AL wild-card race tightens as October approaches


Andrew E. Larsen

“Play Ball!” by Andrew E. Larsen is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

As the MLB season enters its final month of the regular season, the American-League wild card race gets competitive. There are three available wild card spots this season, and only nine games separating the top six teams, excluding the division leaders.

The New York Yankees and Houston Astros have been the AL East and West leaders for months, while the Cleveland Guardians repeatedly competed with the Minnesota Twins. The Guardians have been leaders of the AL Central since early August.

“The Guardians really surprised me this year,” senior Gaben Helms said. “At the beginning of the season, they weren’t really expected to play so well.”

The AL East is a dominating force in the MLB. Every team in the division is in contention for a wild card spot, except one. The Boston Red Sox are last in the division, but they are still within eleven games from a spot. The Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles are neck-in-neck for the remaining playoff positions.

“The AL East has been the most competitive division in baseball all season,” Helms added. “Their worst team is still better than half of the teams in the league.”

If the postseason started today, the AL wild-card teams would be the Seattle Mariners, Blue Jays, and Rays. Right behind them, the Orioles, White Sox, and Twins would not make the playoffs

The Mariners are having a strong second-half, as they are in the running as a wild card. They didn’t hit .500 until early July and were one of the AL’s weaker teams at the beginning of the year.

“The Mariners are having a good push at the end of the season, and I think they’ll squeak into the playoffs,” Mariners fan Josh Heytler explained. “Julio Rodríguez will carry them to one win and they’ll probably get bounced first round.”

Unfortunately, Julio Rodríguez was placed on the Injured-List this weekend due to a back strain. There is a chance that the Seattle star can play in late October.

The 2022 MLB Playoffs start on October 7 when the wild card teams face off in a best-of-three series. Seed four and five face off, while the third seed plays the sixth. The new bracket layout allows for three wild-card teams, which enters the third division winner (third seed) into an extra series. The Guardians are third seed at the moment.

“The Guardians still have to fight for a good spot in the playoffs,” senior Anthony Iriti said. “They don’t get any safety, even though they earned the place at the top of their division.”

Competition in the National-League is lacking compared to the AL. The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched a playoff spot weeks ago, with a twenty-game lead in the NL West. Aside from the three division leaders, there are four NL teams in reach of the three available wild card spots.

“I’m curious to see who makes it the farthest,” Iriti said. “The playoff bracket changes may be for the better.”

This year’s MLB World Series is set to start on October 28, 2022. The champion will be crowned in early November.