The regular season is wonderful. But let’s face it: ultimately, you have to make the playoffs. This is where the magic happens. A year ago, the Braves lost Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury and were in the midst of what seemed like a desperate Trade Deadline clamor to cobble together something resembling a champ. away from the Major League. Two and a half months later, they had won the World Series. October is what it’s all about.
But you must enter. No team has clinched a playoff spot, but using FanGraphs Playoff Odds, there are currently four teams that currently have a 100% chance of making the playoffs: the Yankees and Astros in the American League, and the Dodgers and the Mets in the National League. Which means there are eight spots open for, in my estimation, 14 teams: Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Giants, Guardians, Mariners, Orioles, Padres, Phillies , Rays, Red Sox, Twins and White Sox. (These are also all the teams FanGraphs has with playoff odds above 1% and below 100.)
That means six of those teams won’t make it. And many of these teams really need to make the playoffs. So, with two months to go, we take a look at the emergency playoff standings, weighing how much these 14 teams need to make the playoffs this year. How much will it break fans’ hearts to fail? How disappointing would that be? And conversely, how much would it represent for them to enter? Here is a ranking of the 14.
Current playoff odds: 83%
I mean, it has to be, right? The Mariners have the longest playoff drought in major North American professional sports; the last time they did so was in 2001, their 116-win season. Julio Rodríguez, their star player, was not even 1 year old. The Mariners know how important this year is, which is why they traded so much for right-hander Luis Castillo: Now is the time to strike. It’s a big baseball fanbase that deserves Baseball October. They’re on track for an AL Wild Card spot right now. For them and for the sake of these long-suffering fans, they must hold on.
Current playoff odds: 92%
Can you imagine if the Padres had some kind of meltdown and missed the playoffs? Can you imagine? OK, so it’s pretty hard to imagine, but it’s fair to say that after going all-in on Juan Soto and trading almost the entire top tier of their farm system, the Padres are pretty invested. Should they win the World Series this year? With Soto on the roster until at least 2024, they’ll still have a few bites of apple. But the assumption is that they will be in October, with room to spare, these three years. It’s honestly hard to fathom what would happen if the Padres failed this year. Almost as difficult to understand as it happens.
3. Blue jays
Current playoff odds: 97%
All told, you could argue that they belong to that first group of supposed playoff teams. They’re comfortably in that first AL Wild Card spot, and FanGraphs actually has them more like a lock than the Padres. I’m not so sure, if only because of the number of other teams competing in the AL. There is no doubt, however, that they are well placed, and that is a good thing, because despite all the excitement about the young talent in this team and all the expense being made by the front office, they don’t still haven’t won a playoff. game since 2016, when José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación were their stars. The division is out of reach, but they could very well put together a playoff series if they play their cards right. They wouldn’t dare miss another chance, would they?
Current playoff odds: 76%
Milwaukee could have been a bit lower on this list heading into the trade deadline. But when you send your closest All-Star — and one of the most beloved players on the roster — right in the middle of a pennant chase, you better not crash on the stretch. One can understand the argument for trading Josh Hader while understanding why Brewers fans might be upset about it. Part of the Brewers mindset was that sending Hader would help them in the long run but not cost them the division in the short term. They better be right. Because if you’re not too careful, you might overwhelm yourself.
Current playoff odds: 63%
Speaking of NL Central teams with a pretty huge few months ahead, the Cardinals will have to justify their reluctance to really enter Soto’s draw. It’s outside the personality of this organization to ship out its whole farming system like AJ Preller just did; they don’t see anything as “windows” and think they have to compete every year. The problem is you have to compete this year. If you’re going to fire Soto, you better win now. This is especially true when we say goodbye to legends Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols at the end of the year. You don’t want to ruin this goodbye. They need this division as much as the Brewers.
Current playoff odds: 66%
Depending on how close you think the Giants are, you can make the case that these three teams are chasing two spots. The Phillies are vying for the NL Wild Card spot that anyone who doesn’t win Central is trying to get, and their Deadline trades made it clear that Philly isn’t letting Bryce Harper’s absence drain them of hope. Harper’s absence – and the excuse she could theoretically provide – is the only reason they’re below Cardinals and Brewers here, but given that they have the second baseball’s longest playoff drought (2011), you can absolutely put them above the two.
7. White Sox
Current playoff odds: 55%
Some of us picked the White Sox as their second-best bet to win the World Series this year, which hasn’t aged particularly well. But the mindset made sense. This is a team with a ton of talent at its peak, an owner who wants to win right now, a farming system that’s not producing a ton of future talent, a division that’s not particularly terrifying, and a manager who, well, probably don’t think about how his team will fare in 2030. That is to say: now is the time. Despite all their headaches this year, the White Sox are only three games away from the AL Wild Card and AL Central, meaning everything they wanted this season is still ahead of them. But if they fail this year…there will be a pretty huge countdown on the south side.
Current playoff odds: 51%
Yes, FanGraphs has the White Sox with better playoff odds than the Twins despite Minnesota’s standings advantage, which speaks to the fact that the Twins have a tougher remaining schedule, and presumably a computer guess that the White Sox have underperformed so far. The Twins entered this season essentially acting as if their disappointing 2021 was an anomaly, and so far they’ve been right. They’re in first place despite some issues with their pitching team, issues they tried to resolve at the deadline. Much of the urgency for 2022 comes from the fact that they will likely only have Carlos Correa for this season before he retires; you better win while you got it.
Current playoff odds: 58%
One of the Rays’ modus operandi is that they never too all-in for a season: they always make sure to think three or four years ahead. But there is no doubt that we are in a peak period for the Rays. They had a .596 winning percentage in three straight best years, they won 100 games last year, they made a World Series a few years ago. But this year has been more difficult. They still retain an AL Wild Card spot, but it feels a bit precarious, and it feels like this Rays team is a cut or two below those of the past.
Current playoff odds: 99%
Even with Acuña not quite looking the same since returning from a knee injury that cost him most of last year and part of this year, it has become established wisdom that this Braves team is better than the one from last year…you know, the one that won the World Series. They’re well placed for the playoffs, but if something falls apart in the aftermath and they somehow end up out of the running, Braves fans will be so upset they’ll have to walk out. their 2021 World Series DVDs to make them feel better. It would be a big step back to miss the playoffs. But they just won the World Series and seem like a near lock to at least making the NL Wild Card round.
Current playoff odds: 25%
First of all, it’s the Red Sox, so there’s always some emergency. That said, the vibes have been off for the Red Sox for a few months now, and you can tell the team knows how relatively passive they were at the deadline. Sure, they kept JD Martinez and brought in Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer, but neither was a game changer, and they got Hosmer for free anyway. They’re clearly still in the running – they’re only four games away from the AL Wild Card. But they’re also a last-place team that barely tops .500, and they don’t seem to have any illusions about that. They will agree to an end-of-season run if that happens. But of course they don’t count.
Current playoff odds: 4%
The Giants are barely hanging on to the NL Wild Card run, but they haven’t fully punted, as you can tell by the fact that Carlos Rodón is still on the roster. They were a team that, we remind you, won 107 games last year, and you never know when a team like that will succeed. But the fan base can still console themselves by winning three World Series titles not too long ago.
Current playoff odds: 3%
Of all the fun ways to end this season, “Baltimore in the playoffs” would be one of the most gloriously entertaining. This team is an absolute blast right now. It’s been especially nice to watch them win series almost casually against teams like the Rangers, Angels and Cubs in recent weeks, treating them like speed bumps. Even with all the excitement, a team that trades Trey Mancini and Jorge López at the deadline still sees its true contention window in a year or two. It’s always a bonus for the Orioles in 2022. In 2023? Then the temperature starts to rise.
Current playoff odds: 28%
Cleveland is just one game away from the AL Central and two games away from the AL Wild Card. But the club made no move at the deadline other than swapping Sandy León and sending in Franmil Reyes. They could still make the playoffs: they’re pretty well placed, actually. But they also have holes they haven’t filled. So they get the last spot here.