MLB Picks: American League Wild Card Landscape

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 7:14 PM GMT

It’s this simple, four teams and two spots for the wild card race. One of the four looks safe against the MLB odds and one other squad will win the AL Central, leaving two clubs battling for one playoff chair.

Today we will look at the prospects of all four teams to determine their chances to make the playoffs, see if they are worthy of MLB picks with just a dozen days remaining in the season. FanGraphs.com provides us the listed chances of each team to play beyond the regular season.

 

Oakland – 96.8% Chance to Make Playoffs
I am the first to admit sometimes I do not understand or always buy into mathematical probabilities like what FanGraphs presents since it has Oakland a near certainty to make the postseason.

With just 12 games remaining, the Athletics blowing a two-game lead does seem improbable to miss the playoffs all together. However, Oakland has lost 21 of their last 30 games with an offense which has all but disappeared.

Since this freefall started on Aug. 13, the A’s have scored more than four runs eight times and done so just once in the last two weeks. Let’s take Yoenis Cespedes out of the picture, since if he was truly that valuable of a commodity, Billy Beane does not trade him.

When looking at Oakland, you see them having the qualities of modern baseball speak, they are first in walks, have well above average numbers in OBP and OPS. Yet one figure which is basically disregarded anymore by saber-heads is batting average. Only Boston and Houston have a lower batting average in the American League.

What this points to is a lack of runners on base or not having the ability to score with runners in scoring position because the base hits are not coming any longer.

Being a baseball handicapper and one who checks the MLB odds daily, I have seen more than my fair share of – virtual certainties – to believe the struggling A’s are not a lock at this point.

 

Detroit – 92.9% Chance to Make Playoffs
With a recent 7-2 spurt, the Tigers have taken over first place in the AL Central, but their lead is only one game. With four teams within two games of each other, every mistake is critical.

As I have talked about most of the second part of the season, Detroit has a flawed lineup, being extremely top heavy, and when one or two of their top five hitters goes in a slump, there is nobody in the lower third of the batting order to pick them up.

While Justin Verlander and closer Joe Nathan have been marginally better, ask any Tigers fan if they are holding their breath waiting for something bad to happen and the answer 80 percent of the time will be “yes”.

For Detroit, the weekend series in Kansas City is their chance to essentially win the division, because next week are six home game against the White Sox and Twins.

Let’s see if the Tigers can take care of business.

 

Kansas City – 71.5% Chance to Make Playoffs
The Kansas City Royals have run into problems since starting the month 4-0, becoming very unreliable for sports picks by dropping seven of 11. It was no disgrace in losing series at Detroit, but that setback has appeared to have a carryover affect, losing four of six to the smelly Sox, both Red and White.

With a day off on Thursday, Kansas City needs to regroup mentally with the Tigers in town. Because the Tigers have all home games next week and the Royals close the regular season on the road, winning the series against Detroit might not be enough, with a clean sweep the preferred method.

No matter how you look it, if K.C. fails to reach the postseason for the first time in 29 years, they have only themselves to blame.

 

Seattle – 36.1% Chance to Make Playoffs
The Seattle Mariners have not played well at Safeco Field all year and last week they lost two costly series to Houston (unforgivable) and Oakland, which sent them backwards.

Seattle now has to gain ground the hard way, on the road. However this season the M’s have raised havoc with the sportsbooks with an outstanding 43-29 record, good for +19.6 units.

After wrapping up series with Angels, it is off to Houston and Toronto for seven games and Seattle cannot afford to have miscues.

 

The Final Word
I think Oakland is playing in the postseason, but not 100 percent sure. With Detroit’s experience, they should win their division. If Kansas City were to lose series to the Tigers, do they have the intestinal fortitude to continue and grab an AL Wild Card spot? Not sure. Seattle has been brilliant on the road all year, but their starting pitchers have been getting tagged of late and I think they come up just short.