Between the three National League division leaders who were least expected—at least at the start of the year—to be at the top heading into mid-August, which team is most likely to hang on and earn a much needed (or earned, depending on how you look at it) spot in postseason play?
The teams in discussion include the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and the Cincinnati Reds—and the biggest question is which of those three will hang on as the regular season comes to a close in early October?
Honestly, the team most likely to hang on would be the Padres—with a 5.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants and a 10.5 game lead over the Colorado Rockies as of Wednesday afternoon, August 18; but don’t be shocked if the Braves (2.5 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies) and/or the Reds (2.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals) make the postseason as well.
Reasons as to why the path is the easiest for San Diego include everything from weaker opponents to an easier schedule down the stretch (we‘ll discuss five keys shortly), but the point is plain and simple: If asked which team is most likely to maintain their current division lead through the conclusion of the regular season, the answer is the Padres.
Here are five key factors as to why San Diego will punch their tickets to postseason play.