce from the New York Mets in a post-waiver trade.
This club is focused on busting baseball's longest active title drought.
"I just said, 'What's up, bro. How you doing?'" franchise shortstop Francisco Lindor said of Bruce's arrival, per Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. "I welcomed him. He's happy to be here. He's a good player, but he's a better teammate. I told him, 'Enjoy it because it's going to be fun.'"
At 65-52, the Tribe have the worst record of any AL division leader, but they hold a six-game lead over both the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins. The fun, it seems, will carry into October.
Like Arizona, the Colorado Rockies won't catch the runaway Dodgers in the NL West. Also like the D-backs, they hold a tie for NL's top wild-card slot.
Predictably, Colorado ranks third in the game in runs scored thanks in part to the Coors Field bump. They've also pitched, however, and own the eighth-best road ERA in baseball.
Losing five of their last seven isn't a great look, but with third baseman Nolan Arenado putting together an MVP candidacy and the supporting cast doing its job, these Rox are solid.
The Houston Astros didn't make a big-ticket move before the non-waiver trade deadline, to the consternation of ace Dallas Keuchel. However, they have "reignited" discussions with the Tigers over right-hander Justin Verlander, per FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.
Even if they don't add Verlander, the 'Stros are as close to a postseason lock as you'll find.
Their plus-152 run differential is tops in the AL, as is the 12.5-game lead they hold in the AL West.
Whether they can win the first title in franchise history is an open question, especially considering the pitching staff has posted a 5.19 ERA since the All-Star break. Flawed or not, though, this team is playoff-bound.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals eschewed a deadline sell-off and opted to make one more run with their core of pending free agents.
At 60-59, they're within striking distance of a wild-card berth. They also play the division-leading Indians six times before the end of August, which could be a make-or-break stretch.
Despite their recent postseason pedigree, the Royals are no sure thing in a crowded AL wild-card field, though they did beef up at the deadline by adding outfielder and old friend Melky Cabrera from the Chicago White Sox.
At the very least, K.C. fans will get to watch third baseman Mike Moustakas break the team's ridiculously longstanding franchise single-season home run record of 36, set by Steve Balboni in 1985. Entering play Tuesday, Moustakas had 34 homers.
Los Angeles Angels
If the season ended Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels would be the AL's second wild-card team.
That's no small feat for a club with a minus-four run differential, a suspect starting rotation and few consistent offensive performers aside from shortstop Andrelton Simmons and AL MVP Mike Trout.
The Angels' shallow farm system prevented them from making any significant trade upgrades. They'll have to win with the group they have.
It's tenuous, but things appear to be breaking right for the Halos.
As Will Leitch of Sports on Earth noted: "It is likely this lunatic year is the best chance they have left to give Trout the postseason showcase he so richly deserves."
Los Angeles Dodgers
When it comes to the Los Angeles Dodgers' chances of winning their first pennant and World Series since 1988, it's all about the health of ace Clayton Kershaw's balky back.
When it comes to their chances of making the playoffs, it's all over but the shouting.
At 83-34, the Dodgers have a chance to break the all-time single-season wins record of 116 shared by the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners.
Whether or not they reach that milestone, they will play into October barring a rip in the space-time continuum somehow caused by Tommy Lasorda.
The protracted drama surrounding polarizing owner Jeffrey Loria's sale of the Miami Marlins has finally come to an end, with the news that a group led by future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter will buy the club, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
That could be good for the future in South Beach. In the present, the Marlins sit at 57-61, 14.5 games out of first in the NL East and 8.5 games off the wild-card pace.
A torrid streak could technically put them in contention, but not even the magic mojo of the Yankee Captain is likely to make that happen.
It was a charmed first half for the Milwaukee Brewers, who blossomed ahead of schedule and spent large stretches in first place in the NL Central.
The Brew Crew have returned to Earth since the All-Star break, but they've won three straight and sit just 1.5 games back of Cubs in a tie for second place with St. Louis.
Milwaukee's success is predicated partly on a combination of power and speed. They're tied with L.A. for the third-most homers in the NL and lead the Senior Circuit in stolen bases.
Seven games against the Cubs in September will likely seal the Brewers' fate one way or the other. The prudent bet is they'll stay home come October, but this club has defied expectations from the word go.
Like the Brewers, the Minnesota Twins have turned what was supposed to be a rebuilding year into a surprise postseason push.
After winning seven of their last 10, the Twinkies sit at 59-58, just a half-game off the wild-card pace. They've also got an ugly minus-57 run differential that's the fourth-worst in the AL.
There are reasons to be hopeful, including the inspiring rise of budding star Miguel Sano. And the AL wild-card race is wide-open enough to allow for myriad possibilities.
This probably isn't the Twins' year to get back to the postseason, but after a 103-loss campaign in 2016, it's already an unequivocal success.
New York Yankees
Despite dropping four straight games at the outset of August and slogging along since, the Yankees hold the AL's top wild-card position.
Rookie masher Aaron Judge remains mired in a slump (.182 BA, 2 HR in 13 August games), but right-hander and trade-deadline cavalryman Sonny Gray picked up his first Yankees win Tuesday.
The Red Sox are the favorites to win the AL East, but these Yanks appear equipped for a wild-card run. They rank second in the American League in runs scored and third in ERA.
If they can host the game at Yankee Stadium with Gray on the hill and Judge rediscovers his power stroke, who knows?
The Pittsburgh Pirates rank 27th in runs scored and own a minus-40 run differential. It's a wonder they're within shouting distance of .500.
And yet, at 58-61, the Bucs are alive in both the NL Central and NL wild-card races.
Alive doesn't mean thriving, however. After failing to cash in chips such as former MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen at the deadline, the Pirates are merely treading water.
After a recent three-game skid, they're looking up at three teams in their own division, with only the lowly Cincinnati Reds cushioning them from last place.
After dropping six of their last 10, the Seattle Mariners have slipped behind the Angels for third place in the AL West.
With James Paxton and ace Felix Hernandez both out of the rotation due to injuries and the offense scuffling of late, the M's have their work cut out.
Add them to a long list of flawed-yet-viable contenders scuffling for the Junior Circuit's second wild-card slot.
St. Louis Cardinals
A recent, feline-assisted eight-game winning streak propelled the Cardinals into the NL Central race.
They've dropped a couple in a row but are still just 1.5 games behind the archrival Cubbies. Their lineup ranks 16th in the game in runs scored, but the pitching staff boasts the third-best ERA in the NL.
More than anything, these Cards are accustomed to winning. St. Louis has made the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.
That's not necessarily predictive, but it indicates a certain been-there-done-that pedigree.
Plus, there's the rally cat.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have lost seven of their last 10 and slipped below .500 at 60-61.
Their starting pitchers are tied for the second-best ERA in the AL, and they've clubbed the fifth-most home runs in the Junior Circuit.
They're a small-market upstart swimming with the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox, though, and appear destined for a respectable but ultimately fruitless third-place finish out East.
The Texas Rangers were sellers at the deadline, shipping ace right-hander Yu Darvish to the Dodgers in an 11th-hour deal.
At 58-60, they aren't buried in the American League wild-card chase, and they're the only team other than Houston with a positive run differential (plus-20) in the AL West.
A shocking playoff push is highly unlikely, however, meaning third baseman Adrian Beltre's Hall of Fame-worthy ascent to the 3,000-hit club will be the coolest story of 2017 in Arlington.
Toronto Blue Jays
After making two consecutive postseason appearances, the Toronto Blue Jays are grounded in the AL East basement at 57-62.
Yeah, they've won six of 10 and are still technically within striking distance. Their minus-79 run differential, however, speaks to a club that's exactly where it should be.
Third baseman and former AL MVP Josh Donaldson has been on fire in August, hitting .364 with a 1.409 OPS. It probably won't be enough to nudge the Jays into October, but it could increase his trade value this winter.
Washington Nationals fans held their collective breath when Bryce Harper slipped on a rain-slicked first base in Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants and crumbled to the ground with a knee injury.
The prognosis of a bone bruise should allow the Nats faithful to exhale, though it could be some time before he returns to action.
As long as he's ready for the playoffs, Washington will be fine.
With a 14.5-game lead over the Marlins in the NL East, this club is a Dodgers-level lock to make the playoffs.
Whether they'll finally get out of the division series and challenge Los Angeles for NL supremacy depends on the health of Harper and others, including speedy Trea Turner and right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
Manager Dusty Baker told reporters:
"Injuries are part of the game. You don't like it, nobody gives you any excuses for it, they don't play any less hard against you, but I think in this scenario we all got to think positive that these guys will be back, like I said, like the cavalry, right on time. From watching all the war movies and cowboy movies, I believe in the cavalry."
All statistics and standings current as of Tuesday and courtesy of MLB.com.