I have been dutifully documenting various American League teams and their race toward the playoffs for many weeks in this space. The AL West and AL Wild Card still aren’t settled, but right now I’m having trouble caring. Because the Baltimore Orioles are the AL East champions! I still can’t believe it.
Going into the final weekend, let’s take a look at what each team needs to do to get to the postseason.
Baltimore Orioles (100-59) - Clinched AL East
The Orioles are the top American League seed in the postseason for however long they last. They were only contending with the Rays for that possibility for a while and now the matter is settled. They will have home-field advantage in the American League Division Series, which begins on October 7th in Baltimore.
As things stand now, they will play the winner of the Wild Card series between the Rays and Blue Jays. The Orioles were much better against the Blue Jays than the Rays in the regular season but had winning records against both.
Minnesota Twins (85-74) - Clinched AL Central
The Twins are nine games up on the second-place Detroit Tigers and have thus clinched their weak division. The Tigers are 76-83 and in second place! Minnesota will be the lowest-ranking division winner and will play in the WC round at home. It will most likely be against the Astros.
Tampa Bay Rays (97-62) - Clinched WC #1
The Rays are the second-best team in the American League, but they will be the fourth seed in the playoffs due to their misfortune of playing in the same division as the mighty Orioles. They have clinched the top Wild Card spot and will play the #2 WC team in a home series beginning on October 3rd.
Currently, they are slated to play the Toronto Blue Jays in the WC round, but it could end up being the Astros if they are able to pass the Jays in the standings.
The Rays finish up the regular season with three games against the Jays in Toronto.
Toronto Blue Jays (88-71) - Currently WC #2
The Blue Jays are currently one game ahead of the Astros for the second WC spot and two games up on the Seattle Mariners, who are the first non-WC team.
The Mariners hold the tiebreaker between the Blue Jays and themselves, which means the Jays have a magic number of two with three to play.
Houston Astros (87-72) - Currently WC #3
The Astros are one game up on the Mariners and the Mariners have the tiebreaker, so they have a magic number of three with three to play.
They are also just one game behind the Blue Jays, but the Blue Jays also hold that tiebreaker so the Astros would need to finish ahead of them to grab the second WC.
The Astros are currently two games behind the Rangers with three games to go. The Astros do hold the tiebreaker against the Rangers.
Seattle Mariners (86-73) - Currently first non-WC team
The Mariners have had a rough go of late but did stage a walkoff win against the Rangers last night but have been eliminated from the division as Texas holds the tiebreaker.
However they do hold the tiebreaker against the Astros as mentioned above. At one game behind them, they just need to be one game better than the Astros over the final three to take the final spot.
Texas Rangers (89-70) - 2 games up in AL West
The postseason and the AL West are the Rangers to lose. One win over the Mariners this weekend will guarantee them at least a Wild Card. They have a magic number of two over the Astros for the division.
If their division lead holds, they will receive a first-round bye just as the Orioles have. They will play in the ALDS against the winners of the Astros/Twins series.