The AL Playoff Race and Who’s Making It

As baseball fans, the gods have blessed us with some fantastic playoff races this September. Two of the six divisions are still up for grabs, and nearly every wild card spot is still reachable. Additionally, we are watching history in the making across both leagues with historic final pushes for award votes. In this playoff push edition from the Sports Wave, we will be looking at the AL and what teams still have a shot at the postseason.

AL East: Current Leader: Tampa Bay Rays (93-58)

I don’t think it should surprise anyone that the Tampa Bay Rays currently lead the AL East. As the reigning AL East champions, the Rays have continued their hot streak from the shortened 2020 season into 2021. Moreover, the addition of Nelson Cruz mid-season and the coming-out party for Wander Franco has provided the Rays with a chance to win it all. However, the injuries are still concerning; will Wander be available in time? Will the starting pitching be able to make up for Tyler Glasnow? Soon, time will answer those questions; in the meantime, let’s all watch and enjoy the domination the Rays have over the AL East. Prediction: Rays win Division

AL Central: Current Leader: Chicago White Sox (85-66)

Despite some mid-season drama concerning La Russa and his inability to change, the White Sox have dominated the AL Central. Their young batting stars have finally awoken as Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada have provided excellent hitting to prove the White Sox aren’t messing around. Additionally, the Jose Abreu and returned-from-IR Yasmani Grandal have powered them to one of the league’s best hitting clubs. However, they need two things to occur to make a deep playoff run. Dallas Keuchel needs to get back on track, and Carlos Rodon needs to return healthy. Without these two things happening, I doubt the White Sox will make much noise this postseason. Prediction: White Sox win Division

AL West: Current Leader: Houston Astros (89-61)

Now for the team that no one wants to see at the top, the Houston Astros. However, through remarkable efforts from Carlos Correa, Kyle Tucker, and Jose Altuve, the Astros find themselves at the top of the AL West. Their pitching has been just as impressive. With an AL-leading 3.67 team-ERA, Zach Greinke and Lance McCullers continue to terrorize opposing batters. Additionally, their young stars have also decided to show up from week to week, proving the Astros’ depth. In conclusion, the Astros have a legitimate shot at making a deep run in the postseason. Prediction: Houston Astros

AL Wildcard #1: Current Leader: Boston Red Sox (86-65)

Now, this is where the fun begins. The two AL wildcard spots are still open to five hungry AL teams. Additionally, the five teams have started to find their stride in September as they try to pounce on the final two wild card spots. Firstly, the red-hot hitting Red Sox. Led by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and the newly-acquired Enrique Hernandez, the Boston Red Sox have exploded with their bats to 3rd in the AL in OPS. The only problem, pitching. Despite Chris Sale returning, the Red Sox have an extremely concerning starting rotation. Unless they can figure it out, I cannot see a starting rotation with Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta winning the AL pennant. Prediction: Boston Red Sox

AL Wildcard #2: Current Leader: Toronto Blue Jays (84-66)

Blue Jays are the current leader and favorite to win the spot of writing this article, and it’s easy to see why. Their bats have erupted into the best team in slugging, home runs, and slugging. Consequently, their success shouldn’t be surprising to anyone as they have become one of the most fun teams to watch in baseball. Youngsters Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have destroyed opposing pitchers while veterans Marcus Semien and Teoscar Hernandez lead the Blue Jays to new heights. I cannot wait to see this team in the postseason, and I’m cheering for them all of the way. Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays

Teams in the Hunt: Yankees (84-67), Athletics (82-68), Mariners (81-69)

The Yankees have been one of the most complex teams to figure out this year. Despite acquiring talent at this year’s deadline, they have gone on massive losing streaks where their offense lacks respectability. However, their pitching continues to dominate as Gerrit Cole tries to make his case for the AL Cy Young. The Yankees desperately need a spark; otherwise, they will be watching this year’s postseason from the couch.

Oakland has been an exciting team to watch down the stretch. Led by star 1st and 3rd basemen, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, the Athletics have snuck into the playoff race. Despite their late-season surge, it might be too little, too late. At this point, the Athletics will need a miracle if they want to make the postseason.

Now for the team that no one expected to be in the race, the Seattle Mariners. There is no questioning that the Mariners are filled with potential young stars with Kyle Lewis and Jared Kelenic. However, many people, including myself, doubted they had any shot this year’s postseason. Yet, here they are with a run differential of -60 and the worst batting average in the entire league. The Mariners would need Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. to return somehow to have a shot. Otherwise, they’ll be hoping for a successful run next year.