As the MLB standings begin to take shape, we should look at who could be this year’s Wild Card Cinderella in the AL playoffs.
Every year, there is a team that wins the Wild Card game then makes a playoff run. Last year, the Yankees went to the ALCS, the year before that the Blue Jays went to the ALCS, and two years before that the Royals went to the World Series. This year, is there a team that can do that with the second Wild Card spot?
Looking at the standings now, let’s assume the season plays out as follows. The Yankees or Red Sox win the AL East with the other winning the first Wild Card. Then, the Indians win the AL Central as the only team above .500 right now. Lastly, let’s pick the Astros to win the AL West, they have the best run differential in baseball and the best team ERA, it’d be hard for them to not come through and win.
Now, let’s look at what a team needs to win a Wild Card game. Ideally, they want to have an ace, someone with the potential to throw a shutout. Should that not be the case, then they want an offense that hits both righties and lefties well. If they face the Yankees, they’ll face Luis Severino who is a right-hander and if they face the Red Sox they’ll draw Chris Sale who is a dominant left-hander.
So, let’s think about the options. Spoiler alert, nobody from the AL Central is a good choice. Obviously, if the Astros don’t win their division, they’re ideal. They have an overabundance of aces and the third best offense in baseball. However, in this scenario, they’ve won the division. That leaves 3 teams above .500, the Athletics, Angels, and Mariners.