All but one American League team, the Texas Rangers, has a stranglehold on a postseason berth and below we review the murky playoff picture and the MLB odds with only weeks left in the regular season.
Not only is there not a clear cut division winner in the midst but four of five teams could capture that crown while the others vie for a wildcard entry. The Boston Red Sox appear to have the slight edge in both their regular season record as well as in the eyes of the MLB odds makers with a +175 return at Heritage. However, 5Dimes is going rogue and posting them as the third MLB pick in the division with generous +200 odds behind Toronto (+165) and Baltimore (+175) with New York at a whopping (+2050).
There are still weeks to play in the season and approximately 18 games left to decide which AL East club will emerge victoriously. Boston has nothing but divisional opponents left on their schedule and the opportunity to go from worst to first is theirs to claim or squander. Toronto, Baltimore, and New York also have dates with each other down the stretch so this will be a fascinating home stretch in the East.
The Cleveland Indians hold a six game lead on their nearest rival Detroit and will do battle with not only the Tigers but Chicago (White Sox) and Kansas City. Terry Francona's crew should be up to the challenge and the oddsmakers are making them prohibitive favorites to win the Central, posting MLB odds on Cleveland anywhere from -800 at BetOnline to -2000 at Bovada.
The rest of the division is comprised of two contenders (Tigers and Royals) with two pretenders (White Sox and Twins). The defending champion Royals will have a tough time seeing the postseason again this season and with each passing loss, those hopes dim even further.
Unless the Texas Rangers suffer a historic collapse you can pencil them in as your AL West champions for the 2016 campaign. The suddenly surging Seattle Mariners are making a case for a wildcard spot but their nearest divisional rivals, the Houston Astros, may have something to say about that. The updated MLB odds have the Rangers a mortal lock at BetOnline as -4000 favorites to claim the West while Seattle and Houston jockey for the next spot.
The Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics are merely playing the role of spoiler in this one and both will get the chance to do so as the season grinds to a halt. LA will finish a series with Seattle and then travel for three at Arlington where they will meet Texas and four at Houston while finishing up against those same Astros with a three-game set in Anaheim.
Division Winners and Wildcard Predictions
With all the divisional games set for September and early October, there is a myriad of scenarios that could occur. Now that I have that qualifier out of the way and a crutch to lean on in the event, as improbable as it might be, that I am wrong I will peer into my crystal ball and deliver to you my American League division winners as well as those two wildcard entries. Without further ado, here we go:
AL East – Boston Red Sox
AL Central – Cleveland Indians
AL West – Texas Rangers
Wildcard #1 – Baltimore Orioles (the O's have eight games left with division cellar dwellers Tampa Bay and Arizona, both at Camden Yards)
Wildcard #2 – Detroit Tigers (the Tigers have five games remaining with the AL Central bottom feeders Minnesota Twins and wrap the season up with three games against the worst team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves).